Born and raised in Woodhaven, Dr. Brady came home to help raise awareness of the Woodhaven Library 50K Committee and Friends of the Woodhaven Library, a group of local residents committed to raising funds to help get renovations to the local library off the ground. Copies of “Endgame,” his book about his long time friend chess legend Bobby Fischer, were on sale with all proceeds going to the project.
He cheerfully autographed copies of the book after the lecture, which focused on the life of the troubled chess master - and as a bonus, he spoke about his own life growing up in Woodhaven.
“One of the things I liked about the Woodhaven Library was that it was a place I could go, every day, six days a week, it was warm and it had all these books that I liked to read. Once I started reading, the books became my friends,” said Brady.
A graduate of St. Thomas the Apostle and Franklin K. Lane High School, today Dr. Brady is a full professor of communications at St. John’s University, and the president of the Marshall Chess Club, the most prestigious chess club in the country. He started his visit with a tour of his old library, which he credits with giving him his start as a writer, before speaking about his book.
In preparing “Endgame,” Dr. Brady was given access to a vast amount of private correspondence and, as a result, was able to explore Fischer’s entire life - his brilliance as a chess player, his less than straightforward parentage, and his descent into hate speech later in life.
This is a book by someone who played alongside him, played against him, and who knew him from a very young age.
He shared one recollection of a time when a 12-year old Fischer admonished an older man, who had made an ill-timed comment on his play in the midst of a game. “Little Bobby turned on the man and shouted ‘Please! This is a chess game! Be quiet!’ Now, in those days, you didn’t speak to an elder like that,” he said. “I said to myself ‘What resolve this kid has, what determination. How seriously he’s taking this game.’ It was incredible.”
Dr. Brady also shared recollections of growing up in Woodhaven. His family lived on Jamaica Avenue, right next door to the Haven Theater, they later moved to Jamaica Avenue and 75th Street, near the old Dexter Park where his family worked.
“My brother was the scoreboard keeper, my father worked in the parking lot. I worked as a foul ball boy and I sold peanuts,” he says. “I saw a lot of great players. I saw Satchel Paige pitch at Dexter Park.”
He also hawked The Leader-Observer on the streets of Woodhaven (“Three cents!” he would shout) and he also worked at the Forest Park Carousel in the late 1940s. “I started the carousel, I stopped it, I helped little children on and off the horses, I set up the brass rings. When I played chess at Forest Park during the summer, I would play into the night until it got dark, and hearing the music coming from the Carousel, Strauss Waltzes, I felt like I was in another age. It was like heaven. I didn’t want it to end.”
“Endgame” is available through Amazon and the paperback comes out in January. For more information about the Woodhaven Library’s $50K Committee, please contact Maria Concolino at (718) 849-1582.
-- By Ed Wendell, President of the
Woodhaven Residents Block Association