Jo's World

A Great Story About a Story ~ Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

I just got this story from my sister Merry… Yup, she’s Merry with an “e,” not an “a.”

I always wondered about that one… I was born on December 21, and Merry was born on March 19th. She, too, would have been a good “Jo,” but the names were reversed. I lived with that, but always wondered why.

That was remedied, though, one December in the mid 1980s. Merry was living in New York City, and asked me to come spend some time with her, just before Christmas (and during my birthday). All I had to do was fly in, and she’d drive us both back to Maine for the holidays.

As my mother always said, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” so off I went.

It was then that I learned why Merry is “Merry.” She gave me a birthday and Christmas gift of a lifetime. She took me to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes doing their holiday show. She took me to the Broadway production of “Me and My Gal.” We went skating in Central Park at Wolman Rink. We shopped Fifth Avenue, my favorite shopping in the world, because I’ve never been to Paris. And, we went out to Long Island on the LIE, to visit with all of her friends in Port Washington. This is a waterfront community, so we visited with one couple living on their decorated sailboat, moored at the Port Washington marina. Another couple was the guy who the Swiss came to and said, “We know how to make watches. You know how to market. We want to make a Swiss watch that’s almost disposable and call it a Swatch. What do you think?”

It was a Christmas that I always think back on so fondly. This year, this amaryllis was sent to me by Merry. Jose and I ate last years… Yup, that’s what I said. Merry sent some vitamins to me – she’s a licensed nutritionist – and I trust her with my life. She and her husband have a huge garden, and we had been talking about her garden, just before getting her next shipment of vitamins. Also in the box was what I thought was an odd looking onion from her garden. With no paperwork for it, I told Jose she had sent us an onion, and he dutifully put it into our stir-fry. With all due respect to Merry’s gardening, it wasn’t that good, so I picked at it.

Later, when she asked about the amaryllis, I said, “What? That was an amaryllis? We ate it.” She laughed, and asked me how it was doing. I said, “Merry, w-e   a-t-e   i-t. We literally ate it, thinking it was an onion!” It took a while for it to sink in, but once it did, it traveled around our family faster than any other family gossip ever had. Okay, so now I’m the laughing stock of the family, but am a bit redeemed with this year’s bulb, as I’ve nurtured it, and not once thought about eating it (nor will I for any, ever again).

Merry just sent this story to me, so I checked it out for accuracy, because it does tug at your heart strings and I don’t want to be the fool again… You know how these chain Emails go for the most part.

Here’s what I received… A most heartwarming Christmas story to be told to your bit older children, as you tuck them in at night, getting ready for Santa Clause coming down the chimney.

**True Story of Rudolph**

A man named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night.

His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob’s wife Evelyn was very sick and he knew she would die.

Little Barbara couldn’t understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad’s eyes and asked, “Why isn’t Mommy just like everybody else’s Mommy?” Bob’s jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger.

It had been the story of Bob’s life. Life always had to be different for Bob. Small in stature when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he’d rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in.

Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at MONTGOMERY WARD during the terrible Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn’s bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.

Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn’t buy a gift, he was determined a make one – and so he made a storybook! Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal’s story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope.

Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about?

The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, who had a big shiny nose. Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn’t end there……..

The general manager of Montgomery Ward heard about the little storybook and he offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and distribute it to the children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher asked to purchase the rights from Wards, to print an updated version of the book.

In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights of ownership back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter. But the story doesn’t end there either.

Bob’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of “White Christmas.”

The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again.

Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn’t so bad………. In fact, being different can really be a blessing.

The HERO of this story is BOB MAY.

The PATRIOT of this story is MONTGOMERY WARDS !!

The MORAL of this story is THE GIFT OF LOVE ………

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

4 Responses to “A Great Story About a Story ~ Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”

  1. Mike Duffy says:

    The GM at Montgomery Wards should be canonized! Despite the legalities involved, it was the right thing to do. I imagine today that he would be fired for making such an expensive decision, and the rights would still be in litigation.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    I agree, Mike, which is why I put this up on wine-blog.

    Copyrights are what they are, and permission is respectful and important, regardless… Happy holidays to you.

  3. Sondra says:

    Happy birthday Jo, belatedly – maybe Jo was supposed to by JOY, as you are, or HO HO HO.
    The amaryllis onion made me laugh out loud – very funny.

    Thank you for bringing delight and d’light to the blogosphere.

    Happy days.

  4. Jo Diaz says:

    Sondra, as you know, I’ve got the Ho, Ho, Jose. ;^)

    Thanks for the Birthday wishes.

    Amaryllis onion has now made me the laughing stock of my family, but they expect that from me, anyway.

    I’m pleased that you see me as a d’light to the the blogosphere. If I’ve turned on just one person, I’ve accomplished my goal, so thanks to you and Mike on this one for enjoying the larger message… Happy holidaze!

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