Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Ivaan always wanted to take a photograph of these two men playing chess. Cyril Greenland, on the left,  is my father (and thus Ivaan's devoted father-in-law). Henry Morgentaler, on the right, is his longtime friend and frequent chess partner.  One day about ten years ago, when Dad dropped over to our house on Portland Street with Henry, Ivaan figured his moment had arrived. He loaded his Hasselblad camera with film.  I don't think he realized how seriously these men took their chess. They quickly made it clear that they didn't want a  camera shutter interrupting their concentration.  Cyril was a very superior chess player, but Henry played a ferocious game.  He didn't  lose often, and he certainly didn't lose graciously.  Ivaan didn't play  chess at all, and he wasn't remotely competitive, but he knew when he was beaten.  Cyril and Henry settled on the sofa for a chat, and Ivaan got a chance to take some photos of them in conversation.  I've occasionally been out with Henry and Cyril, and particularly from the rear, I  sometimes had difficulty figuring out who was who.  They were the same height, fairly bald, bearded, wearing glasses, they dressed alike, and they walked slowly.  In Cyril's case, it was because he didn't want Henry to lag behind.

Cyril died on New Year's Day, 2012, aged 92.  We miss him profoundly and remember him with the greatest warmth and affection.

This morning we received the sad news that Henry Morgentaler died peacefully at home, at the age of 90, with his beloved wife Arlene, and his family all around him.  I do not know if there is a Celestial Chess Board set up and waiting in The World To Come, but Henry, if there is,  Cyril has the pieces set up in preparation for your arrival.  And Ivaan has his camera loaded with film.  Those are some photos I'd love to see.  To Cyril and to Henry:  enjoy your game.  Ivaan, get a good shot and beam it back to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment