Vonnegut Reminisces About Tennessee

Wednesday, April 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Before he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and survived the bombing of Dresden, writer Kurt Vonnegut spent part of World War II as a college student in Knoxville.

``The Army sent me there,'' said Vonnegut, recalling the months he spent at the University of Tennessee in 1943.

``They were stockpiling college kids. They had all the officers and non-coms they needed,'' he told The Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Vonnegut recalled attending dances in Gatlinburg in the Great Smoky Mountains, buying moonshine at the old Andrew Johnson Hotel, seeing a football team of wounded ex-soldiers play and studying thermodynamics, which he flunked.

``Please don't look up my records,'' he said with a laugh during an interview from his home in Northhampton, Mass.

From Knoxville, Vonnegut's platoon of college boys shipped out to Europe. His experience in Dresden became the basis for ``Slaughterhouse-Five.''

``I wouldn't have missed it for the world,'' he said of the ``great adventure'' of World War II. ``I'm glad I was a private. Got to see a lot that I wouldn't have seen otherwise.''