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Tenaha, Timpson, Bobo and Blair


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"If you judge notoriety by the number of times the name of a place is spoken, the likelihood is that the most famous towns in Texas are Tenaha, Timpson, Bobo and Blair. The reason for this is that there are so many dice players in the world. When trying to make ten with dice, crap shooters everywhere are apt to holler "Tenaha, Timpson, Bobo and Blair," even though they may not know what these four words mean. These four towns are strung out along U.S. 59 in the East Texas county of Shelby.
Now how in creation did four little places in East Texas ever get to be so common on the tongues of dice players. I once set out to solve that mystery. At Tenaha, Bobo, and Blair I found no one who could shed any light on the matter.

At Timpson, I located R.R. Morrison, Colonel, U.S. Army (retired) who said that the old dice shooter's cry had its beginnings right there in town just before World War I. Morrison was then captain of a local company of infantry organized as Fory's Fusileers, named in honor of a Timpson railroad agent, H.R. Fory. The Fusileers later became Company B, 3rd Texas Infantry, of the National Guard, and Colonel Morrison led the company to France in World War I.
Just before leaving home the infantrymen in that company had a few dice games, as soldiers anywhere are apt to do before going overseas, or even when they're coming home, for that matter. Anyway, while talking to the dice as crapshooters do and calling on them to make ten, one of the boys happened to yell, "Tennyhaw!"

Which inspired another, who was apparently betting his friend would make the point, to answer with "Timpson!" and somebody threw in Bobo and Blair. This was a natural thing, for the four towns lay within a few miles of each other along the railroad and passengers were accustomed to hearing the stations called out in that order. And it made a nice alliterative phrase, pleasing as it rolled off the tongue.
The names of the soldiers who applied this cry to crap shooting will remain forever a mystery, but the fact is clear that the phrase sailed to Europe with Fory's Fusileers. There it fell on fertile ground and spread to dice games the world over. During World War II in Europe I heard dice players from New York and Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, and California and various other states invoking the dice to make ten in the name of Tenaha, Timpson, Bobo and Blair, but I never found one who'd believe me when I explained that those are the names of four small towns in Shelby County, Texas.

----- Leon Hale, "Turn South at the Second Bridge," 1964

Shown here: The Tenaha depot circa 1900. Sent in by Traces of Texas reader Barry Burn

May be an image of train and railroad


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