Welcome to Wise

INSIDE THE FRAME by Joe Duty

County seat view of history

By Brandon Evans | Published Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Messenger photo by Joe Duty

History sits in the front seat like a passenger. We carry it with us wherever we go. No matter how far we travel we are composites of all that has passed before us. Every detail, from a small stone we step over to a massive granite courthouse that blankets us in cool shadow, plays a role in who we are today.

Pink fuzzy dice recall the seedy notes of Decatur’s past and the phrase “Eighter from Decatur.” It came from a time when gambling was common in this part of the country. There are several possibilities to the origin, but my favorite and I think most likely is found in Cliff D. Cates’ “The Pioneer History of Wise County.”

Ada was a popular black girl who lived in Decatur, according to Cates. Supposedly, when black cowboys who worked at the Waggoner Ranch were trying to role an eight in craps, they’d exclaim “Ada from Decatur, County Seat of Wise.” This phrase for good luck caught on and became known throughout the world in gambling circles.

Our roaming photographer captured this image already framed in the front windshield of a Jeep parked at the Decatur Square early this spring. The reflection of the courthouse provides an instant sense of place. The dice further emphasizes the location. The shot didn’t require anything technical, just a bit of luck, timing and a shout-out to Ada.

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