It’s a Small World!
In his youth, in Budapest, my husband Oscar had been a sprinter and broad jump athlete with the MAC – Magyar Athletikai Club (see the November 2008 issue of Magyar News Online: “Where Did Those Olympians Come From?”)
The club often hosted international competitions at their Margitsziget athletic fields. At one such, in the 1930’s, Oscar became acquainted with a Japanese pole vaulter named Oe (that was his last name!), although I have no idea how they communicated.
In time, Oscar eventually emigrated to the US, and worked for PanAm, in ever higher capacities. Among other assignments, he was also an official troubleshooter, and for the successful resolution of some major problem, he would be rewarded with a ticket to the destination of his choice. One time he decided to visit Japan (this was before we had met).
In Japan, he went about seeing the sights. On a ride on the famous bullet train, his seat mate was a Japanese gentleman who spoke English. Oscar mentioned to him that he knew only one person in Japan, an athlete by the name of Oe. To which his seat mate replied with surprise: “He was my next-door neighbor!”
No, the odds don’t really matter, because IT’S A SMALL WORLD!
(Checking the internet, I found that Sueo Oe tied with another Japanese athlete named Shuhei Nishida for the bronze medal in pole vaulting at the Berlin Summer Olympics of 1936. When it was suggested that they compete against each other to decide the winner, they declined. Nishida was arbitrarily awarded the silver medal. On their return to Japan, they had their medals cut in half and spliced together, so each of them had a half silver and half bronze medal. Oe was killed in the Battle of Wake Island in December 1941.
Oscar had a good chance to attend the 1936 Olympics himself, but he tore a tendon setting a broad jumping record, and could no longer compete.)