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Learning from Old John

Growing up in Cape Breton, I found the rest of the world remote, strange, frightening. Then I met a man from Hungary who became a friend. The rest of world seemed closer then. It was only after he was gone that I discovered his last name. He was a European: Hungarian. And it was presumed his last name would be impossible to spell and easy to forget, so people didn’t ask while he was alive.  It was in the mid-fifties. It wasn’t unusual, so soon after the war, for people who were from Europe to be cautious about revealing their last names. A first name was usually enough for most. His first name was John. Or, as we all knew him, Old John.  When we finally discovered his last name, it was just as plain and easy to remember. Suto. He was John Suto. He showed up in my village

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