S. S. Trudeau

An Ann Arbor Sort of Story

This morning my doorbell rang. And bearded man with white hair was on the porch, his well-worn touring bicycle parked on the sidewalk. With a nod to the Library Board campaign signs I had set up for distribution on the porch, he asked if I was running. I confirmed indeed I was. He asked if I like to read (I do!) and said wanted to give me a book about a University of Michigan graduate who was also an Olympic medalist from Hungary. I said that sounds like an interesting story and he took my name and address so he could send it along. He'd' been biking from Niles to Grosse Ile, got caught in some rain and ended up recovering in the hospital. He is spending the day in Ann Arbor while he waits for the train out of town. Ann Arbor has changed a lot in the 50 years since he last visited but he said he appreciated seeing a city change and grow. We spoke a bit about politics and agreed the people complaining about the Governor were misguided and she deserves credit for saving Michiganders' lives. I'm not sure what exactly moved him to ring the bell. He didn't seem to need anything and he didn't ask for anything. Maybe he saw the Library Board signs, the affordable housing sign, the sunflower stand and the "I'd rather be biking" sticker on the back of our aging hatchback and wanted to chat for a bit with someone who he'd hoped would be a kindred spirit? Before he left, I asked his name: "Bill Smoke (but I don't smoke!)" he said.

I returned to my desk and before I jumped back into work I did some web searching, first to try to figure out the subject of the book he'd mentioned, who I believe is András Törő. A second search brought up this article about Andy Toro and the people who helped him defect from Hungary to the USA at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics: Bill & Marcia Jones Smoke.

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