Walter describes a vacation he took in Hungary in 1936.
-- transcript --
Walter: And then, I have a good story to tell about a vacation I spent in Hungary.
This is quite a dramatic story, where I was supposed to teach German to the boy of a farmer's family, and my mother sent me down there because the food was better, I mean there were no fresh vegetable or fresh fruit in Austria because of exchange restrictions. So, she thought it would be good for me to go there in the summer.
The farm was part of the big estate of somebody who grew sugar beets and made brandy. And he had a pretty daughter, and she sort of took to me and we'd go bicycling around in the countryside.
And then, her father was also very nice to me and gave me books to read that he liked. Books like, you know Spengler and people who write about human history and the volume that he lent me was written by a historian named Sandbart.
And then one day, he asked me to come out with him and hunt ducks. And he shot one or two birds, and then the third bird he only wounded, and so the bird sort of flew down and hid somewhere in the sugar beet field, and, he couldn't find it, and I couldn't find it, and his dog couldn't find it, and he got very upset with me.
He said, "Well, I brought you along to keep an eye on the birds and to shoot a bird and only wound it is a terrible thing for a marksman, and to wound it and then lose it, that's even worse."
So from then on our relationship sort of cooled off, both with him and with his family, until it was time for me to go home, and I said goodbye to the young girl who was in the middle of a French lesson, and I demonstrated that I had learned how to count in Hungarian and they were very impressed, and the poor girl burst into tears. And, that was I think in 1936, and I kept writing them postcards even after I had gone to America, but I never got an answer.
So, that was important as a formative episode. Both in having relationships with people who live in a different civilization, that was basically the Hungarian agricultural conversation, and also it was really my introduction to history and politics, because of the books which the old man had lent me... big fat volumes of history that I found very interesting. So, that's what I offer as Story Number Two.
Walter: Can you play this back? is it in your machine?
Sarah: Yeah, I recorded it, now, um...
Ben: So that's good!
Kendal on Hudson, Sleepy Hollow, NY
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