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 Donley County?
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.
A 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.
Another 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.
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 be tedious.
Since 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
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