Very good topic.
Frank, yes that would have been good for you and Dad to match wits. Chess is a good game, very simple rules, once you know the pieces, and what they can and can't do. We had a little "chess club" while I was in high school. We always had the boards set up, back in the corner of the library, where we could concentrate.
Just thinking about it now, probably the easiest way to learn would be to just ask someone to play a game with you 1 on 1. Have him/her explain the rules, for each piece.
There for a while, I played online a good bit, Yahoo Games. That will match you up against another real person. Just stay away from the "timed games", sometimes you might only have a chance to make 2 moves, times up, and you lose!