April 16, 2007

The Sun Remembers Kurt Vonnegut ’44

Print More

Current and past members of The Cornell Daily Sun were saddened to learn of the death of one of the most prolific and notable American writers of the 20th century. The Sun has a special relationship with Kurt Vonnegut Jr. ’44, who served as an assistant managing editor and associate editor at The Sun while he was a student at Cornell University.

Vonnegut often spoke highly about his time at The Sun. At The Sun’s 125th anniversary dinner in 2005, he proclaimed: “The Cornell Sun, thank goodness, showed me what to do with my life, and I did it.” For video of his speech, click here.

While memorializing Vonnegut, The Sun reprinted works Vonnegut wrote for The Sun in recent years. The Sun has also reprinted columns Vonnegut wrote for The Sun in the 1940s. Click here for other thoughts on Vonnegut. For more of Vonnegut’s writings for The Sun, click here or here.



In Which Mr. Willkie and We Raise Stinks on Opposite Side of the Fence

Wendell L. Willkie, political yo-yo from the Hoosier State, has demanded a second front — while wearing a rumpled blue serge suit with egg on the vest. This homespun corporation lawyer, probably the last presidential candidate to be born anywhere near a log cabin, has set all England (excepting the stupid military authorities) yapping like a pack of underfed dogs in a kennel.

On the back page of the Indianapolis News ran this headline: “Schultz Demands Second Front Immediately.” Two paragraphs down (there were three), one discovered that Schultz was second speaker at a dinner given for an American Legion Post. Schultz and Willkie will lead us to victory! Hop on the bandwagon and yell like hell, it’s good for morale.

Lord Strabolgi, British laborite, has coined a tidy phrase to describe Willkie’s London thunderclap – “Highly significant.” He said he could not see how the Labor Party could continue to give “blind support” to the Churchill government “unless solid military aid is given Russia.” This sort of nonsense will knock the blocks from under everything if it keeps spreading like measles in grade-school.

An explanation of the current military situation by an expert, Lord Croft, Secretary of the War Office, easily balances the noise made by Wendell in regard to our buddies from way back, Soviet Russia. He declared that Britain had already fought on 13 fronts, against odds, and had already performed great service for Russia in extensive bombing attacks on Germany, and in maintaining a steady stream of supplies through difficult channels. That will have to do until we have sufficient men, guns, ships and tanks to do the job — to do the job with the greatest dispatch and the smallest number of casualties.

Wendell Willkie went to Indiana University, not West Point; he studied law, not military science. The second front in Europe will be opened when our leaders, those trained in matters of sudden death, are properly equipped and fairly certain of success. It will be a world-shaking tragedy, if Mr. Willkie, Mr. Schultz, Lord Starbolgi and others like them stir up the American and British people to make an undeniable demand for German blood on European soil before the proper time has come.

—originally published in The Sun on September 29, 1942


For Whom the Bell Tolls

Mr. Donald Moyer, Councillor of Students at Cornell, delivered an address to the men of this year’s freshman camp which sounded in the distance the death-knell of several important campus publications — i.e. the three independent corporations: the Widow, the Cornellian, and The Sun. Mr. Moyer said in effect that with the more war-like phase the University is about to enter, little or no time would be available for extra-curricular activities.

The Widow, Cornellian and Sun require a great deal of time. At this moment, each is financially solvent, but, if we have not misinterpreted the Councillor of Students, a shortage of man-power will cripple and kill each of them by the end of this semester. Each of the above-mentioned publications does Cornell a service which is certainly not off-color, even in time of war: The Cornellian records; the Widow keeps alive an interest in humor and drawing; The Sun informs and reports. Each is an important avocation in the lives of those who give time to them, and more pertinent to a battle cry is the element of leadership that is an undeniable part of the staffs.

When the man-power pinch comes, what of this independence? Does the University intend to publish a paper of its own? There must be a balance between the students and the faculty (also human). The publications, tested over a long period of time, are the necessary buffers, and as such have served well. Loss of student control of Cornell’s press (no outmoded vestige of the world at peace) would bring to a pathetic end University democracy the “freedom and responsibility” Professor Carl Becker spoke of as “The Cornell Tradition.”

Will Cornell continue to make it possible for students to publish independently, to compete for the staffs of the Cornellian, Sun and Widow, or is the end near?

—originally published in The Sun on September 26, 1942

Innocents Abroad

A Kiss . . .

If you’re as crazy about the facts of life as we are this definition will send you. A kiss is a noun, but it is generally used as a conjunction. It is seldom declined and is more common than proper. It is not very singular in that it is usually used in the plural — anyway it agrees with men.

. . . Oak Leaves, Manchester Collitch (for babes)

Stolen Goods

From life’s book of tears and laughter
I have gained this bit of lore—
I’d rather have a morning after
Than never have a night before.

. . . Virginia Tech (where else?)

Medical Note

And then there was the girl with such delicate feet that she could stand barefoot on a wad of week-old gum and tell what flavor it was. We’ve sent this one to the American Medical Journal.

Mangled Moralizing

It’s a great life if your don’t weaken.
To err is human and sometimes divine.

. . . Daily Lariat

Dans La Gare

Garcon: Say Bud, didja miss your train?

Un homme: Hell no . . . I just didn’t like the looks of the locomotive so I chased it out of the station.

Off of a Bubble-Gum Wrapper

We should like to retract a joke concerning an elephant and a flea which was printed last week, which is evidently older than Morrill Hall and which may involve us in a suit with Joe Miller’s Joke Book. This column, incidentally, does not encourage the readers’ sending in suggestions for improvement —We’ll quit when we’re good and ready.

—originally published in The Sun on April 21, 1941

For more of The Sun’s coverage of Vonnegut’s death as well as more of his writings for The Sun click here.