Many wonderful things started in New Jersey. One of them is the story in the holiday movie "It's a Wonderful Life." When I was in college my friends would get together and have a small Christmas Party the night the movie was airing on channel 13. Billy Joel's song "Only Human" was also inspired by the message in the movie. Through the lives we touch one person does have a big impact. No man is a failure if he has friends.
Philip Van Doren Stern grew up in Jersey City and graduated from Rutgers. He was an expert on Civil War history and the man who wrote a short story called "The Greatest Gift." During World War II he sent Christmas cards to about 200 friends that included the story. He wrote the story during the Great Depression but many attempts to get it published were rejected.
Three months after sending the Christmas Card with the story Van Doren was offered $10,000 for the rights to make a movie out of his story. The movie was released in 1947 and the rest is history. Many years after the movie became a classic Van Doren said the actual small town that inspired him was Califon, New Jersey in Hunterdon County. There's even a bridge in Califon that looks very much like the bridge in the movie.
So the next time you watch "It's a Wonderful Life" remember it all started in New Jersey. And if you haven't watched the movie you're really missing out.
Photo by Pixabay