My father is an avid chess player, so it didn’t surprise me to
see him start to teach his grand-daughter the game when she was just a tot. He taught her to recognize the different chess pieces before she was four years old. It wasn’t long before our little Wendy knew that the piece with the horse’s head was called a knight, the one with the crown was the queen and the one with the crown and a cross on top was the king.
Shortly afterward, we were all out for a Sunday walk when we
passed an old, crowded cemetery. The scene was new to little Wendy, and she stopped and stared with widened eyes. Rows of tombstones filled the landscape as far as her eyes could see,
“Look, Grandpa,” she cried in amazement, “it’s a big chess set with millions of kings!”
Lady M writes: This was a favorite story that my mother would tell. I still have that “look at the chess pieces” feeling when I drive past a cemetary.
When my grandfather spent the winter at the Miami Beach home of his sister Rose, we expected trouble, for they were both in their seventies and both strong-minded and cantankerous. They surprised us all by getting along quite well, except for one thing that seemed to get on Grandpa’s nerves–Rose’s habit of referring to her friends, all ladies of advanced age, as the girls. “I’m meeting the girls for lunch,” she would say, to his mounting irritation, or, “I’m going to play cards with the girls.”
He restrained himself from making any comments, however, until one day when she really got to him, and he blew his cork. He had been sitting out on the front lawn playing chess with a friend, while she was in the house preparing dinner. The chess game had attracted a small group of onlookers, one of whom was a young girl, about 19 or 20 years old. When the game ended, the girl asked Grandpa if he would play a game with her. Grandpa has never lost his eye for a pretty face or a well-turned ankle, so he readily agreed. While they were playing, he became aware that Rose was keeping them under close surveillance. Every few minutes she would look out at them from the kitchen window or peer out the front door. When the game ended, and the young lady had said goodbye and left, Rose stormed out of the house and made straight for Grandpa. Shaking her finger at him accusingly, she spewed out the question that made him explode!
“Just who,” she asked, “was that woman you were playing chess with?”
Lady M writes: These collected anecdotes were written during the 1970’s; but if my grandfather was in his 70’s during this story, the time frame must have been the late 50’s or early 60’s. Grandpa was born in 1888.
The photo is of my grandfather and mother, taken at my Aunt’s house, sometime in the late 70’s.