With the announcement of the passing of Kurt Vonnegut many memories come back to me. Kurt and Jane were friends of my parents. They met through the Great Books Club that was held at the Osterville Free Library. It was the early fifties and the Vonneguts would come over to our house and Kurt would put thumb tacks in the hammers of our upright piano and play honky-tonk tunes.
One time that comes to mind is when we were over at their house in Barnstable about 1961 or 1962 and Kurt was showing my father a SAAB. I think Kurt was trying to make ends meet as he had not reached the level of fame that he would achieve in just a couple of years and was selling cars on the side to supplement income he was not making from writing.
It was a strange vehicle. It had a three cylinder engine that was a two cycle so there was plenty of blue smoke and a rather odd note to the engine. It was front wheel drive and had a three speed column shifter. It was not what my father was looking for in a family car.
Later I would see these cars campaigning successfully on the autocross circuit as well as read about their triumphs in international road rallies.
My father passed on the SAAB and later owned several Volkswagens. I once tried to sell him on a SAAB Sonnet that we saw at an auto show in Boston, but he was still not impressed.
Kurt and Jane had three kids and adopted his sister Alice’s three children when she died of cancer just after her husband was killed, and then adopted another child, Lily. We had them over to stay at our house during a hurricane, too. Jane and my mother were good friends.
Kurt became recognised for the great writer he was and then “Slaughterhouse Five” was made into a movie. When my friends and I went to see it at the Nicklodeon Cinema we laughed at the similarities of the characters to the Vonneguts themselves.
Life goes on and Kurt will be missed. The memories will remain.