I was spending a year in Germany as a Rotary Club exchange student when I turned 19 and became eligible for the draft. I don't remember when the lottery drawing took place [UPDATE: it was in February], but I remember learning about it from a newspaper clipping my mother sent me from home. Here's how the lottery worked:
The days of the year, from 1 to 366, were written on slips of paper and the slips were placed in plastic capsules. The capsules were mixed in a shoebox and then dumped into a deep glass jar. Capsules were drawn from the jar one at a time. *
The first capsule drawn was assigned the number one, and so on. The kids having the first 50 or so numbers could pretty much count on being drafted and sent to Viet Nam. (If you were in college, you were allowed only to complete your current semester of study before reporting for enlistment.)
By the time the lottery was conducted for my birth year, I'd already made up my mind not to return to the U.S. if my draft number was low. Yet as it turned out, my number was 363 -- about as high as you could get. No chance I would be drafted. I could go home to my family in peace.
(To be continued)