Playing Chess with John Wayne

In Buchenwald, Henry said “I was second in chess in all the camp you know.”  Another day we were just chatting about his California employer, and he says 

You know John Wayne was a very good chess player.

Huh? I would love to know how you played chess with John Wayne. 

I have my own room there in Willaimson’s house, a therapy room, he build for me.  And, who comes in to the courtyard, John Wayne. I didn’t recognize him at first so I was like ‘Can I help you?’

“Is Fred home” he says in his voice. So I bring him into the house. The house there was very nice. We are here standing in front of the house, and inside the house was a swimming pool.

Yes, like a courtyard.  And there were rooms around, and bathrooms on the right side, hunting room on the second, on this side from the street.  In the hunting room they have all trophies because they were safari hunters. And in he comes, I took him down to the kitchen, to the living room, and there they were and they start talking and I was sitting there. I was nobody. I act like I was somebody, but I was nobody for them.  So he tells us the story about ‘Hatari’, you know, making the movie ‘Hatari’.  

John Wayne said “Ya, but you see the lion was a small one, only through the magnifying glass they make it like I was fighting the big lion. So that’s one of the tricks.  And he just kept talking.  He was a very good chess player. I was not bad either. Before he left he stopped to play chess with me. One by one, I started losing. I lost the chess game to him.  I ran into him in the store another time. He remembered me and was like “Heh Henry, how are you.” But when he was shopping he always had a guard, to keep people from crowding him. I only met him those two times.

You know, he kept his boat the Wild Goose up north in Newport Harbor. – Henry Zguda

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