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Wed, 04 Sep 2013 03:52:59 EDT by admin, 53899 views
Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA
History paper by Várdy, Steven Béla and Várdy, Ágnes Huszár (all papers)
IMRE SARI-GAL Chronicler of Cleveland Hungarian Life
The paper is to be presented by Steven B. Vardy and Agnes H. Vardy.
In the course of the four decades before the outbreak of World War I, well over a million Hungarians [Magyars] emigrated to the United States, mostly to the northeastern industrial cities of America. Among these cities was Cleveland, Ohio, which by 1914 had over 60,000 Hungarians, working in the steel mills and factories of that industrial city. Most of theses immigrants came as guest workers, but for several reasons at least three fourths of them remained here permanently.
The life and labors of these Hungarians has been chronicled by Susan M. Papp in her monograph, Hungarian Americans and their Communities of Cleveland (1981). What was still needed was the description of Cleveland as a “living city,” with two major centers of Hungarain life. These included the Buckeye Road Area on the East Side, and the Lorain Avenue Area on the West Side. Both of these were classical Little Hungaries that survived into the late 20th century.
The man who took on the task to describe these Little Hungaries was Imre Sári-Gál (1923-2006) -- a poet and amateur historian -- who did this in two separate volumes: Az amerikai Debrecen [The American Debrecen] (1966), and Cleveland Magyar Múzeum [The Cleveland Hungarian Museum] (1978),
Born into a peasant family in Füzesabony in eastern Hungary Imre Gál managed to rise above his original social class by virtue of his ability and willingness to study. He enrolled at a nearby Teachers’ College, where he earned a Teache’s Certificate in 1945, the year that brought Soviet Communist domination to Hungary. Although his social background should have been an advantage for him, because of his dedication to his nation and to his people, he could barely survive in Soviet-dominated Hungary.
After the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, Imre took the chance to leave his country and try his luck in the United States. After several years of training he became a heart surgery technician at the famed Cleveland Clinic, where he worked until his retirement in the late eighties.
In addtion to portraying life in Cleveland’s Little Hungaries, Imre also wrote poetry in which he described his struggles and his attachment to his two countries. After much soul-searching he repatriated to Hungary, hoping to find happiness in the country of his birth. That was not to be. By the early 21st century Hungary was not the country he had left behind. He also missed his America that had given him so much after his flight from Hungary. We encountered him in Budapest a few months before his death, where he revealed his yearning for the United States and the city of Cleveland.
Brief Professional Bio:
Prof. S.B. Vardy,.Ph.D., is a McAnulty Distinguished Professor of European History at Duquesne University, longtime Director of the University's History Forum, and former Chairman of the Department of History.
He is the author, co-author, or editor of two dozen scholarly books, well over one-hundred scholarly articles, and nearly one-hundred encyclopedia articles and book reviews.
Prof. Agnes Huszar Vardy, Ph.D., is a former professor of English and Communications at Robert Morris University, is now Adjunct Professor of Comparative Literature at Duquesne University.
Prof. Vardy is the author, co-author, or editor of nearly a dozen books, and close to a hundred articles, essays and reviews. She is also the author of two historical-social novels, Mimi and My Italian Summer.