Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


May 10, 2014

Trumping the competition

Group gathers to play 42 each month

JACKSONVILLE — In Douglas Adams' novel, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, it was the answer to life, the universe and … everything. While the British author probably was not paying tribute to the popular domino game called "42," for some area residents it's the perfect answer to meeting new friends, staying mentally fit and sharing a favorite dish.

Jacksonville Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society members and others have been meeting every first Wednesday of the month for years, to play 42 and other games and share a potluck lunch before holding Society business meetings.

“You don't have to be a member to play,” said Woodmen of the World field rep Terri Underwood. “Anyone with a love for a rousing game of dominoes, or any other table game, is welcome.”

According to the website, www.texas42.net, 42 is a strategic game similar to the card game Bridge.

“Some folks say 42 (also called Texas 42) was conceived by a lad in East Texas because his parents would not let him play cards; others say 42 originated in Georgetown,” the site states. “The most widely publicized story, however, says 42 started in Garner, Texas, in 1887.”

Many local players can especially relate to the first version.

"We played dominoes because Mother wouldn't even let cards into the house," Jacksonville resident Margaret Hightower recalled with a laugh, as her tablemates nodded in agreement.

Erma Carpenter explained, "Playing cards was considered gambling then - it didn't matter what game it actually was. We weren't even allowed to play Old Maid."

A rule that sticks to this day, as all games anyone plays at the Woodmen of the World sessions – including the card ones – are played for fun only.

Many players at Wednesday's game fondly remember learning and playing 42 and other games with family and friends, and said they keep playing, not only for the social aspects of it, but for the mental challenge as well.

Ponta resident Virginia Bush recalled "when I was growing up, there was the little old man who ran the store who built a room at the back, and every Saturday night he'd let the young people come and play 42 together. Our parents allowed it because they knew he didn't allow no hanky-panky!”

Jacksonville resident Roy Jimmerson said, “I've played ever since I can remember and I remember playing by coal oil light. That was our entertainment then and it's still entertaining today.”

Simpson echoed Jimmerson's sentiment, adding “I love the social aspect of it, of course, but it certainly helps keep the brain sharp, too.”

Those good times continue today, even though participation has dropped steadily in recent years.

“We used to have as many as six tables going at once,” long-time player Lois Davis said. “And a lot of younger people don't want to learn to play – they say it's for 'old people.'”

Woodmen of the World financial rep Chris Green, of Bullard, was the youngest player – the only non-retiree – at this month's gaming session.

“I'd never even played 42 before coming here,” he admitted. “But I used to play Spades and it wasn't hard to pick up. I like the strategy of it. It's fun. I want to teach it to my own family, but they're just not interested.”

Every player at Wednesday's gaming session said they'd be thrilled to teach anyone interested in learning how to play.

“It really is pretty simple,” Bobbi Simpson, of Jacksonville, said, then added jokingly, "The hardest part is coming up with something new to bring for the lunch.”

And it's always in good fun.

“Everyone is a good sport, even if there's a lot of trash talk coming from that table over there,” Green joked with a wink, indicating the table where Margaret Hightower and Lois Davis were playing with their respective partners, Bobbi Simpson and Jean Petri – eliciting peals of laughter in response.

Games begin at 9 a.m., every first Wednesday of the month at the Woodmen of the World building, 315 CR 3101 in Jacksonville. Lunch is served around 11:30 a.m. with the business meeting following.

Contact Woodmen of the World representative Terri Underwood at 903-586-5402 for more information.


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