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West High School & Jesse Owens

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West High School

West High School was located at West 30th Street in Cleveland where the O'Malleys and their spouses graduated. Frank Szabo attended from 1933 to 1937. Although Frank technically only needed 2 years of high school (part of his high school education was completed at St. Patrick's School), his grasp of the English language delayed his progress (he was fluent in Hungarian) and he attended West High for the full four years. He was captain of the basketball team, and won awards for Track and Field. In 1937, he completed a race in Cleveland Public Hall where he met Jesse Owens.

The commencement program from Frank's 1937 graduation

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Frank's track number from 1937

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Jesse Owens


Per Times Magazine "How Jesse Owens' Childhood Made Him the Champion Seen in [the movie called] 'Race'" by Jeremy Schaap (published February 19, 2016): Born James Cleveland Jones Owens on September 12, 1913 in Oakville, Alabama, he was the youngest of 10 children and nicknamed J. C. by his parents. Due to constant exposure from working in the cotton fields, Jesse had recurrent bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia. By the time the Owens family moved to Cleveland when J. C. was nine, his nickname was misunderstood due to his southern accent, and teachers referred to him as Jesse--a name that stuck. When he attended Fairmont Junior High School in Cleveland, his racing abilities drew the attention of Charles Riley, the track coach who continued to train Jesse after he attended East Tech High School. During his time at Ohio State University, he came under the tutelage of Larry Snyder who later mentored him to greatness. At OSU, he earned the nickname as the Buckeye Bullet. He participated in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany (site of Nazi power at the time) where he earned an astonishing 4 gold medals. Hitler did not congratulate him and left the stage when a non-Aryan excelled in Track and Field. Despite German job offers following his success, when Jesse returned home to Cleveland he was quickly reminded that his achievements couldn't overcome his skin color. Unable to find work, he later quipped that he couldn't eat his medals. He was reduced to stunts such as racing against horses, cars, and motorcycles just to feed his family. In 1937, after Frank Szabo ran the 400 yard dash in Cleveland Public Hall, he ran into the bathroom and almost passed out. He splashed water on his face, and looked up to see his idol,  Jesse James, who comforted him by saying that often happened to him. After this brush with fame, Frank was horrified to discover his hero went back to his own event at the Hall—racing against horses.  

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