Walk Down Misery Street

Adam was in college. He studied poorly because of “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.” One day, a side job turned up for him and his buddy; they had earned some money and decided to “have a little fun” with drinking, swallowing LSD, and hanging out in the famous Astroland Amusement Park in Brooklyn.

Not far from the entrance to the park was an army recruitment booth. The Vietnam war was underway at that time. For fun, these cheerful friends entered the booth and asked how they could become defenders of the Motherland. They were told: “You guys need to be physically fit and willing to serve in the Army. That’s it.” The boys laughed and said that they were conscientious pacifists and against any war. They went to the park to enjoy the carousel. “Enjoy the rides, kids.”

Continuing the festivities, they bought more whiskey and LSD. While very high, they decided they were ready to defend America from all its enemies. Once again, they entered that wonderful recruitment booth, showed their driver’s licenses, filled out the Army service applications, and signed on the line. The recruitment man in military uniform shook their hands and thanked them for their civic courage and patriotism.

The next morning, Adam had a terrible hangover. He was only able to think about how to “get a fix.” He totally forgot about the Army application he had completed the day before.

Soon the mailman brought Adam a summons, instructing him to arrive at City Hall in Manhattan on a particular day, where he would be informed of the details of his future military service.

Understandably, his parents were in shock. Adam, the pacifist, was in shock also. But what could be done? The form had been filled out and signed by his hand. If Adam refused to come on appointed day, he would be under threat of arrest and have been taken anyway, but to the infantry. Otherwise, he could choose the type of troop to join.

Adam chose the medical forces, comforting himself with the thought that he would not have to shoot.

A month and a half later, Adam was already in a training camp in South Carolina, where he learned the combat attendant basics. Three months later, he was sent to Vietnam. “Enjoy the ride, kid.”