My Double Deck Pinochle Story

by USAFvet

May 24 2017

Intro: USAFvet is a card player who spends some of his time playing Double Deck Pinochle at World of Card Games. He shared a little bit about his pinochle history with me. I hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as I did! - Marya

I learned the game at my first duty assignment in the USAF at Edwards AFB, California. I arrived there in May 1967. Double-deck pinochle was the standard game. I knew nothing about it. My only card game experience was Old Maid and other children’s games. Card playing was frowned upon in my very fundamentalist Christian home. That was because poker was prevalent among the “wayward” adult population, and those folks generally gambled. My “black sheep” maternal grandfather was one of them.

Edwards is in the high Mojave Desert of California, many miles from any population center. (When you test fly aircraft, it's best that nothing is underneath when they fall from the sky!) I had no car. Therefore, my similarly situated GI buddies devoted our time and energy to pinochle. We played during our lunch breaks, most evenings, and non-stop on weekends. It was our principal form of entertainment. We played for fun. Money games were the domain of poker players. I liked my money in my pocket instead of the pocket of card sharks. I had the good fortune of learning from long-time players, many were career USAF men who had played for decades.

My best friend and roommate at Edwards was a fellow named Jim from Long Beach, California. I would go home for the weekends with him occasionally and was warmly welcomed by his mother and father, Goldie and Jim, Sr. He was an only child. His family had migrated to California from Nebraska in the Great Depression when the central plains of the country became the Dust Bowl. Single deck pinochle was the game they knew and taught me. We played three and four-handed. Jim, Jr. wasn’t a player.

My regular partner at Edwards was a fellow from Chicago named Kent. He was a braggart and was always challenging others to play us. My most memorable competition was against a Sergeant in our shop and his partner, another aircraft maintenance guy. We met one evening in the dorm room. We played for $1 per game, 1 penny for each point, and minus 25 cents each time we went set. We played for hours. At the end of the competition, both teams won an equal number of games and gone set an equal number of times. Kent and I won by ONE point. We collected our penny and departed. I don’t know who furnished the beer and snacks!!

From Edwards, I went to Vietnam. Few played pinochle. My first bunkmate, Dennis, and I were a team and played until he returned to the States a few months after my arrival. That was my last pinochle playing until January of this year. By the way, Dennis and I stay in touch with one another. He lives in Florida. I tracked him down a few years ago. We, along with some other Vietnam colleagues, have reunited a couple of times since. My subsequent duty stations after Vietnam had no pinochle players in my shop or barracks. Odd.