Rudy | Monkey Ward*

Author’s note. Rudy | The Unofficial Novella is comprised of notes found stuffed in a stainless steel shoe box that floated up from what used to be frozen tundra. There will be 25 posts. They are not in order, but will be when pigs fly. December 8 is dear to my heart, as I was an adman [ad woman just doesn’t cut it] for 35 years. Truth be told, advertising is the world’s oldest profession.

It was 1939. The drums of war were drowning out the songs of hope that Happy Days Are Here Again. The strong leader that Germans had wished for had turned out to be a nasty guy. In Chicago, a manager at Montgomery Ward needed a hook for the holidays. He asked Robert L. May, a copywriter, to write a children’s story.


May’s career did not match up to his writer’s dream – to pen the Great American Novel. Now, his boss wanted a product that would endear customers to the department store.

May submitted the draft. The boss reacted in typical creative vs. suits fashion: “Can’t you come up with something better?”

May wouldn’t give up. He got an art director to illustrate the draft and the rest is history – the history of how advertising shapes our world.

Rudolph’s story and song and cartoons are heart-warming additions to the US holidays.

Our Rudy will not be 100 years old in 2039. He reached that milestone before the invention of time.

*Monkey Ward is the now-defunct department store’s nickname.
Thanks to National Public Radio for the perfect link. Listen to the story, know more about May’s tragic life.


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