When the winter chill comes, area farmers leave the fields to play dominoes

(CNJ staff photo: Tova Fruchtman) Charlie Fields, left, Paul D. Barnes, center, and Jay Boone get ready to start a new round at the Curry County 42 League Monday night meet between the Pleasant Hill and Center-Aucutt teams.

Tova Fruchtman

The clanking of the dominoes hitting one another overshadows the 20 men’s voices.

Their table is dusted with sand to ease shuffling, and decorated on each corner with the sponsor’s name and address of a business. The card tables are so old — estimated to be more than 25 years — that many of the businesses have relocated or no longer exist.

The players line up their dominoes on their sides, so that each person can only see his own dominoes, and begin to toss them into the center.

The men are part of the Curry County 42 League that has been meeting for more than 40 years.

Each Monday evening in the winter, 10 groups of 10 men meet in locations across the county to play.

It’s organized like most sports leagues. One team of 10 men plays at home, and another team of 10 are the visitors. Teams are based on the towns where the people who started them live — Broadview, Pleasant Hill, Center, Texico, Ranchvale and Clovis.

The teams divide into pairs and play against pairs from their opponents’ team.

Each game is 15 minutes, and the teams play a dozen 15-minute games each night.

There is little chatter that isn’t about the game, and that only comes once they have finished a round, or when they break for coffee and doughnuts after the first six games.

Gerald Whitner is the third generation of his family in the league. But he said he doesn’t think he knows all of the tricks to playing well. He learned how to play after he got married, when he and his wife started playing with his parents.

The farmer/rancher from Pleasant Hill said playing in the league gets his mind off business.

Dewey Pierce, the recording secretary for the club, said most of the members are farmers, and that almost all of the founding members worked in agriculture.

He said their professions are the reason they have the nine sessions leading up to the championship during the winter months.

“That is kind of the slack time for the agriculture business,” he said.

Whether it’s just excess slack time, the fun of the game or the coffee and doughnuts that keeps the 100 men coming back each year, the club seems to be thriving.

Men young and old alike play, and there are even some father-son pairs.

This isn’t a club that will die with the generation that started it.

Pierce said he thinks he started playing when he was in high school.

Last year, his son and his son’s partner were the best couple in the overall tournament, Pierce said.

And Pierce said he would continue to return, year after year.
“We just love the game and love the camaraderie,” he said.

On the Web

Learn how to play Dominoes 42 online:

http://www. proft.50megs.com/tx42.html