The Silliman Buttery

The event/space that pops immediately into these old and abused neurons is the Silliman Buttery, or Butt, in the basement on the east side of the quadrangle.

December 1, 1969 – the first Vietnam Draft Lottery – called “The Lottery of Death” on WYBC. The room was packed, with men standing and overflowing out into the hallway. We had Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In on the TV up on the wall – with the sound turned off. A radio was set next to the TV, playing WYBC as the numbers were read off.

I think we all expected to see Fellini walk in at any moment. We were watching Goldie Hawn hop around while the fates were choosing our survival probabilities with numbers being read out on the radio.

Most wrenching, the scene that’s burned into my brain, was a guy I didn’t know crowding into the doorway with arms full of books, saying, “Hey guys, I’ve been at the library, have they called September 14 yet?” We all seemed to just stare at him, and the room seemed to go silent in spite of the radio. Somebody close to him kind of whispered “That was number 1, man.” The guy said, “No, I mean it, was it called yet?” Memory at near 50 years is notoriously imperfect, but when several voices joined in and convinced him we weren’t kidding, I remember him dropping his books and weeping against the doorway.

James Conroy