Bukowski: 4F? (with draft card images)

mjp

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#1
So I've been trying to find some documentation on Bukowski's interviews with military doctors (1943 in New Orleans, 1944 in Philadelphia), or at least a record of his 4F status somewhere. I've contacted all the possible military records repositories, the National Archives and the Selective Service (which is supposed to hold the historical records of all the local draft boards), who should have, at least, a record indicating his draft eligibility status.

But recently I heard back from selective Service, it was a form letter, and at the top someone wrote, "No information." I had sent them all the information in the FBI files, dates, his Los Angeles address, all the known Philadelphia addresses, his social security number, et al.

Seems odd that Selective Service has no record of...well, anything. Obviously those interviews took place and he was exempted, since the FBI investigations found as much. But no forms, records or anything? Weird.
 

number6horse

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#2
Maybe they just delete some records after a certain number of years. Especially if the person is deceased and there is no claim of government benefits for his survivors (Soc. Security for example). Just speculatin'....
 

mjp

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#3
I tend to think they should exist somewhere, because the National Archives has draft cards going back to WWI. I suspect if I was standing in front of someone at the Archives they could find something, but a mail request might not get the same attention.

That U. S. Attorney's file mentioned in the FBI files no doubt has a lot of good info, but I assume those are not public. I didn't even bother checking. From what I've read about the psychiatric evaluations they did for that Medical Survey Program (which is what Bukowski got caught up in), they weren't very detailed anyway, so it could well be that finding that report would be anticlimactic.
 

hank solo

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#4
Anticlimactic? Probably so...



"Bukowski: This candidate failed the 'party invite test' and so is in my view unsuitable for military service.


Now I must hurry home and prepare the punch. It should be a wonderful party tonight! Lots of interesting people coming.

Dr. K. W. Simpson"
 

mjp

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#5
Exactly. If they even got that much information. Apparently a lot of the reports were just blank.

Of the various forms, DSS Form 212 (Medical and Social History) was the most valuable. The completion of this form depended upon the activity of the medical field agent concerned. Although many field agents, especially in the Eastern States, were well qualified and turned in a creditable job, the vast majority were not prepared to accomplish this mission effectively either from the standpoint of training or from a standpoint of their own educational background.
As a direct result of this deficiency, it became apparent that a majority of forms received at induction stations did not contain much useful information. Because even under the best conditions it was rarely possible for a psychiatrist to see a registrant at the induction station for a time longer than 4 or 5 minutes, except for questionable cases, the examining psychiatrists came to believe that it was not worthwhile, from a time standpoint, to open the sealed envelopes and sort out the various forms, only to discover, after reading them, that the information sought for was not to be found. Not only were many blank forms received, obviously without any information whatsoever, but examiners objected to the type of data that were forwarded.
I just found out that there is a 70 year hold on those records, similar to the census records. So Bukowski's draft card should be available in the next few years. They are pretty unremarkable (see Bukowski Sr. below - didn't know he worked as a cement finisher), but maybe some other interesting things will become public.

bukSr.png
 

mjp

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#6
Well, here is the draft card. A couple of interesting things here: it's the first address we have for him in New Orleans, he says he's working at Sears (in New Orleans?!), and he is described as having a "face marked with acne," and his hair as...blond?

Bukowski-draft-front.jpg

Bukowski-draft-rear.jpg
 

mjp

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#8
I was so excited to find that, and the first (only) response is a grammar flame. Ha ha. There goes my life in miniature. It's perfect. ;)

While we're on the subject, of course we don't know who filled out the block printed part of the form, but it wasn't Bukowski, since we know his printing didn't change much over his lifetime (as this social security card application completed nine months earlier shows). And it probably wasn't Mrs. Hilbert Potter, as she clearly wrote in longhand.

But whoever wrote "Sears-Roebuck" didn't pull the name out of a hat. It was Bukowski's answer to the "Where do you work?" question.
 
#9
I try not to nit-pick grammar too much, but I was really getting at what appeared to be an interview process that unfolded, as you mentioned in your last post. It would have been quite a scene; I'd like to have been a fly on the wall for that.

But the block printing is odd, isn't it? HENRY ChARLES BUKOWSKi JR. And it appears that someone else, perhaps the esteemed Mrs. Potter, may have added N.O., La. in two places.
 
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