Webmaster's note:

Freelance writer Sheryl Smith-Rodgers of Blanco, Texas, wrote a comprehensive article for Texas Co-op Power magazine about 42 that was well researched and presented. I was amazed at how well she captured the essence of the game and its players.

It took some gentle arm-twisting, but she agreed to do the commentary and share it with the 42 community. Thank you, Sheryl. Your contribution is sincerely appreciated.   - PP

Commentary by Sheryl Smith-Rodgers

First off, allow me to confess that I am not a bona fide 42 player.

That said as a disclaimer, Mr. Paul Proft so kindly asked and encouraged that I submit a commentary to his excellent website, texas42.net. I agreed. I am honored.

But WHY, you must certainly and rightfully ask, would I be lobbied to be included among such fine 42 notables as columnist Lonn Taylor, author Dennis Roberson, and many tournament champions?

Well, here’s why: I wrote a magazine article about the domino game you so dearly love. It was the story that graced the January 2017 cover of Texas Co-op Power–"The Top Spot."

That's what I do. I write for a living.

Before I go any further, I'd like to mention that I am a sixth-generation Texan, born and raised in Corpus Christi. I've lived in Blanco since 1989. Though I didn't grow up playing 42, I did learn (and play) regular dominoes. Every August on the Weedy Creek in Live Oak County, many of my Dobie kinfolk would play dominoes (it was 42, my mother now tells me) at card tables beneath the live oaks. I well remember those family reunions in the '60s and '70s.

Fast forward to December 2015. That's when a cousin on my father's side suggested I write a story about a domino game called 42. He said it originated in Texas and well deserved recognition. I agreed he had a good idea. But then I promptly forgot about it.

Until, during a lull in my work assignments, I remembered Cousin Ray's idea and started poking around online. Indeed, an article about the game WOULD make a great story! I pitched the idea to my editor, and he thought it might make a nice two-page story. I dug deeper and came up with so much information that we turned it in a cover article.

As part of my research, I met up with the Blanco 42 Club a few times, and they kindly allowed me to join some games. At that point, I still didn't understand the meaning of "trumps" and "tricks," "bids" and "marks." I was clueless. They were patient. To help better learn how the game worked, I bought the Texas 42 HD app and played by myself on my tablet. That helped.

In March 2016, I attended the Texas State Championship 42 Domino Tournament in Hallettsville. With notebook in hand, I arrived by 8:30 a.m. and mingled with the 73 teams who had come to compete. All day long, I watched. I listened. I visited with folks in between rounds. I ate a little barbecue at noon. Bleary eyed and tired, I stayed until the new champs received their prizes and had their pictures taken around 10:30 p.m. or so.

During the course of writing the article, I bought my own vintage set of green Puremco dominoes off eBay. It just seem fitting to do so.

By the end of writing my piece, I knew 42 inside and out. What's more, I'd met a lot of great folks, both in person and online. In March 2017, I was thrilled when 42 fan Kent Kopnicky reported that 184 teams turned out for the 2017 Texas State Championship 42 Domino Tournament in Hallettsville. Our Texas Co-op Power magazine article–with wonderful photos by Wyatt McSpadden–had helped boost the game! Even a spunky seven-year-old girl, who later joined the Austin 42 Club, competed with her uncle. I see her now and then on the National 42 Player's Association's Facebook page.

As a freelance writer, I've since moved on to new assignments. For instance, I just finished an in-depth piece on "the devil in Texas." As part of my research, I dug up the name of an 1880s poet who, through the years, lost credit for penning an original poem that turned into a folk ballad called "Hell in Texas" (also called "The Devil Made Texas"). Later, I bought a 1940s vintage "Hell in Texas" postcard on eBay.

It just seemed fitting to do so.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers
15 August 2017

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