Dominoes take center stage on Labor Day

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 4, 2007

NATCHEZ — In a spot where the grills are usually smoking away, the guys in the neighborhood around George F. West Boulevard and Daisy Street took the day off and celebrated Labor Day with a laid back game of dominoes.

With the sun still high in the sky, the shade was getting good use as Chokesa Johnson, Robert Franklin, Pat Owens and Carnell Tucker gathered under a pecan tree behind Daisy Street Groceries to joke and compete for bragging rights around 2 p.m. Monday.

“You couldn’t pay me to get behind a grill,” said Johnson before yelling “Domino,” and slamming a bone on the wooden table. “I’m taking it easy today.”

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Three makeshift chairs and the front bumper of Tucker’s Camaro provided the seating, leaving conversation and a cold drink to take minds off the 90-something degree weather.

Since it’s a common thing to pull up to the store on a Sunday or any given holiday and find a crowd “talking noise” to each other about a football or basketball game as they wait on food to finish cooking on the grill, the small number of folks gathered at the store was an uncommon sight on a holiday.

“Usually we’d have maybe two grills burning but not today, it’s hot,” said scorekeeper and sometimes cook Franklin. “Oh they’re have a big barbecue around the street, some of the guys that are usually up here, but we’re here and this is what we’re going to do.”

The four guys have known one another for many years and spending time enjoying each other’s company is something they’ve done for many of those years.

“I’ve been in this area for over 20 years,” Tucker said. “Robert and Cho (Franklin and Johnson) were both born over here, that’s over 30 years for each of them. And Pat’s been living over here about 10 years but I’ve known him all my life,” he said.

“This is what we do, just a bunch of homeboys taking it easy,” added Franklin as he flipped the dominoes to mix them before starting another game. “And if the lord say the same you’ll find us here next year, and maybe one of these lazy suckers will cook!”