Author Archive | Dan Wakefield

Dan and Edie Vonnegut

Dan and Edie VonnegutHere is a great photo of me and Edie Vonnegut in front of her painting of Adam and Eve in the Garden of  Eden that hangs in my living room wall. It has hung on my living room wall wherever I have lived since I bought the painting in 1971. Since that time I have lived in Boston, New York, Hollywood. Miami and now Indianapolis and the painting has always been on the living room wall wherever I lived.

In 1971, with the royalties from my novel Going All The Way, I bought a townhouse in Boston on Beacon Hill. (If I had never sold it I would now be a millionaire. So it goes.).

The first person I invited to see the house was Kurt Vonnegut. It was really “the house that Kurt built,” because his backing of my novel with the publisher and his great review of it in Life Magazine made the book a best-seller. When I showed Kurt the house I had not moved in yet and there was nothing on the walls.

“You have a lot of empty wall space,” Kurt said “And you need some paintings. It just so happens that my daughter Edie is a painter now and she has some paintings to sell. You might want to buy one.”

The next day I took the first shuttle flight to New York, went to see Edie, looked at some of her paintings and loved the one of the Garden of Eden. I bought it and she had it framed and shipped it to me.

I had not seen Edie since the time I bought her painting forty years ago until today (Sunday): when she came to town to join the celebration of the opening of the new Vonnegut Library building. She and her husband John Squibb came for breakfast, which was catered and donated by “Taste of Havana” who supplied fabulous pastelitos of strawberry, guava and coconut, plus the wonderful Cuban espresso that George serves to every patron at the end of a meal.

Edie, John and I talked non-stop for almost three hours while scarfing down Cuban pastries and talking about Kurt Vonnegut. I wish he had been there. In a way, he was, as we conjured up memories of his words, his humor, his kindness. As he sometimes said in punctuation to his novels:

“Hi ho!”


Honors for Alan Hague and The Gazette

Alan Hague

Alan and Heidi Huff-Hague

Not many neighborhoods in the city or the state or in the entire United States, have their own historian who provides the current history of the place – as well as reminding us of its past treasures. Alan Hague fills that unique role as publisher of The Broad Ripple Gazette, which he founded in 2004. He has just been honored by The Indiana Historical Society with The Hubert Hawkins History Award, given to “a local historian for his or her distinguished service.”

As a reader of the bi-weekly Gazette – and a graduate of School #80 (now a condo at 62nd and Guildford) – I am most entranced by its features that delve into the neighborhood’s past, like a history of The Vogue theater, which brought back memories of the countless Saturday afternoons I spent watching double features, newsreels, and serial episodes of long-gone heroes like Buck Rogers and The Lone Ranger.

The Gazette’s series on The Canal was not only informative on every aspect of that waterway, it dredged up memories of my Cousin Junior, who used to take a bamboo pole with a hook and a line and go fishing there.

In the very issue of The Gazette that was out when Alan Hague received the Historical Society award he published Part Two of “The History of Car Dealers in Broad Ripple” that is being told by his cousin Glen Hague – who was my classmate at School #80.

Note to Alan Hague:

Please tell your cousin Glen I was having chili in The Red Key last week when four people came over to my table to ask me “Were you a student of Miss Day?”

They had all been students of Roxie Lingle Day at School #80 – I was proud to answer that I was in the very first First Grade class taught by Miss. Day – and so was Glen Hague, cousin of Alan.

It’s a neighborhood with a deep history. We are lucky to have our own award-winning historian.

Of course, there is far more than geezer-bait history in the Gazette’ pages – as The Historical Society’ award notes, there are “stories on education, entertainment, transportation” and the never-ending zoning battles. And to keep you up to date on where to go and what to see, the ubiquitous Nora Spitznagel is “Buzzing Around Town.”


Susan Neville Goes “Into The Fire”

Into the Fire by Susan NevilleSusan Neville, the Butler professor/author who happens to be The Most Under-Rated Important Writer in Indianapolis – and Indiana, and The Midwest and The United States – has a dynamite new essay that was chosen as a “Solo” for the literary magazine Ploughshares.

“Into the Fire” is the title of the essay and Neville goes “into the fire” of her family’s past.

In old family letters from both her mother and her father’s side of the family, she comes across black and white photos of burning crosses – the symbol of the Ku Klux Klan.

Nevile acts as a literary detective to discover the female member of her family during the 1920s who was part of the women’s division of the Klan. (The Klan had its greatest stronghold in Indiana in the 1920s, and many women were part of it.)

Neville not only finds the likely Klanswoman (one she would have least suspected) but more importantly, she takes on the responsibility of her ancestorship, asking “What does this mean for me? Who am I?” as a white citizen in today’s world?

The essay is only available now as an ebook, and it is worth every cent of your $1.99.

Dan Wakefield

Dan Wakefield