With Samuel Bean’s high school graduation occurring in the aftermath of what was then dubbed the Great War, the Oakland Tribune was quite ready to characterize Sam’s response to the draft as if it were an echo of those famous words attributed to the American Patriot, Nathan Hale. Among the accolades poured upon Sam in the May 11, 1919, article leading up to the graduation ceremonies, the Tribune observed:
“Sammy” Bean has only one regret in life. And that is that he was not able to fight for his country. His name was the first one called in Alameda county during the first draft and twice he was summoned for physical examination. Each visit resulted in the [keenest] disappointment to him.
Revisiting that actual Tribune report just after the draft’s first drawing, we see the article providing what was then the colloquial term for Sam’s malady:
Samuel W. Bean, the second man drawn, is disqualified physically from serving. He is deaf, dumb and blind.
Of course, since we know the rest of this saga, it’s quite obvious that Sam was not “dumb” in that era’s sense of the word, for he not only recited poetry—including his own—before public audiences, but later embarked on a speaking tour to promote his writings.
He was, however, disqualified from military service—as one would expect. The Alameda County draft board, in addition to having to deal with the “muchly married” situation noted in yesterday’s post, reported to the Tribune on August 16 that of the seventy-five names drawn, they were obliged to disqualify twelve men. Of those twelve names listed in the article, the very last name belonged to Sam Bean.
Remembering the skeptical note included on Sam’s draft registration card—“seems to be deaf and blind”—it appears, at this point, there was no doubt of the medical conclusion. The draft board officials must have gotten over any residual apprehensions of having been duped by yet another draft dodger.
Sam, however, had an entirely different take on the matter, according to his words quoted by the Oakland Tribune right after his name was pulled in the draft.
When he learned from members of his family that he had been drawn he wrote: “I am mighty sorry that I cannot go and help whip the Kaiser.”