Some Awesome People

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The True Story of Rudolph

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

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 Chicagoslums. 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 DinahShore , 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. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like
his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad.
In fact, being different can be a blessing.

1 comment:

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