Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

48. Just Like Saint Augustine

Bokonon, I learned from Castle’s book, was born in 1891. He was a Negro, born an Episcopalian and a British subject on the island of Tobago.

He was christened Lionel Boyd Johnson.

He was the youngest of six children, born to a wealthy family. His family’s wealth derived from the discovery by Bokonon’s grandfather of one quarter of a million dollars in buried pirate treasure, presumably a treasure of Blackbeard, of Edward Teach.

Blackbeard’s treasure was reinvested by Bokonon’s family in asphalt, copra, cocoa, livestock, and poultry.

Young Lionel Boyd Johnson was educated in Episcopal schools, did well as a student, and was more interested in ritual than most. As a youth, for all his interest in the outward trappings of organized religion, he seems to have been a carouser, for he invites us to sing along with him in his “Fourteenth Calypso":

When I was young,
I was so gay and mean,
And I drank and chased the girls
Just like young St. Augustine.
Saint Augustine,
He got to be a saint.
So, if I get to be one, also,
Please, Mama, don’t you faint.

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