Susan, while on walkabout on Rock Creek here on the ranch, found a celluloid domino,
number 6/5, sticking up out of a sandbar. Extremely worn and battered, it appeared
old as the hills. The black dots were barely discernible, as well as the color.
At one time the color appeared to be tan or maybe somewhat clear. The mystery
today is: How did that domino wind up in a sand bar on a remote Rock Creek in
Fact: Celluloid is a compound created from nitrocellulose
and camphor, plus dyes and other agents. First created as Parkesine in 1855 in
England by Alexander Parkes, who patented his invention, it is generally regarded
to be the first thermoplastic.
Used mostly as a cheap substitute for ivory,
it found many uses down through the years. Celluloid is highly flammable and decomposes
easily. It was replaced by plastics and is used today mostly in table tennis balls
and guitar picks.
Theory No. 1 about how the domino got to Rock Creek is,
it was washed down by flood water from the headquarters a mile upstream. However,
two large dams have been built on the creek, one in the late 1930s and another
in 1952. This theory is possible but not very probable.
second theory finds the tornado that destroyed Howardwick in 1970 and dropped
tons of debris on the ranch, requiring crews to pick it up and a bulldozer to
bury it, somehow leaving the lonely domino lying on the creek bank. This is possible
but not very probable as the domino appears to be much older than 1970.
theory says a lonely cowboy, fond of playing dominos, was riding across the land,
heading to a distant domino game with a neighbor. He let the 6/5 domino fall out
of his pocket or saddlebag. Perhaps a group on a picnic or campers stopped momentarily
in the area and left this piece as a sign of their passing.
historian might state the domino was lost from a wagon train crossing the prairie.
A religious person might say the domino was lost during a brush arbor revival
once held on the creek banks. An educator might venture the domino was lost on
a school picnic. A family man once employed by the ranch might say his many children
ran wild and free on the ranch, and losing a domino was the cheapest thing they
lost. The people from Roswell, N.M., might say an unidentified flying space vehicle
from outer space landed, rested while recharging its batteries and played a game
of dominos, losing one in the process. Tracing the history of any old object can
the old mysterious celluloid domino cannot talk and tell the real story, any of
the above scenarios could be true. About the only thing that has been proved is
a writer who is full of it can write 512 words on almost any subject presented.
© Delbert Trew
29, 2011 column
Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164,
by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For books see delberttrew.com. His column appears weekly.
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