Christmas in a Boxcar

OK, prompted by Trinity Waters’s post about Patton’s 1944 Christmas message to the troops, I feel like telling my father’s story of that Christmas in a boxcar.
I don’t believe my father got to hear Patton’s message. He was captured in the Battle of the Bulge. They were marched and then loaded in boxcars. For some days they had been parked on a siding.
They were crowded fifty men in a small cold boxcar, taking turns at one tiny window. They had not eaten in a week. When it was his turn at the window late Christmas morning, he decided to thumb his nose at adversity and treat the group to a day’s menu at the small-town hotel where he had been desk clerk through college. He recited the menu from memory.
When he finished, someone said from the far corner, “Where did you say that hotel was?” And it turned out the man had stayed there. Dad got a better look at him and said, “ I can’t remember your name but you stayed in room 214 with another student from your university- you dated his sister, a student at the nearby women’s college, and were there for a formal dance. And…you borrowed my tuxedo!”
Christmas 1944. My Dad would be 100 now (yes he was VERY OLD when I was born) and the events and the culture of his times are fading into history. That happened 75 years ago, and he retold it many times-he was a good story teller. Circa 1975 my mother whispered to me that she lacked the nerve to remind my father that at one time he would roll his eyes at WWI veterans’ stories and say “Don’t they know it was 25 years ago?”