Hail to the Chiefs excerpt: College life at Bainbridge in 1969

Andrew “Pappy” Paxton, the Chiefs leader, is settling into college life at Bainbridge, a small liberal arts university in Indiana. He notices that quite a few of the guys there were “taking advantage of the college exemption from the draft” for the Vietnam War, which is at its height—but Andrew and his friends, and everyone else on campus, are cloistered away in the bubble of college classes and social activities.

The Vietnam had engulfed the country. Nixon was President; troop strength was at the highest; and there was no end in sight. Yet in the insulated world Bainbridge, the students’ days focused on classes, attending parties, making friends, and playing sports.

For the Chiefs, their current greatest collective concern was which fraternity to join. As homogenous as the five seemed, their individual personalities would eventually split them between two houses. But for now, there was the ego-boosting courtship and the endless string of parties.

Barrett and Pappy were establishing a routine. Both studied while listening to music. Barrett fielded at least three phone calls from girls each night. Ten o’clock meant study break at the Union, and then a quick swing through the library to see if there was any action. Letters to family and friends rounded out the day. Luckily, neither snored.


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