Someone just sent me a version of this authentic writing story. I checked around online and found various corrections, truer accounts of the true. See below. I grew up with the Gene Autry version of the song (yes, and I once met Roy Rogers and Dale Evans; and Jay Silverheels, who played Tonto, was from the Six Nations Reserve a few miles from our farm).
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 a 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.
And here is the Urban Legends account.