A Merry Little Christmas story

rainbow21

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About two decades ago, I asked my father who he was corresponding with. He told me the person was a famous songwriter that he had met in Europe in World War II. Famous?... Never heard of him (before my time). A few years ago, the correspondence and a couple of photos were passed on to me in a box with some of my father’s possessions.

Fast forward to two years ago. I was sitting in front of my computer on a holiday play along with Stu Fuchs. I looked at the music sheet for the next song and my eyes got wide! The songwriter was Hugh Martin for “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. Found the box and sure enough, it was he that my father was corresponding with in the early 2000s.

So back to 1944…

My father was part of Patton’s Third Army that was in Belgium to join/rescue/relieve the US Army at the Battle of the Bulge. Somehow, he encountered Hugh Martin and knew who he was. My father did have a camera and snapped a few photos of Hugh and some fellow GIs.

Apparently, Mr. Martin was on his way to the front when word reached the Morale Division (they have one?) that the writer of the number one song on the Hit Parade in the US was on base. So they pulled the writer of “The Trolley Song” (Clang. Clang, clang, went the trolley…) out of his unit that was going to the front lines and put him into a “soldier show”. Unfortunately (?), he then lost his voice and found himself in a hospital with nodules of the vocal cords for the remainder of the war.

These two songs were from “Meet Me in St. Louis”, released in 1944 as MGM’s most successful musical of the Forties. The songs were sung by Judy Garland. In 1957, Frank Sinatra recorded an updated (lyrics) version of this Christmas song.

So my father gave Hugh Martin permission to use the photo in his autobiography, promising to credit the photographer. Earlier this year, I tracked down the book (a good and fast read) and found the photo: “Photo credit: an army buddy” (lol)

Everyone, have yourself a merry little Christmas! (or however you celebrate the season)


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What a great story. It is special that your dad stayed in contact with Hugh All those years later. Thanks for telling the story rainbow 21 and a Merry Christmas to you and yours. 🎄
 
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