In case you’ve missed it, Christmas is around the corner. Now Amador is famous for a number of things, and we’ve managed to even capture a few, from time to time, in our little newspaper. I’ll be the first to admit this year snuck up on me a bit. Holidays can be tough times for many. It’s been a bit tough on me, this year.

Thank goodness for the magic of Cedric Clute, who brought back to life the CBS Radio Network and the Elgin Watch Network Christmas Party of 1944. You see that was the year a small town Publisher, Babe Garbarini, in the county of Amador published a Christmas Letter to G.I. Joe from Arthur Robinson.

That letter found its way to the head of the Elgin Watch Company, that was so impressed with the letter and what it expressed, that he asked Don Ameche to read the letter on the air. And so it was, that that year, millions of folks, soldiers, workers, families, men and women from around the United States, got a little taste of Amador County.

All these years later, the sentiment and the letter hold their place and purpose, now more than ever. A beacon to those that won’t be home and are serving our country. So, to the men and women of the Armed Forces, their families and friends, it is with great pleasure we bring you A Christmas Letter to G.I. Joe, transcribed from the archives, and read by Don Ameche.

Tales of Christmas Past — Christmas Letter to G.I. Joe (1944)

From the towns and townships and yet sparser settlements of the five road districts of our county, more than 600 of our lads out of a total population of only 6,000 have gone off to war. We are drawn together in an intimate countrywide way of life.

A telegram from the War Department to the parents of one of our boys becomes, in a sense, a telegram to all of us. In a happier sense, the following letter, although addressed to a fellow named Joe, is for all our kids who are putting their lives on the line for us.

“Dear Joe:

It was October when this was written. And now, where you are, it’s Christmas. Merry Christmas, Joe. Merry Christmas. That was the whole county talking, Joe, not just one person. But there’s more to the county than your family and all your friends. 

There’s old Butte squinting down on the lesser mountains, as if he was natures own Top Sergeant. Old Butte says Merry Christmas too. All the way from Kit Carson Pass to Mokelumne Hill the creeks are rising. Sutter Creek, Indian Creek, Deadman Flat where the trout were plenty.

There just isn’t any sweeter music than the sounds the old Baptists make. And it’s a Christmas Carol they’re singing for you, Joe, in October. You get the point. You’ve got a lot of pals here and they’ve all got voices. Individually, and conglomerately. 

It’s queer writing a letter like this in October. It will move through space and time. And when you get it, time will have meaning and still have the directions. But Christmas Eve, the confusions of space and time will cease absolutely. We shall all face the East, you where you are, and we here. And we shall watch and wait for the first star to shine through the dusk. And in the miraculous moment of its appearance we shall all be together again. 

Joe, Merry Christmas.

Okay this letter starts moving, and its November 19th.

Exactly 81 years ago today, a tall, gaunt, bearded man, sorrow struck, and infinitely compassionate, stood on a hill in a little town in Pennsylvania — made a two-minute speech.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they, who fought here, have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us, to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us.

Do you feel bitter enough about it today, Joe, to say that generation after generation has let Lincoln down. Okay.

Then, this letter moves on and on, and it’s Thanksgiving. Of course, we’ve got much to be thankful for.

War makes you realize that this country was hard born. And you think of other fellows who went to war and fought at Valley Forge and at Gettysburg and maybe in the last war. And all the time, strangely, the country becomes a better place to live in. And after this war, it will be better than ever.

A country in which nobody takes advantage of anybody. And everybody has a decent standard of living. Doesn’t that just about say everything.

Christmas has got to be more than a pleasantly vague feeling. Christmases must mean specific things in terms of the man whose birthday we celebrate.

So, now it’s Chirstmas where you are, and our minds give way to our hearts. Your facing the East waiting for the first star to appear in the sky. And so are we. There it is, Joe. There it is. Every one of us is thinking about you at this instant.

Merry Christmas, Joe. And God keep you, and bless you.”