Thursday, January 9, 2014


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 dying of cancer 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 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 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 to make one - 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, with 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 caught wind of the little storybook and 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 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 wanted 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 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." 

Childhood memories now electronically preserved for Posterity
The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, 
that being different isn't so bad. 

In fact, being different can turn out be a blessing.     


  1. Hildergarde HammhockerJanuary 9, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    Don’t start getting silly! Please, Stick to being controversial thats why I come here.. Stick to your political beliefs.

  2. A real life story along the lines of "The Ugly Duckling" -- but much more poignant.

    And uplifting as well! I love this part:

    In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights 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.

    Thanks for posting this, FT. I knew part of the story, but not the poignant portions about May's wife and terrible plight resulting from medical bankruptcy.

    Good really can overcome evil!

  3. Thanks, AOW. You have seen "The Point," which Alas! poor Hildegarde missed.

    Hildegarde, I never post ANYTHING that is not in some way pertinent to our need to preserve, protect, defend and maintain our ideals.

    Failure to see that is the result either of mental laziness or opacity, I fear.

    Thinking is very hard work, but eminently worthwhile.

    The chauvinistic tossing about of canned slogans, stale talking points and spiteful invective -- i.e. accusatory rhetoric intended to insult, wound or deflate -- is not only a waste of time, it's a terrible bore, and decidedly destructive.

    Look behind and beyond the surface, and learn to find the significance which is surely there -- at least in items I choose to present.

    I, myself, always regarded Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as a silly, childish, irreligious bit of trivia indicative of the juvenile mindset of the popular culture -- yet-another piece of cynical commercialism calculated to exploit the masses.

    I was WRONG. After reading this story, which came to me through email from an old friend I've known since our days in elementary school, I realized Bob May's story not only gives hope to the downhearted, it poignantly affirms some of our most cherished, life-nourishing values.

  4. A wonderful story that I never knew. And yes it gives courage to those who feel different and marginalized.


    It reminded me of this story:

    Mr. and Mrs. Clements were visiting Moscow in the 1960s with, Rudolf, a Communist Russian, as their tour guide.

    Rudolf brought them to all the usual tourist attractions, when he abruptly told them they had to end their visits for the day because it was beginning to rain.

    "Ridiculous!" protested Mr. Clements, "that's not a reason to stop the visit. And besides, it isn't raining, we're just experiencing very heavy fog."

    "Nyet!" said Rudolf, "it's rain!"

    "Fog!" shouted Mr. Clements.

    At this point, Mrs. Clements, tired of listening to her husband's arguing, turned to him and said "Please stop this annoying argument. This isn't fog, and further, you should know that Rudolf, the Red, knows rain, Dear."

  5. Thanks for the chuckle. Aurore. Please visit often. No one enjoys a good pun more than I, despite having often quoted:

    "For every puny pun I shed I should be punished." (:-o

  6. Great story Free... as a child in So Cal, I grew up on the Gene Autry version of that song... he was pretty popular in that area, especially after he founded the California Angels baseball team.

    Aurore... nice...

    Hilde... and I say this wondering if I will pass the boilerplate level but why do you comment here? you've said elsewhere that you believe people who moderate comments are cowards.

    How is a blogger wanting to keep things civil and sane cowardly?

  7. Fine, Dave. you're rigt -- glad you stopped by.



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