Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sentimental Sunday: Checkmate

Thomas Joseph Benedict McLoughlin
I'm reading a book at the moment - well several really, but that's another story.  The longlist for the Booker Prize was recently announced so, as usual, I cherish this fantasy that I will be able to read them all and guess the shortlist.  The book I am reading is called "The Marrying of Chani Kaufman" and is about an ultra -Orthodox Jewish marriage.  It discusses various customs including behaviour on the Sabbat or what some of us might call the Sabbath.  If you want to see the 39 activities forbidden on the Sabbat click here.

My mother came from a mixed marriage - a Protestant who married a Catholic.  She used to tell me how Sundays were a bit of a sore point in her home when she was growing up.  Apparently my grandfather steadfastly resisted doing anything on a Sunday, being brought up a strict Catholic.  So no "work" of any kind. No housework, no work in the garden - but things still had to get done somehow - food had to come magically from somewhere i.e. my grandmother.

I remember that my grandfather loved reading and chess.  I presume this is what he did on a Sunday...and in fact, any day he could.

I've been scanning photos from his album and have found quite a few of him playing chess.


I remember whenever we went shopping at DJ's Elizabeth Street, I would always keep an eye out for him in case he was playing chess in Hyde Park where all the chess players used to congregate.  

 I'm not sure when or where these photos were taken.  I'm thinking the 1950s but I'm happy to be persuaded otherwise by experts in men's fashion.  I have conducted a cursory search of Trove using the string 'NSW Chess Association" and the surnames e.g. McLoughlin, Daniels, Pye etc.  There's a little bit there but much more to come I hope in the not too distant future.

I found this article:

The Newsletter, An Australian Paper for Australian People Saturday 31 August 1901
It's a bit before my grandfather's time (he was born in 1898) but I am interested that a Mr Daniels and an A. Swinfield are mentioned.  Perhaps fathers of the R.A. Daniels and the J. Swinfield that played with  my grandfather.  My mother went to Petersham so I think it is likely that Grandad played at Petersham Public School Chess Club or that it morphed into the Western Suburbs Division of the NSW Chess Association.

What do you think?  Do you play chess?  I'm hopeless at playing chess but great at reading.  What do you allow yourself to do on a Sunday?


diane b said...

An Interesting post. I love the old photos especially the first one. regarding the date of the photos:there is a date in the corner of the pennants that the men are holding. If you zoom in on the photos you should be able to read it. I tried with a magnifying glass it looks like 52 and 51 but it could be 42 and 41. My daughter lives above a jewish family she was astounded to find out what they can't do on Sunday, like not turning on and off lights. When I was young I had an Italian catholic boyfriend, I was surprised at what he wasn't allowed to do on Sunday like play music. Not being of any faith I do what ever I like on Sundays.

Alex Daw said...

Diane - thanks so much for reading this particular post. Yes the business about light switches is amazing isn't it? Thanks for pointing out the date business - that will surely help.