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  • Tom Boyd

Bantams & Chess - Here's the Story...

When I was 11, we moved from Georgia to Santa Rosa California. Before Santa Rosa - Grades K to 5 - I went to four different schools mainly with children like me - from military families. My Dad was career army, and the military moved us around a lot.

Then everything changed in Grades 6 to 12 (Santa Rosa), as Dad was stationed at the San Francisco Presidio, later doing another tour of Korea. None of my classmates were children of military personnel; we were not of the same background.

My brother was bored with me hanging around (he was seven years older and interested in girls), so he taught me chess. Soon after, he joined the army.

I was a member of the chess club in junior high school and high school, though I didn't have the benefit of chess books, teachers or computers. I rarely had anyone to play with outside the club, and the club only met during lunch, so I would play solo chess for hours.

I don’t know how chickens or kids determine who is to be picked on and isolated from their society. Looking back, I believe that chess and bantams saved my sanity—almost as I did try suicide at 16. I understand school shootings. I never had that thought, though I did wish my entire class bad weather for every event and every class reunion since.

Someone asked me once if my time in Vietnam was the worse time of my life. I replied that the three years of high school I considered a close second if not the worse.

Never underestimate the value of the seemingly small things in the life of another. The time you spend playing a game; the relationship that someone has with an animal (no matter what kind); the pain that a person experiences as a result of bullying - from tiny microaggressions to hateful acts - walk gently - we never know about what's happening in the lives of others.

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