Oh, no, not Rudolph again!
“Do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?” I do and did. It’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and he’s been haunting me for much of my life.
It was just weeks before Christmas 1949 when Gene Autry first twanged that tune and it took off like Santa’s reindeer – setting all sorts of records for the most popular tune ever. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing it.
That was all fine and dandy unless your name sounded anything like Rudolph, say Rudy or Rood. Then, suddenly, you became known as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (at least in the minds of many).
One of my favorite people back in those days was Rudy Anderson, our school janitor (custodian). He was a great older guy who had been blessed with a wonderful smile at birth and never forgot to wear it. With a few extra pounds and a long white beard, he could have easily passed for Santa.
I was a fourth-grader who didn’t have a lot going for me except that I had been gifted with the last name of Rood (pronounced Rude).
Rudy and I both became known as Rudolph by nearly everyone at school. It was a sort of kinship neither of us had ever seen coming.
I think the fad of calling us Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer lasted no more than a school year but it seemed forever to me. As the song slowly went into remission, so did the name-calling. It was not until the mid-1960s, when the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer cartoon was first introduced, that I started being called Rudolph once more. It was one of those events from the past that I hadn’t missed one bit.
The trouble is, the cartoon keeps popping up every December. I guess it’s considered a classic, and generation after generation of younger folks think of it as part of Christmas. For years I’ve expected its popularity to die off, but it seems to be a never-ending tradition.
That is until this year. Seems some of our more politically correct folks have found the cartoon “seriously problematic.” They see it as a story laced with “racism and homophobia.” They even called Santa “abusive and bigoted.” They find Santa’s workshop in need of “diversity and inclusion training.”
Rudolph’s father is chastised for being verbally abusive and forcing a false nose on Rudolph. The fact that Rudolph’s mother wasn’t allowed to help search for him is considered sexist.
Well, I definitely didn’t see all this coming. Gee, for 70 years I didn’t like being called Rudolph. Now I’m kind of proud of it! Go Rudolph!!
Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times.