so it goes

(Photo by Colleen Taber)

After I moved back to the States from Germany in 1986, one of the first experiences I had in my new adopted hometown of Indianapolis was attending a speech made by Kurt Vonnegut at North Central High School.

At the time, I simply couldn’t believe that I was in the same room (albeit a very large one) as one of the greats of American literature. I knew he was from Indianapolis originally, but I hadn’t known that although he lived in New York, he still maintained close ties with the Indianapolis community and often visited for public and private events.

To learn of this ongoing tie between a world-famous author and his midwestern hometown was actually quite a bit reassuring to someone who was still a bit dubious about what kind of a city Indianapolis would be like to live in (after coming here from the likes of Heidelberg and Ann Arbor).

Colleen also encountered Vonnegut in Indianapolis, though in a much closer and more personal way — and even managed to speak a few words of German with him.

She happened by chance to run into him in July 2004 at the Indianapolis Art Center as she was picking Melinda up after her painting class at the Center. Vonnegut was chatting (and smoking of course) with a few members of the art center staff outside the building just before the premiere of an art exhibit featuring works by various members of the Vonnegut family. Colleen joined the group outside, shook Vonnegut’s hand, exchanged some small talk about speaking German, and (of course) took some pictures before excitedly going back inside to fetch Melinda from her class.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was to have spoken here in two weeks as part of the events surrounding Indianapolis’s "Year of Vonnegut." He will be missed.

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