Tuesday, 19 July 2016


The young András Pető by night

'I shall tell you a scandal', said Mária Hári. And she did, barely able to contain her giggles.

Before the Great War, András Pető was living in Vienna with Jacob Moreno and three other students, in a sort of collective that they called the 'House of Encounter'.

The scant, word-of-mouth, accounts of András Pető 's early life include brief mention that Jacob Moreno set up a sort of 'trades union for prostitutes', an experience that apparently contributed to Jacob Moreno's thinking on group action. 

András Pető, Mária told, had other interests. He rather liked the prostitutes and their services, but was very short of money to indulge in them. So he helped himself from the small kitty that the House of Encounter kept for its collective needs, and slipped out after dark to indulge. 

In an attempt to prevent repetition of this Jacob Moreno took and hid András Pető's shoes at night, so that he could not go out. András Pető, however, was not to be denied, and went anyway. Barefoot. In winter, she said.

I do not know where Mária had heard this story, perhaps from András Pető himself, or perhaps from Jacob Mareno when he and his wife Zerka visited Budapest in the early nineteen-sixties. Mária found this little tale highly amusing, and told me it several times over the years – and no doubt shared it with others too.

I cannot recall having seen it written down elsewhere so I am pleased to pass it into the written record as an (unverified) contribution to a more rounded picture of the old rogue himself.

For something more on the House of Encounter, from Jacob Moreno's point of view, see:

Sutton, A. (2012) András Pető at university: a sideways glimpse into his life before the First War, 12 July

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This image of a barefoot medical student has nothing of course to do  with the concepts of a barefoot doctor or a barefoot conductor as raised before on Conductive World:

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