Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: For a project I am working on, I desperately need some music info.

In the old country hit, "Deck of Cards," by Tex Ritter, a deck of cards carried by a soldier is equated with a prayer book and an almanac.

Would you kindly list the cards mentioned and provide the reference made in the song to each.
—Roger Smith, York, Pa.

DEAR ROGER: We have had a few questions about this recording, a hit not only for Tex Ritter (1948), but also by "T." Texas Tyler (1948), Wink Martindale (1959), and Bill Anderson (1991). Hopefully, your questions will now be answered.

As the story goes, during WW2, and the North African campaign, some of the soldiers attended a church service. When it came time for the congregation to open their prayer books, one soldier, who had neither bible nor prayer book, spread out a deck of playing cards. He was taken into custody for playing cards in church. When brought before the provost marshal, he accounted for his action with the following rationale:

When I see the ace, it reminds me there is but one God
The deuce reminds me that the bible has two parts - the old and the new testaments
The trey reminds me of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
The four reminds me of the four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
The five reminds me of the five wise virgins who trimmed their lamps
The six reminds me that in six days God made this great Heaven and earth
The seven reminds me that on the seventh day He rested
The eight reminds me of the eight righteous persons (Noah and his family) God saved when he destroyed this earth
The nine reminds me of the nine lepers our Savior cleansed, and that nine of 10 didn't even bother to thank Him
The 10 reminds me of the 10 Commandments
The king reminds me that there is but one king - God almighty
The queen reminds me of the queen of heaven, the Virgin Mary
And the jack of knave is the Devil
There are 365 spots in a deck, the number of days in a year
There are 52 cards, the number of weeks in a year
There are four suits, the number of weeks in a month
There are 12 picture cards, the number of months in a year
And there are 13 tricks, the number of weeks in a quarter

Though not covered in the recitation, we are left to conclude that the charges against the soldier were summarily dismissed.

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