As soon as I turned 18 and got a draft card, I rushed to my printing shop at Dobbins Technical Institute (aka Dobbins High School) and commenced to committing a federal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
I didn’t now it was against the law, a federal law at that, but I guess I should have known you can’t change the date of birth on your Selective Service card to show you’re 21 years old rather than 18. Hey, it was the best way of getting served in every Philadelphia bar in 1966.
Yeah, I graduated from high school 50 years ago this coming June. I also learned that one could skirt the rules with no bad intent and have fun learning how grown-ups dealt with something called adulthood.
Getting credentials for the legal drinking age was one way!
We’d get the small draft card and place it in the center of a large camera. No, not the Polaroid kind, but a large one — called a Process Camera — that used high intensity lamps (also called “carbon arcs”) to shine on the image you wanted to reproduce. You’d then dial equations to enlarge the printed area from regular 100 percent to 500 or even more, I seem to recall.
Once you done that, you “print” a copy onto a negative. Get the negative and then “opaque out” the section of the card that shows the date of birth.
(Please see: “halftone screen” with dots.)
For instance, my birth date is 12-01-1948. i’d block out that date and make a copy of a smaller version of the card. That smaller version would show an empty slot.
The next step was as easy as typing with a keyboard. You just put in a new date that shows you are at least 21, such as 12-01-1945.
(That made me 21 years old in 1966! “Set ’em up fellows. I’m buying!)
Dobbins also offered me a career in regular printing, which I worked at before being drafted and serving in the army. I became a journalist and used a lot of what I learned in high school for designing newsletters and small newspapers.
It came in handy when starting a Blog and wanting to jazz it up a little to make it easier to read with artwork, some italicized words, and the choice of font size and style.
The statute of limitations has long passed and my own legal reasoning tells me that my confession here will not force me back in jail. (I hope not!) It will just remind a lot of my high school friends how crazy we once were and can now look back and laugh at our fun-loving childish ways.
See you all on June 10th for the 50th High School Reunion!
(For a look at one of the most memorable days of my high school life, see the following: November 22nd, A Day Like No other in America)