A Christmas Story

The troop ship carrying my father back from Europe docked in New York on 21 December, 1945, and my father had his travel orders to return to Tennessee in hand on the 23rd. He and another captain from Tennessee wired their wives and arranged to meet them at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville on the 24th. And then my father and his buddy found out that all the trains to Nashville were sold out until well after Christmas.

They went out on the street and flagged a cab. They told the cabbie where they wanted to go and why, and he agreed to take them if they’d pay for the gas both ways. During the trip, they talked with the driver, who was too old to have served, about what they had seen and done during the war. In my father’s case, that included the liberation of Dachau. When they arrived at the hotel late on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, my father started to pay the cabbie, but he refused payment. He told my father, “I’m Jewish. Thank you for what you’ve done. Have a Merry Christmas!”

The next year, my father received a Christmas card from the cab driver, and they continued to exchange Christmas cards for many years.