Posted on Dec 4, 2014 in All Blog Posts, Children, Holidays and Celebrations

Even if a lady rarely received a handkerchief for a gift, come Christmastime, every mother, sister, daughter, aunt, mother-in-law, teacher, tutor, and favorite friend could count on Santa gracing her stocking with a beautiful embroidered hankie, or if she were really lucky, a boxed set of hankies under the tree.

 

rudolph_002 A full page ad in The Saturday Evening Post, December 5, 1953, features a wreath of Irish Linen handkerchiefs – embroidered, monogrammed, and more. They made the recipient feel like a lady, feminine and cherished.  (An ad on the reverse for the “Magnificent Magnavox high fidelity phonograph” was only 1/8th of a page!)

“The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value.”

Charles Dudley Warner

 

 

Christmas hankies ranged from giant poinsettia fashion handkerchiefs (yowsa!)

rudolph_004

.

to a child’s hankie adorned with a googly-eyed Santa

rudolph_006

I do this every holiday, so you should be primed by now, however  … QUICK! Name Santa’s eight reindeer.  No fair googling…..STOP! …. No googling!  (answer provided at the end)  Stop scrolling down!  We get so lazy with everything at our fingertips we sometimes fail to give our gray matter a work out.

And….. who is the most famous reindeer of all?

What did you say?

But he isn’t even on the team of eight.  So how and when did Rudolph get so famous?

We related Rudolph’s history  in Child’s Christmas Hankie but it bears repeating:

Clement Clark Moore wrote The Night Before Christmas in 1822, first published in December 1823.

 

rudolph_008 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, written by Robert May, was first published in 1939.Santa’s eight reindeer had been flying for 116 years before Rudolph ever appeared.  He was just a pup when he joined the team and become an overnight sensation.   The author’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, adapted May’s story of Rudolph into a song, which hit #1 on the U.S. charts during Christmas of 1949.  The record sold 2.5 million copies the first year, eventually selling 25 million copies, and it remained the second best-selling record of all time until the 1980s.   Take that, Mick Jagger! Not bad for a kiddie’s Christmas song – and there’s your tweet for the day. 🙂

 

As for “branding” the folks at Team Rudolph were right on top of things with records, stuffed toys, handkerchiefs and more. Yep, Rudy had his own Book o’ Hankies, complete with new verses added to the story.  Here you’ll find 5 of the 6 hankies.

 

rudolph_010 rudolph_012

 

With the hankies removed, we learn the tale of a very foggy night when Santa rouses Rudolph from a warm bed (who knew?) to light the way for his gift laden sleigh.  We also discover a Montgomery Ward price tag revealing this once $1.00 book had been reduced after Christmas to .67 cents. Sigh…….

rudolph_014

 

As the other deer skate merrily in pairs, outcast Rudolph tries his luck skidding along the ice with a pillow strapped to his backside. (Don’t ask. I have no idea…) That red lantern nose has him in tears.

rudolph_016

 

Answering Santa’s plea, Rudolph pens a quick goodbye to “Deer Mommy & Daddy” (in this instance, not a typo).  Meanwhile St. Nick rallies the troops from the mess hall. Love the green antlers.

rudolph_018 rudolph_020

 

Santa and Rudy peep through the window at a sleeping Ruthy Rabbit (uh, they have laws against that now) before a wobbly Santa knocks over all the dishes in the kitchen – shhhhhh! And trips on the rug. (Must be those googly eyes muddling up the works…)

rudolph_022 rudolph_024

 

I’ve always wondered about that missing sixth hankie, and I did find it, although only as an image on Pinterst.

rudolph_026

Not only does it have the Robert May copyright, we find the same Santa and green-antlered deer, as well as Rudy’s backward glance which can be seen on the reverse of the hankie folder.

rudolph_028

.

Just for Fun

Before you dismiss the importance of a kiddie song, consider the exposure it gave celebrity cowboy Gene Autry.  Featured as a “straight shooter who was honest, brave and true” this album cover can attest to his bravery – allowing nine antlered animals to run between his legs. Ouch! (just funnin’)

rudolph_030 rudolph_032

Autry went on to record “Frosty the Snowman” as well as write and record “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

Starting in 1928, right after Thanksgiving, Los Angeles merchants would turn a one mile stretch of Hollywood Blvd. into Santa Claus Lane to boost holiday shopping.  A daily parade featured Santa and a film star.  When Gene Autry rode his horse Champion in the parade in 1946, he was inspired to write the song “Here Comes Santa Claus…right down Santa Claus Lane.”

 

rudolph_034 Santa Claus Lane Check out those cars!  Parade Grand Marshalls have included Bob Hope,Jimmy Stewart, Charleton Heston, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Mickey Rooney, William Shatner, even Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

 

Autry worked as a telegrapher for the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, and used to sing and play the guitar to fill the lonely hours spent on the midnight shift. Although his hobby got him fired, humorist Will Rogers encouraged him to sing professionally, and eventually “Oklahoma’s Yodeling Cowboy” signed a contract with Columbia Records.  He went on to appear in 93 films, 91 episodes of The Gene Autry Show, own a television station, radio stations and a major league baseball team.  Although “Back in the Saddle Again” was his signature song, and he recorded over 600 songs, he is still fondly remembered for his Christmas tunes.

As Promised

The names of Santa’s reindeer – in musical format 🙂

 

Here Comes Santa Clause

7 Comments

  1. 12-30-2014

    Another great issue. You are amazing.

  2. 12-30-2014

    FYI Rudolph was written for Sears Roebuck & co. and was given away as an incentive of some sort. I did not know that May’s brother-in -law wrote the song. Sometime this week I will be listing a Child’s Chenille bathrobe with Rudolph on it. It is in practically mint condition. Hard to believe.There was a Rudolph shirt on ebay that went for over 200.00 I think I still may have one of the original Rudolph books around here, though lots of them did not survive. I look forward to seeing your blog.. Keep it up.

    • 12-30-2014

      Interesting. My research showed that Rudolph was created as a give-away holiday coloring book for Montgomery Ward, so I guess there are several stories floating around. Or should I say flying around. 🙂 Your Rudy bathrobe and shirt underscore the point about branding and line extension.

  3. 12-31-2014

    What a great issue. Who would have thought that Rudolph
    had hankies dedicated to him ? Thanks for the great info.

  4. 1-1-2015

    I believe M. Ward is correct. They bought the rights to use it. Years later when the story was wanted by a publishing company – M. Wards gave the rights back to May and he profited handsomely

  5. 1-1-2015

    This made me both laugh heartily (at your joke about antlered critters running between brave Autry’s legs) and cry (“Deer Mommy and Daddy, I’m helping Santa”–it’s so earnest and sweet!). Love this and all your posts!

  6. 1-2-2015

    I always treasure your eloquent stories! Thank you. And a very Happy New Year to you and yours!!!!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *