Sunday, January 28, 2007

Going to the Boneyard

Alabama sang "If you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band". I would add that if you're gonna play a game in Texas, you had better own a box of dominoes, or "bones"! From old men sitting around in small town ice houses playing straight dominoes, to clubs dedicated to playing "42", dominoes are a part of life in Texas and Oklahoma.

Some of my earliest childhood memories include playing regular dominoes with my father and grandfathers, and watching the adults gather four to a table for a competitive round of 42. To this day, the sound of dominoes shuffling on the table bring back a lifetime of memories of days and people long gone.

While I still like regular dominoes, I absolutely love 42. Unfortunately, it is apparently not played much in Colorado. Story has it that the game was invented by a Baptist boy whose parent's would not let him play cards, believing them to be a tool of Satan. Forty-two does have much in common with some popular card games, including the use of trumps, capturing "tricks", and bidding. Terms like "I'll start it", "Low-boy", and "Follow me" have meaning to the 42 afficianado.

While scoring can be done by keeping track of numeric values of bids made and lost, everyone I know uses the ALL method. Each successful bid earns one "mark", which is one of the lines in the letters "ALL". If your opposing team gets ALL before you and your partner gain a single mark, you have been skunked!

The dominoes in the picture above are like the ones I remember from early childhood. They are made of wood painted black, with the dots or "pips" recessed and painted with white enamel. The reverse always had an emblem of some sort embossed into the wood. The set in the picture was made by Halsam, and contained an eagle with arrows in its talons. I also remember a set that had a lion emblem on the back.

Sometime during my late childhood, these wooden dominoes became less popular, as Puremco of Waco, Texas produced what they called "Marble-like Dominoes". These came in a variety of colors, and were made of a durable plastic that was, well, kind of like marble. These came in chipboard boxes coated with a textured surface. I used to have a set, but over the years, they have gotten away from me. I am seriously thinking about ordering myself a new set HERE, and maybe even getting them personalized.

While there are other games with dominoes that have come into vogue, such as Chickenfoot and Mexican Train Dominoes, nothing beats a good round of 42!

As for me, I think I'll bid 84!

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