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South Texas Living

Remembering the classic, ‘42’

Remembering the classic, ‘42’
Keith Wauson looks on as Lawrence Zook Jr., Sam Zook, Jack Brown, and Bob Zook play 42 at the 2010 Zook Reunion in San Antonio.

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Rainy Days and Starry Nights
May 29, 2013

The domino game called “42” was invented 124 years ago. I learned to play the domino game of 42 when I was still a teenager or younger. If you are from Texas and grew up in the country or a little town, you learned to play 42 or as some call it, “Texas 42.”

My daddy loved to play 42, and all my brothers loved to play too. My sisters and I learned to play, but when we had family reunions or a family get-together it was the men who, when dinner was over, always had a table or two, depending on if there were eight men there. If not, they waited their turn to sit in a game. That way they had a tournament going on.

My husband Eddie was an avid 42 player. But he loved to play any game, be it 42, Shoot the Moon, or cards; he was an excellent gin rummy, bridge, and canasta player. But all the women were in the kitchen cleaning up, or in the other room gossiping or catching up on the family news. At times when my niece Lisa Gray is there, she will join the men in their 42 games. She loves the game too.

The other day I was watching “Texas Country Reporter” and I learned that the Texas State Championship for 42 is held in Hallettsville the first Saturday in March each year. In 2011, 42 was designated the official State Domino Game of Texas. Watching the 42 tournament on the TV last Sunday got me to thinking, “When was 42 invented?”

I researched it and I learned there were several claims to this invention. The one I liked the most was the story that it was two teenage boys from Parker County 45 minutes west of Fort Worth that thought up the game. The story goes that the two brothers were caught in the barn playing cards with friends. Their father punished them severely because playing cards was a sin in those days. So they turned to dominos, which was not deemed to be a sin. The two boys devised the rules for a bidding game with dominos -- with trumps, and four people played the game -- two partners against the other two. And the game spread. That was in 1887, 126 years ago.

When my family gets together for birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Fourth of July picnics, or family reunions, you can still find a table of 42 somewhere, be it in a back room, or the back yard, or under the shade of a big old oak tree at the park. No matter how hot the weather, if it was 95 or 100 degrees, the 42 game went on, the perspiration rolling down their faces, and the sound of the dominoes being shuffled, clacking, as the men who had won that hand laughed and losers muttered “shuffle the dad-gum dominoes.”

I wonder if my daddy is playing 42 in heaven with Eddie Wauson, Johnny Wauson, Willie Wauson, and Richard Wauson. They loved the game too.

Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century. After many years living in other parts of Texas, she now lives and writes in Floresville. Her two books are available from the Wilson County News office. Email her at

Your Opinions and Comments

May 30, 2013 8:55am
And all without air conditioning. :)

Elaine K.  
May 29, 2013 10:14pm
Oh yes. The game of 42 was almost a relgion when we were growing up. My parents and grandparents would gather round the table and shuffle the dominoes. They played moon but preferred 42. They also would combine two sets of dominoes ... More ›

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