It seemed logical, in those Depression-era classes we read about yesterday, to include lessons in such practical matters as typing or reading Braille. The one class that Sam Bean taught that didn’t seem to fit the qualifications of austerity was chess.
A love of chess, however, became what focused Sam’s energies—and brought him recognition in his later years.
After those quiet years of early family life—and through the loss of his wife, Maud, in 1933—Sam resurfaced in newspapers five years later in reports about his prowess in local chess tournaments.
An article in the Oakland Tribune on April 15, 1938, recapped Sam’s life story and added this new chapter to the tale. The headlines for the page 12D report read “Chess Club Honors Blind Champion.” Of special interest is the fact that this article includes a photograph of the now middle aged Sam, still looking very much like his twin brother, William Bean, although somewhat slimmer. (The article and photograph may be accessed here, both by subscribers to NewspaperArchive.com as well as by guest viewers.) The photograph shows Sam with the specially built raised chess board which was given to him by his fellow club members.
Still facile at working with his hands despite his visual handicap, Sam had evidently kept up on his cabinetry skills, and had also become adept at stringing tennis rackets. Perhaps these were some of the additional ways in which Sam continued to maintain his financial independence and also provide for his two sons.
Alameda, April 14.—Although blind for 30 years, Samuel W. Bean, 43, of 1807 Santa Clara Avenue, is an outstanding chess player and cabinet worker.This week, as winner of the Alameda Chess Club’s season tournament, Bean was presented with a raised chess board, built especially for him by the club.Bean lost his sight when he was 13, the result of being hit with a rock while playing. The blow also destroyed his hearing.The injury did not, however, materially handicap him. In the hope someday his sight and hearing might be restored, Bean kept mentally and physically alert.In addition to winning his own club competition, he won the Alameda group’s competition with the Mechanics Institute of San Francisco.Bean does expert cabinet work and strings tennis rackets between chess matches.As early as 1915 he won a gold medal for work done by the handicapped at the Pan-American Exposition of that year.