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A New Friend With Connections

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June 26

Written July 21

Dear Friends and Families,

This is a story of connections.

This connection started after Marianne's first Department of Defense Dependents' Schools (DoDDS) teaching job ended with base closing and we had decided to buy our own old house in Bavaria. One of Marianne's friends recommended a book called "This Old House on the Lake", by Judith Balogh. It is the story of a couple who returned to Hungary after the fall of Communism to reclaim his family home in a small village, not far from the famous Balaton lake. Later, during our own remodel, we sympathized even more with their struggles of fixing a wreck in an adopted country.

The other part of the connection was that Judith Balogh had also been a DoDDS teacher and had also retired early because of base school closings in Germany. And, of course both Marianne and Judith started life as Hungarian refugees in Germany and would both end up in the States, becoming Hungarian-Americans.

With all these connections , Marianne started an email correspondence with Mrs. Balogh, just in case we would ever pass her way. When Marianne told her step-mom of this new Hungarian connection, Klare declared that she and Judith had attended the same school in Germany, as refugees in the aftermath of WWII, over 50 years earlier. It is a small world indeed.

So, when we outlined our Hungarian driving tour, our first stop would be the Old House on the Lake.

After some amount of struggle finding the village of Zalasabar, Judith and her husband Gyözö (Victor, in English)met us on the street in front of the Old House, now hidden by plantings from the restoration in the early 90's. We were greeted like old friends and served a wonderful summer lunch, while we chatted in a mixture of Hungarian (all but me), English, and German.

After lunch, Judith took Marianne and me up to their ex-vineyard up on the hill behind the village. Years ago, they had raised grapes for their own wine but decided the work was too much and the wine not as good as that of their neighbors. Now, it's just a peaceful place to sit and look out on the Balaton valley. (The view is available on our "panorama" page.)

The conversation with Judith continued in this lovely setting and we resolved to make sure we would return, and keep Zalasabar on our agenda.


And that's the story of our first connection on this trip, but there would be more friends and family over the next week-and-a-half.

Take care and stay in touch, we may even visit YOUR neighborhood.

John and Marianne


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