STORM CENTER: ‘42’ truly a Texas game

Football isn’t the only game Texans take seriously.
Let me suggest you pay a visit to the Bowie Senior Citizens Center in Pelham Park some morning and watch elder statesmen and stateswomen of this fine community play a game called “42.”
The game of “42,” in my opinion, is one of those games that make living in the state of Texas unique, ranking right up there with Whataburger and driving on the shoulder to allow others to pass.
In August 1985, Fort Worth Star-Telegram writer Christopher Evans traced “42” back to its roots in the 1880s.
Reportedly in the town of Garner, today an unincorporated community northwest of Weatherford, two boys named Walter Earl and William A. Thomas invented “42.”
Earl, 14, and Thomas, 12, were the children of devout Baptists, and they were caught playing cards in the hayloft of a barn. In those days, it was considered sinful to play cards. The boys were disciplined for their mischievous activity.
That’s when the boys set out to find a way to play cards through a different medium, and dominoes became the vehicle for this derivation.
By the fall of 1887, the boys devised a four-player game using double-six dominoes that incorporated both the concepts of bidding and trumping.
Dominoes were “an acceptable activity,” and the boys began teaching others how to play. Their families later moved to Windom in Fannin County, and “42” was brought there as well.
Thomas recounted his story during a 1927 interview with the Dallas Journal, he died 19 years later, but the game is living quite well these days – including here in Bowie. Read more from this column in the weekend edition of The Bowie News.

(From left) Izella Boyd, Roe Daughrity, Billie Williams and Jean Hatch play a game of “42” on Wednesday morning at the Bowie Senior Center in Pelham Park. The women are regulars, and it’s one of the most popular games played at the facility according to center assistant director Lynda Medley. (News photo by Eric Viccaro)