Sometimes Who-You-Know Knows.

When my wife was a little girl, she arranged to exercise a horse owned by a man who lived in a rural area a few miles from her home. Of course, as a horse crazy young woman, she did it for free. When the man returned from a European trip, he brought her a small white carved horse, a souvenir from a performance by the Lipizzaners, the  internationally famous ”white horses of Vienna”.

Back in the mid-70s, my wife and I were planning a trip to Hungary. As usual, our travels within Europe were all by train and that meant an overnight sleeper from Paris to Vienna where we would change trains for the four-hour ride to Budapest.

When we realized that our visit to Hungary would take us is though Vienna, it meant we might be able to fulfill my wife’s life-long dream—to see an actual performance by the Lipizzaners.

Is that a magnificent creature . . . or what!

The response to my inquiry was that there would indeed be a performance on our second and final night in Vienna, but even six months in advance it was already a complete sell-out. Not a ticket to be had. Not at any price.

And then . . . a miracle!  At a political fund raiser, I ran into Hans Strasser, who at the time was the genial and very likable general manager of the Colony Surf hotel in Waikiki. 

I told him how we were going to spend 48 hours in Vienna, but to our everlasting disappointment had learned that it was impossible to get tickets to see the Lipizzaners.

Hans smiled. Did I know, he asked, that he was the Honorary Viennese Consul in Hawaii? As it happened, I did know that.

Ah, but did I know that the Mayor of Vienna was a close friend of his, dating back to their teenage years?

Six months later, on our second and final night in Vienna, my wife and daughter and I were escorted to first row, ground level seats in the exact center of the magnificent Spanish Riding School arena.  The attendant informed us very gravely that we were seated in the Mayor’s box. Then he turned and nodded at an empty box in the first row of the balcony behind us. “The Emperor’s box”, he said, adding with just the hint of a smile, “I’m afraid he’s unable to attend this evening.”