Group W

Shawn Mamros mamros@MIT.EDU
Tue Feb 6 14:00:28 EST 2007

>Arlo Guthrie refers to the Group W bench in his classic "Alice's Restaurant" 
>rendition. Does anybody know if he based it on the Westinghouse Group W tag 
>and if not where it came from. (It obviously has nothing to do with details 
>of the "masacree." I have always wanted to know what the answer to that 
>question was and have never found an answer.

Probably has to do with the old Selective Service System (i.e.,
"the draft") and its categorization system.  The categories most
people are familiar with are 1-A (available for unrestricted service)
and 4-F (not acceptable for "physical, mental, or moral" reasons).
There was also 1-W (conscientious objector ordered to perform alternative
service) and 4-W (one who has completed said alternative service).
I'm pretty sure that's what Arlo meant by "group W", given the
description of the scene where that part of the song was taking place.
Group W as in Westinghouse Broadcasting makes no sense in that context.

-Shawn Mamros
E-mail to: mamros -at- mit dot edu

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