Memorial Message Board
Remembrances, comments and thoughts
about Jean Shepherd, his life and his work.
All submitted by his friends and fans.
Edited by Jim Sadur
The response to my call for Shep tributes and memories has been fantastic!
So much so that in 24 hours, a second volume is needed to post the new responses.
Here are today's contributions.
Thanks to everyone who sent these outsanding tributes to Shep!
Add your memories about Shep
Volumes 1 2 3 4 5 6
Subject: In memory of Jean Shepherd
I was deeply saddened upon awakening sunday morning and my parents
showing me the obituary for Jean Shepherd. It was sad news because Jean
Shepherd brings back memories of when I was a kid growing up in
Brooklyn, and later when I was a high school student in Westchester
County. Throughout my high school years, 10th thru 12th grade I used to
look forward to hearing Jean Shepherd on the airwaves, and often I used
to daydream and think about some of the stories he told on the AM radio
the night before, when I was supposed to be listening to the teacher.
The first few times I remember hearing Jean Shepherd was when I was a
youngster, well under ten years of age, living in Brooklyn, hearing his
voice over the portable AM radio in the kitchen. Even though I did not
know who he was, there was something about that voice, something that
would capture your attention. He had the kind of voice that made you
want to listen.
Jean Shepherd was also in part an inspiration for me to get my amateur
(ham) radio license. I used to hear him talk about it and always found
his discussions of ham radio to be interesting and inspiring. matter of
fact he does a verbal introduction on one of the commercial morse code
practice tapes which I used to study for my license. No doubt, Jean
Shepherd will be missed by the members of the amateur radio community.
jean Shepherds amateur radio call sign was K2ORS and his QTH (location)
was Sanibel Florida.
Men don't live forever and in that sense Jean Shepherd was not
immortal. Yet all all other ways he is quite immortal because he will
live on forever, through the memories that people like myself have of
his great work, as well as all the recordings, tapes, etc. of his great
radio career. It is also great that there are radio stations like WBAI
which has such great shows like Mass Backwards, which helps keep Jean
Shepherd alive by continuing to play recordings of his live shows and
broadcasts. Jean Shepherd was unique. He cannot be replaced. It was his
unique character that made him so interesting, so powerful, so
entertaining to so many people. It is the reason that Jean Shepherd
shall live on forever.
What do I remember about Jean Shepherd?
I remember hearing him at C. W. Post College. I remember him leading an
audience in a rousing rendition of the bear missed the train.
the bear missed the train.
The bear missed the train.
The bear missed the train.
and now he's walking...
I remember his nightly shows on WOR. He'd start talking about one subject and
would be so fascinating it would be a while before you noticed he was now
miles from where he started. And just when you'd start to notice and would
wonder what the two had in common, he'd come around full circle and. land
just as his music would come up and his monolog would always make perfect
I'd remember his stories and books, funniest books I ever read. I can still
see in my mind, the picture of all those gravy boats hurled from the audience
at the Opheum theater in a movie promotion gone horribly wrong.
Without Jean Shepherd would there have been a "news from Lake Wobegone"?
Thanks for all the laughs and thoughts, Shep
The first thing I heard this morning when I woke up was the sad news of
Shep's passing. Talk about having a bad day. I was depressed all day. But I
guess Shep would say that his was worse! I hope it wasn't.
Like many others here, in the late 60's I listened to him under the covers.
Why did we do that?
I'll never forget one night when he said:
"You can take Salem out of the country, but you can't take Good Humor out of
I laughed so hard I woke up the rest of my family.
I saw him live just once at Wagner College on Staten Island, NJ. I'll never
forget it. How he held the audience with every word. Great, great show. Is
there anyone out there today that could do a show like what Shep did? I
don't think so.
From time to time, I'm called upon to speak to the congregation of our
church, for stewardship concerns. I always try put a little humor into my
talks and I always have Shep in the back of my mind.
Thanks to Jim for the opportunity to share some important memories.
When I heard of Jean's passing, I told my wife that another one of the
good ones is gone. Whenever we need a pick-me-up, we pop in one of his
tapes and lose ourselves in Jean's World. What a great place to be
"lost" in. Of course "The Christmas Story" is the classic favorite, but
it's sequel, "It Runs In The Family," is equally enjoyable, as is "Ollie
Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss." We'd just like to say thanks very much
Jean, and don't keep God laughing too long, He's a busy man you know.
Ed & Doris
Treasure Island, FL
I recall JR. high school and highschool in New Jersey, 1968 through 1973 and
listening to Shep on WOR. Transistor radio under my pillow, the familiar energetic theme
music and joining him in another adventure in Hohman, or the Army, or perhaps a recital of
some Robert Service poetry. Going into homeroom the next day and discussing with a couple
of fellow listener friends about the program the night before....asking "did you
catch Shep last night"?
I was driving home the night the news announced his passing, and tears filled my eyes. It was so nice to fine this site on the Web and have an opportunity to remember , learn about and enjoy the wonderful and unique talent of Jean Shepard.
I have three of his books, one of which he signed for me when I attended a concert at Drew University about 1974. I feel privileged to have been a listener. He had a wonderful way of making his experiences- your experiences.
As a graduate of Whiting High school (OILERS)......He talked about us in
his story " The Star Crossed Romance Of Josephine Cosnowski"
And growing up and still living in Northwest Indiana. I know that even
though He has left this Earth. He is still alive a well in Nortwest Indiana.
May We never forget the great ones!
From time to time, over the years, I've tried to explain Jean Shepherd
to people who never heard his radio broadcasts. He meant so much to me
as a kid, and had such an influence in shaping my attitudes and
interests, that I felt that Shepherd was a part of my personal biography
that had to be shared with people that I care about. Otherwise they
couldn't really know me. I'm sure I was never very successful with my
explanations. People would nod and smile, but I could tell that they
weren't getting it. And in fact, how could you ever really explain Jean
Shepherd to someone? "Well, he would talk on the radio, you know? And
he'd tell these great stories from his youth. And they'd be woven
together with his personal philosophy of life. But sometimes he'd just
play the kazoo and sing 'That's My Weakness Now' for most of his show.
He was great!"
It doesn't really explain very much, does it? Nor did the obituary in
today's paper. The guy they described sounded kind of interesting, but
it wasn't Jean Shepherd.
Fortunately, those of you reading this now don't need explanations.
I won't bore you with my favorite memories of Shepherd. In the end,
they're no different from yours. But I hate finding out that Shep is
mortal, just like the rest of us. I guess I aways preferred thinking he
was too hip to die.
San Rafael, California
For a ten year-old kid living in the attic with a bed and a radio,
Jean Shepherd served as my eyes and ears to the outside world. I had
not yet been outside New York or New Jersey, but through Shep's words I visited
Comiskey Park (where his old man heckled Lou Gehrig), the Orpheum Theatre (where
Doppler was showered with gravy boats), Cedar Lake, the first lake to be condemned,
and the "detergent-filled" waters of Lake Michigan, among other sites that
served as settings for what he had to say. His image of summer descending on
Indiana "like a 300-pound lady onto a picnic bench in July" is one I have not
been able to shake for almost thirty years.
"What he had to say" is so woefully inadequate for what Jean Shepherd meant to my life. He painted an ongoing picture of a world that while exciting and vibrant was anything but neat and perfect. At least once a week I recall the story of the family that had the pre-fab house delivered by train from Sears, only to have the pieces scattered over a half-mile radiius by neighbors who opened boxes and then ran for home when it began to rain.
His army stories remain with me today because he chose to depict people trying to do the best they could in situations that never gave them a chance. When Zudock missed the army transport train because he had gone to town to buy beer, the sarge's advice is to "never say a word about this, I'll take care of everything." When Shep said, "No one ever mentioned Zudock's name again," I felt as though I were peeking into a secret world that no one else was telling me existed.
After listening to so many years of Shep's dating stories, I felt free to approach the same arena with enthusiasm, if not for the love of a woman then for absolutely miserable stories to tell my friends. How bad can a date be when you know of someone who drank a Coke bottle full of bugs on the most important date in his life? Shep also provided me with the scouting report on dating that conversation invariably lags and that one should be prepared with material, as Shep was not one night when he filled the silence by talking about his Uncle Carl losing his false teeth down an airshaft.
Above all, though, steeped in Shep's work was a basic curiosity about living, combined with his joy to be part of it all. The message he conveyed to me from the time I was ten until I was nineteen, whether he spoke of hot air balloons, Rodin, blast furnaces, Bing Crosby, Route 22, ham radios, M-80s, jazz clubs, or Boccaccio, was that I should take the time to learn about these things.
I was fortunate enough to have seen Shep perform both at Carnegie Hall in the '70's and many times over the years at the Princeton shows. At the later concerts, with the radio show having been off the air for nearly twenty years, I would eavesdrop outside on his fans trying to describe to their guests who had not been Shep listeners the years of Flick and Schwartz, of "sooner or later you'll own General," of earphones in the transistor radio, and of our unseen club of subversives. They struggled as much as I have in trying to describe why Jean Shepherd was so important, although I nodded to let them know that I understood.
Finally, while we can mourn Shep, we should also be happy that the state of radio during his career allowed him to enter our lives. Today's media would have made him shout to be heard over the din. While insightful people often find their voices, it is doubtful that radio would have provided him with the same forum and the same easy path that led to all of us.
I'd just finished listening to a couple of Shep's tapes from the early
60's Saturday evening when I turned on the radio to get the baseball
scores and instead learned of his passing. I don't have the words to
described how I felt and the emotions that went through me. My fondest
recollections from my teen-age years and early 20's are of listening to
Shep on the radio. He was a genius. And can you imagine the stories
he'll be able to tell of his adventures in heaven?!
For whatever reasons, Shep chose in his later years to follow the advice
of his hero, George Ade, and "avoid crowds" but the memories of that
matchless voice and the images that he could conjure up on the canvas of my
imagination still remain fresh. Setting my reel-to-reel recorder to preserve
WGBH's FM signal became a regular nightly ritual (I was an early riser).
Then the following day would come the opportunity to play it back and often
laugh myself silly while hearing Shep read from his own writings or use a
news story about a Brit whose house was resting on top of a 1,000 foot deep
mine shaft as a launching site for tales about the dangers lurking in the
earth beneath us. His creativity was staggering and his taste in music
ecclectic (where else could you hear Strauss, Stockhausen (?), Antheil and
"The Bear Missed The Train"?). With his passing, we not only mourn the loss
of a unique friend but also something of ourselves.
May his memory always be a blessing.
I feel a great loss at the passing of Jean Shepherd. His death saddens me but
I wasn't exactly suprised. Periodically I remember this man I idolized,
especially in my teens. Saturday was one of those times. It is with a start I
sometimes think maybe he is gone and I somehow missed the news. Discovering
the news today was sobering to me. I have many memories of him, most from way
before "A Christmas Story". From book signings, to talking to him briefly at
a Grenwich Village sportscar rally,and my proudest moment when he briefly
read a little of a letter I sent him on the air. I mostly remember all those
nights listening to him in bed and getting lost in his world of reminesence.I
valued his perspective on cultural and societal happenings. I remember after
the Kennedy assasination listening to him and finding comfort in his familiar
voice and shared realization of the momentous nature of this time. There are
still times I wish I could have his take on many things happening today. I am
grateful to have had my life touched by his if only by those late night radio
waves emanating from WOR all those years. Shepherd, know you are missed.
To my endless regret I was only lucky enough to catch Shep toward the end of
his WOR years. I used to rush home from Junior High to catch Bob and Ray,
have dinner, check out Mystery Theatre and then settle in for Shep, just
I had his books to tide me over for the years until 'Christmas Story' came
out (and I will be forever grateful that this gem has supplanted 'It's A
Wonderful Life).The feeling I get when I hear him tell a story is unique.
The mixture of humor, nostalgia for being a kid, with just the smallest
bittersweet underpinning; he really was one of the great modern
Hopefully someone will see fit to anthologize and reissue his uncollected
writings (maybe transcribe some monologues?).
A true American original, who is SORELY missed.
South River, NJ
I met Jean in the late 70's when he made an appearance at the radio
station where I work in Chicago. I told him how I used to love his WOR
shows and how I liked whenever it became time to do the half-hour ID he
would work the ID in with whatever he was talking about at the time. For
example he'd be talking about one of the old cars he owned when he was
younger and say
"That car was a real wreck. Speaking of real wrecks, This is WOR, AM &
FM, your RKO-General stations in New York."
He then told me, "You know, I always felt they left the letter "H" out
I also enjoyed his irreverence in doing commercials. He was sponsored by
Buick once,and their slogan which he read was "Wouldn't you really
rather have a Buick." He would then stop and say "Of course not, you'd
rather have a Mercedes, or maybe a Jaguar but on the money you make, a
Buick really isn't all that bad."
May he rest in peace.
Jean Shepherd and Tom Paxton deserve lines on the dedication page of my M.A.
thesis, completed at the University of Washington in 1969. With vastly
different talents, they were both keen observers and storytellers of the
Sixties scene. Both came over the late-night air waves of KRAB-FM, which
Shep described as "an angry little radio station" ceaselessly griping under
the perpetual cloud cover of the Pacific Northwest. The leftist dissident
station also promised that if I just sent them enough money (of which I had
none then), they would end the Vietnam war.
I remember Shep providing much-needed relief from my attempts at erudition
about cognitive complexity with a piece about aviation daredevil Lincoln
Beachy. He lionized the barnstormer for flying his biplane through the mist
of Niagara Falls and under the arch of Honeymoon Bridge, for inventing the
loop-to-loop, and for ending his life in a nose-dive into San Francisco Bay
That piece picked up on Shepherd's experience as a light airplane pilot.
And had the most hilarious account of Shep awaiting clearance for takeoff
and watching a seagull attempting -- unsuccessfully -- a downwind takeoff.
Here's to Shep!
I was truly sorry to hear of Jean Shepherd's death. I have been a fan
since the early 60's on WOR radio. He also did a short-lived interview show
in the 60's, "The Dissenters", on channel 10 here in Philadelphia.
I hope PBS will honor him by showing his several PBS specials like "Ollie
Hopnoodle" and "The 4th of July & Other Disasters", etc. A marathon would
We'll miss you Shep.
Ridley Park, PA
Suddenly Shep's a Silent Key. What a downer.
A good friend, who also passed away, turned me onto Shep. Like Bob, I
became a "Shepherd cuckoo" until I went into the Army. There are so many of
his stories I would love to hear again - Patty Remalee and the red corduroy
cap; sitting by the Penobscot River in Maine, eating a Syrian Dagwood with a
beer; and the great tale about doing KP on the Army train down South. The
guys were sitting in their BVD's on the back of the mess car when the train
stopped at a town.
One guy said, "Gees, I'd love a cold beer." A guy goes into town, buys
some brew and before he can get back to the train it starts pulling away. He
runs faster and faster but the train pulls away from him and then Shep says,
"Somewhere, even now, there is a guy running along the track in his BVD's,
with a six-pack of beer, yelling - "Hey, wait for me!"
One of Shep's obits said there were no survivors. Not true. Each of us
who were fortunate enough to listen to him or read his words, survives him.
His legacy is his followers, his fans, anyone who enjoys his unique humor.
There are few who can rightfully be called "genius". Shep is among
that elite group. He ranks among Bob and Ray, Ernie Kovacs, Steve Allen,
Jonathan Winters, Sid Caesar, Groucho, Paul Rymer and a bunch more who had a
unique insight to the realm of human foibles. There's was and is the ability
to make us laugh at human nuttiness - ours and everyone else's.
There's nothing to say except, Shep, you were great, man. Thanks for
the insanity; we needed it. We miss you, my friend. We'll watch our knees
and maybe, every so often, we'll open our windows and yell at the top of our
lungs "I'm not going to take it anymore!". Or, perhaps, we'll put a speaker
on the windowsill at 2 AM and play several minutes of train sounds - at full
Fatheads of the world, unite! Up with Slob Art! Up with Slob Food!
I cried when I heard the news that Jean was gone. He had a
impact on my life, as fan and as an author. When I was a kid in New Jersey
my "old man" and I had a ritual of sitting up in the evening and listening
to Shep on WOR. I well remember sipping Iron City beer with Dad, (he'd
pour me a four ounce glass) and we'd laugh together at Shep's tales. I
always saw him as a humorist who spoke to working class and middle America.
Years passed, I sold my first novel and though I write primarily in the
field of Science Fiction and History, still Shep's irreverant twist affects
my style. Now here is the personal side of the story. I lived in Maine,
had a house on Snow Pond and noticed that Jean had copyrighted a work under
the name "Snow Pond Productions." That started a quest and a couple of
days later I discovered that Jean was a neighbor who lived down on the point
a quarter mile away. Finally, I saw a car parked at the house and went to
visit, bearing my first book as a present and all his works for autographs.
It was a delightful afternoon I'll never forget. We sat on the deck,
drinking a beer, that distinctive voice, which I had listened to for years
talking to me in a serious mentoring manner about the business of writing.
The advice he gave about writing from the heart, listening to your audience,
learning to laugh at yourself has stuck with me.
That was thirty books ago for me. It's funny now, how so often I'll get an
email, a phone call, or even an univited drop over of a fan (the way Jean
did with me). Remembering him I always take the time to sit, smile and
When I heard the news yesterday of his passing I had that momentary
tightness in my gut, the "oh no. . ." sigh, and yes some tears. The world
seems a bit darker without that laughing sardonic wit. My personal regret
is that of late I had thought to write to him. I did not see him again
after our conversation on the deck. I moved on, as did he. Maine was a
place for him to unwind, not a place to be pursued by fans and I respected
that. But lately I wanted to write him, and to offer my thanks, both for
the nights of drinking Iron City beer with my Old Man, and for the writing.
It meant a lot to me then, it still does, it always will.
I guess this is now that letter.
So long Jean and thanks.
I remember listening to Jean Shepard from 10:15 to 11 on WOR, growing up on
Long Island he was the first true voice of an alternative vision to the
conformity and listlessness of suburbia. We would listen to him at night, my
brother Martin, my mom and I, laughing and shussing each other. He was the
bridge between the radio and television, original thinker and a true
humorist, looking at the world around him and not taking it seriously at
all, laughing at himself and at the fate of man. I will miss him.
I can honestly say that growing up as pimply-faced kid in Jersey in the
'60's, Shep was the most influential person in my life, for better or
worse. My two fondest memories are
(1) hearing Shep at an appearance at a local college with some friends. We sat in the back, hurling
good-natured invectives, such as "Excelsior, you fathead", and the great
Shep just played along, actually recognizing a bunch of fifteen year olds.
(2) In 1964, I wrote Shep a long letter based on my observations after a
visit to the NY Worlds Fair, written in what I thought was a Shep style,
focusing on the various slob behavior I observed. Imagine my excitement
when he devoted an entire show one night on WOR to my letter . I
remember running to tell my family, and rushing to set up the
reel-to-reel tape recorder. I cherished the tape for years, but somehow
it got misplaced .
I am happy to say that every Christmas my two kids make a point of
watching "A Christmas Story". This year I'm sure we'll crank it up
I too am saddened by the loss of Jean. And it is indeed our loss for this
man could make you laugh in the most outrageous way.
I feel I've been running into Jean memories for years and finding others who
have known his humorous anecdotes about Hammond IND.
During the 60s, I first heard Jean when he did the WOR radio shows when we
lived in NJ. He sure made my nights of painting wooden storm windows and
screens go faster (we had a 27 window house with three doors that required
uncountable repainting every year or so). My husband and I would get
laughing so hard we'd be dropping paint all over the basement! Years went
by and during a goodwill book sale in DC, I found the Wanda Hickey book and
In God We Trust ... and I was really happy to see that Jean's Christmas
movie made the big time (followed by the Summer Story). I found this
website and also found out that Jean had lived in the Clinton NJ area for a
time--how strange only miles away from our families! 2 Christmas's ago, I
received a collection of Jean's audio tapes and was again laughing the night
Remember how Jean talked about the hated red cabbage? Well every year when
I make it I vowed to send him a jar to rile him up...but never did.
I sure hope PBS does some kinda tribute to him--after all, he did contribute
to a lot of their success. How about a JEAN SHEPHERD week???
While he was alive, there was always hope... Hope that he'd throw off the cloak
once more, publish one more book, write one more movie, make a final triumphal return to
Carnegie Hall. Unlikely as those scenarios might have been, his continued existence
kept hope alive. Now, I'm reminded of the obits when Chico Marx died, and took with
him the hope of squeezing out one last Marx Bros. movie. "Alas, poor
Chico!" one columnist wrote, "Alas, poor all of us." But an artist leaves
the world created behind. We can still visit Runyon's Broadway, still spy on
Wodehouse's Blandings Castle and the Drones Club, and Hohman, Indiana still sits lumpily
in a grey haze ready to disappoint and humiliate its improbably optimistic inhabitants.
I'm fascinated by dead media-- silent films, creative radio. How interesting that
radio had its greatest period of originality in the 50's, when the world's attention had
been shifted away to television. Thence sprung up Bob & Ray, Stan Freberg, The
Goon Show (in Britain) and Shep. I am sorry Shep was bitter about radio, but the
artist doesn't get to judge his own work; that is for posterity. His work in other
media is laudable, praiseworthy, mostly first-rate. But his work was in radio was
miraculous, and he left the medium in better shape than he found it. Several writers have
complained about the rip-off quality of "The Wonder Years." But another
subject of bitterness for Shep was the extraordinary success of Garrison Keillor and Lake
Wobegone. During Keillor's early prominence in the late 70's, Shep was happy to
speak about Keillor as a worthy successor. But when praise for Keillor went over the
moon and his indifferently assembled first novel (similar in structure to IGWTAAPC, but
not nearly as funny) hit the best-sellers list, Shep refused to discuss Keillor anymore.
Keillor made a famous visit East in the early 70's as a free-lancer for The New Yorker when he says he got the idea for a radio show like The Grand Ole Opry. But the Opry doesn't have long monologues about mythical mid-Western hometowns. Is it possible Keillor had another inspiration he hasn't acknowledged yet?
Anyway, as John O'Hara said about George Gershwin, they tell me he's dead, but I don't have to believe it if I don't want to.
Shep is dead. Long live Shep!
I can still see Jean Shepherd standing in that Alaskan stream saying, "If
only my ol' man could see me now."
I lived in Calumet City IL just 2 blocks from Hammond IN. I worked with someone who went to school with Shep. Hammond High School, Cedar Lake and the steelmills were broght back to me when I watched and listened to his stories.
Thank you for the opportunity to express my feeling and sorrow at his passing.
I had the privilege of listening to Shep during my teenage years and
like many of those whose comments I've read, I realized this was
something special. He drew me in and left me not only with indelible
memories flights over the Sahara desert, hilarious army stories,
insightful obersvations about modern culture. He left me with a career.
Listening to Shep gave me the radio bug. How could some guy in a radio
studio betalking to me, right to me, just me. I experienced a
McCluhanesque epiphany and began a life-long admiration for the medium
that could allow Shep to crawl right inside my head. More than 25 years
at it and I still hold that reverance for radio. Myself and not a few of
my colleagues who know Shep's work feel likewise.
Not that Shep ever did. I remember Shep's addressing a conference on
the 'Art of Radio' back in the '70's. I was awestruck at having the
opportunity to share thoughts on the medium we shared. As I recall,
Shep was pretty devasting towards radio, scoffing our pretentions and
reminding us that ideas are what's important not the mode of espression.
One of my greatest experiences in the field was editing a soliliquy Shep
had recorded after a storm had passed of Sanibel. He's gone out to his
back yard, rich with chirps and belches of various wildlife and vamped
for about ten minutes on a tape. I shortened the spot with loving
care, remembering the years of bedtime listening I'd enjoyed, to about
four minutes. Shep's wife Leigh called after the tape was broadcast and
said Shep like it. I never felt prouder.
He was a giant. We will miss him.
I hope somebody in heaven has the good sense to light the fuse on a dago
bomb in a welcoming tribute to the old guy.
And speaking of tributes, those of us to whom the Shep persona meant so
much --even to those like me who never got to engage him at length in
conversation-- really ought to think about organizing one in NY.
Finally, to those who lament that the story ends here, think again. Flick
Lives as long as we do, for as much as Shep's legacy is his body of work, it
is also includes the legion of fans he leaves behind. Whether meaning to or
not, we have incorporated his speech patterns, his sense of humor, his
stories, his sensibilities, and his unique world view into our own psyches.
Ollie Hopnoodle and Schwartz and Zudock and Andy the Bohunk and the Jersey
Devil and the pathos of the Whitesox fan and the x-lax eating contest and
the gravy boat riot (with its serious undertones of social commentary on the
Depression) will likely stay with us for as long as we are able to think.
My little son, in fact, is going to know who Jean Shepherd was. And I have
to assume that even a practiced curmudgeon like Shep would take some comfort
Charles J. Sanders
New York City
In "The Clown" a recording Jean made with Charlie Mingus in the fifties,
he told the tale of "Happy guy who had all these colors inside him" and
all he wanted to do was make people laugh. In a way that was Jean
himself. And the irony of "The Clown" was that it was not until he died
that all the "really big" offers started coming in. The Ed Sullivan
After years of being ignored and ripped off by the Big Media maybe now a
true American genius will get his due.
Until then, in the words of the master: "Keep your knees loose, and your
duff close to the ground."
John M. Whalen
I listened to Jean Shepard on WOR way back when I was a kid
School here in New Jersey. His stories were of another time, and another
place, but something in them hit me at that time. I still remember many of
them. I remember his kazoo playing! I remember his characters, told by Jean
like they were really alive. For me, they were..................
I still own a dog-eared paperback copy of his book "In God We Trust, All
Others Pay Cash" which I had bought way back in 1967. It sits on my bookcase
next to his other books and a VHS copy of "The Christmas Story". I will
treasure them always. I am sorry to hear of Jean's death.
Well done, Shepherd
Jean Shepherd, who died last week at age 78, was equal parts Mark Twain,
Garrison Keillor (although, technically, Keillor was part him) and little
kid with a B-B gun. As a radio and later TV humorist, he sang the comic song
of the common man with uncanny insight and skill, as well as genuine warmth
and affection. He was a master media craftsman. But Shepherd was also that
little boy perched in a tree, taking riotous aim at pretensions while
hitting with deadly and grab-your-sides-funny accuracy the heart of middle
America . His targets included first loves, tough jobs, noisy neighbors and
good friends. His radio show on WOR in New York and later rebroadcast on
noncommercial radio drew a legion of loyal fans, including teenagers who
would voluntarily go to bed at 10 p.m. to listen to the radio. Whether it
was recounting a trip to the fair, a tongue frozen to a lightpole or a riot
on "Dish Night" at the local theater, Shepherd's voice could put more drama
in a radio broadcast than a cast of thousands with a roomful of props. And
then there was that fiendishly gleeful laugh that let us know he was having
as much fun talking as we were listening. We join with Schwartz, Flick and
those raucus Bumpus hounds in paying (in the last case, baying) tribute to a
true radio original. He will be deeply missed.
It is a sad time. I grew up and still live in Hammond and his potrayals
the time and places are right on target. I remember looking at the window of
Goldblatts Department store as a kid and the Christmas parades. Everytime I
read one of Mr. Shepherds pieces or watch Christmas Story for the hundreth
time I am reminded of a better time when the laughter was in the every day
comedy we call life. He was a treasure not for just this town but for the
entire country. He will be missed.
An important part of my youth is now gone. He was the greatest. May he rest
One of the wonderful things my Wife and I remember about Shep was his call
to gather in NYC on the site of the burned out Wanamaker Department
Store..all come and say:
One of the things that impressed me greatly was Shep's talk of the Indiana
Steel mills..I worked for US Steel and he was so accurate and graphic.
Long live your memory Shep!
John C. Nichols
Fair Lawn NJ
I spent too many nights glued to the radio listening to his every word on
WOR-AM. I should have slept more during high school, but Shep had me enthralled.
I loved him...
My all time favorite is from "In God We Trust..." it is reprised as an episode in "A Christmas Story."
Ralph's Mom has sent Randy out into the Indiana winter dressed for polar exploration. The description of Randy's immobility has me in tears of laughter every time I read (or see) it.
The story of Flick frozen to the flag pole is a Shep classic.
...and I can still "see" Shep's mother in the kitchen at the sink in her rump-sprung chenille bathrobe.
I think I keep the stories close to my heart because they are so close to home. Vincent Canby's line (from his review of "A Christmas Story") is "...[Shep] transforms small stories of every-day life into tall stories of fantastic adventure."
With Love for Shep
I started listening to Shep in the late 60s when I was in high school
in NJ. When I went to the University of Delaware in 1970, I joined a
club that got speakers to come to campus just so I could get them to
bring Shep. On February 29, 1972 he spoke to a packed house for 3
hours and then talked to us oustside standing up all the time for
another two hours. Since I was in the club, I picked him up at the
airport and, with the rest of my group, ate dinner with him. I got my
books signed at that time (paperbacks of In God We Trust & America of
George Ade and Wanda Hickey hardcover). I even introduced him at that
event. Of course, I watched the his PBS shows, including Shepherd's
Pie. A Christmas Story is the culmination of his work, with a cast
that matched perfectly his family, friends and enemies.
I have a lifelong interest in Robert Service, George Ade and a lot
else because of him. Flick will live forever and so will Ralph.
What is there to say... I miss him and the nights I had my 9 tranistor
radio under the covers in Atlantic Beach, NY tuned to 710AM .. Nobody
like him will ever pass this way again, he was an American Original. CQ,
CQ, God bless you and thanks for the memories you have left in all of
us. I am sure right now he is playing "Ragtime Cowboy Joe"
Mark Rockmore Columbia, MD
Shep only died in body, his spirit will live on
Excelsior you fatheads,
Last year, we lost Frank Sinatra, my mother's favorite performer. This
weekend, we lost Jean Shepherd, my father's favorite performer.
As a child in New York in the 60s and 70s, listening to Jean Shepherd on
WOR at 10:15pm or 9:15pm, every night, and in later years setting up
the tape recorder, was a ritual.
I absorbed some of his wisdom and distrust of the powers that be, but I
was too young to appreciate it all; mostly I'm saddened that such a big
part of my life, such a big part of someone who was such a big part
of my life, is gone.
- David Chesler (firstname.lastname@example.org, etc.
The Face on the Bar Room Floor poem (story) was done with the greatest of
reverence and compassion. I welcomed it each time it was voiced by Jean; so
much so that 20 years ago I bought the words and still reread it frequently
to regain the "Shepard experience" of so many years ago--when I first heard
him tell the story; and envisioned again my sharing the experience he
He received three columns in the "Obits" of the LATimes; he deserved more.
A very long time ago, 1965 to be exact, ny husband and I were in Greenwich
Village at the Lamplight Cafe to see Jean. It was the first outing that we had
as newlyweds. We had a wonderful time until it was time to pay the bill. We
had underestimated the amount. We did have enough money to pay the parking lot
and the bridge toll. As we were waiting for Jean to sign out copy of "In God We
Trust ...", we were discussing the situation. As we left the cafe, we
discovered $5 in the book. Just enough to pay the parking. What a wonderful
"Here I am, This feckless, beardless youth...I didn't have a feck to my
...and I'm heading east on route 80 deep in the heart of Jersey. 75 in the
fast lane in my Jeep CJ-5. You know, the one with the balsa wood
transmission. My ham radio is on, the squelch turned up. It was quite a
party but now I have to get home. Hmmm, Still too far from the city to get
mt favorite station. When suddenly the squelch breaks on the 2 meter rig:
"K2ORS listening, 52".
K2ORS? I know that call. The voice sure sounded familiar. Is it? Can it
"K2ORS, this is N2CEY, November Two Charlie Echo Yankee. How Copy?"
"N2CEY this is K2ORS. Name here is Parker, heading west on route 80. You're
full quieting Old Man. Go ahead."
It was unmistakable. It couldn't be but it was. It was Him. I've got Shep
on the other end and he's talking to ME! But...What'll I say? Oh no, I
can't chicken out, not now, not here! I'll never get this chance again.
I've gotta say *something*. I have to let him know how much he meant to my
youth. I have to thank him, I have to know what he's been up to since he
disappeared from WOR.
"K2ORS, N2CEY: HI SHEP! WOW! NAME HERE IS SCOTT. I CAN"T BELIEVE ITS YOU! I
USED TO LISTEN TO YOU ALL THE TIME! THIS IS GREAT! OH MAN, I'M YOUR BIGGEST
FAN! I LOVED THE WAY YOU TOLD ALL THOSE STORIES ON WOR AND I USED TO LISTEN
TO YOU EVERY NIGHT, I EVEN USED TO COME IN EARLY JUST TO HEAR YOUR SHOW!
ALL THAT STUFF ABOUT FLICK AND BRUNNER, AND KISSEL AND HIS PORCH! THIS IS
THE GREAT! WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO??? K2ORS, N2CEY"
A pregnant pause.
Two Pregnant pauses.
I can feel the color running out of my face. I have blown it. I have just
proven, undoubtedly and irrevocably to the person whom I hold in utmost
respect and esteem that I am a Babbling Idiot. I await the inevitable
judgement from the Old Man himself and I know that I deserve every bit of it.
"N2CEY, this is K2ORS. Sorry old man, you're not making it. No copy."
(Obviously a lie since I can't be more than 1/4 of a mile from him.)
"Maybe some other time. 73. This is K2ORS mobile, listening on frequency."
I rode on in silence for quite some time after that. I had spoken to the
man and he had spoken to me. It was at once the most exciting and painful
moment of my ham radio career.
"Thanks for the comeback anyway Shep. 73 Old Man"
Scott - W1STS
I first heard Shep while I was in college in about 1966. In 1972 I
became a reporter at The Princeton (N.J.) Packet, and when Shep came to town
for his annual "concert," I finally had the opportunity to meet one of my
heros and to interview him for the newspaper. He was extremely polite and
cordial and put me at ease (I was a bit nervous at the opportunity of meeting
one of the true media "greats").
After the story appeared, I sent him a copy. He sent me a very nice
letter. He (or his press agent--did he have one?) added my story to his
press kit. (If I can locate a copy of that story, who should I send it to to
get it added to this web site?)
Several years later Dave Kurman of the Princeton University radio station
WPRB was working as producer of Shep's show on WOR. I spent an afternoon
with Shep and Dave and had the opportunity to write another story. It was an
afternoon I'll never forget. I remember getting advice on writing fiction
from Shep. I was surprised when I asked him about an incident in one of his
stories and he replied, "That's just fiction, you know." I said I thought it
was a true story; after all, it read that way. He commented that all of his
stories were fiction, and he was constantly amused how many people thought
that he was writing memoirs.
He also inspired me to get my ham license.
For the last 12 years I have been the editor and publisher of "Yo-Yo
Times" newsletter. Even though (so far as I know) Shep did tops, not yo-yos,
one of my favorite short stories is the one about Scut Farcus and the
Murderous Black Mariah, which became the basis of the movie, "My Summer
Story"--perhaps the funniest and best story ever written about top spinning,
a hobby that parallels yo-yo playing.
I wish Shep had written a chapter about yo-yo play.
Thanks for everything you shared with us, Shep.
Stuart Crump Jr.
So many references of Shep come from former radio listeners and
colleagues. But my tribute to him comes from the solid gold excellence
he forged out of three works, the movie A Christmas Story and two fine
books, Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories and In God We Trust, All
Others Pay Cash. I have only heard one of his radio shows-although that
will change-but these three productions alone cement his mind into our
collective psyche as a master storyteller who immortalized Ralphie, his
family, friends and hometown so eloquently. His embrace of the bitter
with the sweet made him truly unique. Few men have understood the
twentieth century as well. God Bless Him, our fondest voice now a
Lanny McKay WD5JUW
The news hits me especially hard since I am a Ham Radio aquaintence of Shep.
Shepherd brought a special light to Ham Radio as well as broadcast radio and the
stage. He will be always remembered for what he did for the hobby as well as
73's from all of us Shep! SK
A fan since the mid-50's, when Measles made it too painful to watch TV, and I
discovered radio beyond top-40 WMCA and WABC.
Shep has been an influence ever since, instructing us not to overlook the ironic, not to take the serious too seriously, and always find the humor in everything. Love your family despite their foibles. share experiences with friends, look at authority a bit askance,
and realize that there isn't anyone or anything that is that damn important.
Because of the availability of old tapes, I have introduced my kids to Shep. This has proved a great bonding experience for us, and interestingly, taught them about news and events of the 60's. (Those ponderous WOR newcasts, interrupted by Winston Cigarette,
Rheingold Beer and Palisades Park commercials, were terrific.)
May he rest in peace. Excelsior.
I wanted to send you some other thoughts on Jean Shepherd but did not
want to include anything negative in my memorial. Here are some of my
memories of the day more than 27 years ago when I met Shep. I would
call this "Sam Tomaino's Night of Golden Memories" but I don't want
you to get the wrong idea.
I grew up (and still live) in New Jersey. In the late 60s, while in
high school, I first heard about Shep and quickly became a fan. At
that time, he was on WOR from 10:05 to 11:00 every night. When I went
to the University of Delaware in 1970, I convinced the group (which
programmed various events on campus) that I had joined to get him as a
speaker. The U of D bookstore was able to get the recently published
Wanda Hickey and paperbacks of In God We Trust and The America of
George Ade. He came to Delaware on February 29, 1972. We picked him up
at a small airport. As he walked up to us, I must have looked as
nervous as I was and he said "Smile!". I was a little more relaxed
after that. We took him to the local PBS station for an interview.
This was the still in existence WHYY, Channel 12, the main
Philadelphia PBS station (which, oddly enough, is based in Wilmington,
DE). He was interviewed there. I don't remember for sure by whom but I
think one of the guys is still with the station. After that, we drove
him to the U of D campus in Newark (DE). My group, the Student Center
Council, had dinner with him. He regaled us with stories (many of
which I had heard). It was then that I found out that his stories were
fictional. I found this a little disconcerting but later rationalized
that this knowledge just made me more a part of the "in " crowd.
We brought him over to the Student Center where he was speaking and
were very pleased to see the room packed (about 900 people). I
introduced him and sat down at the speaker stand but he asked me not
too. As I left, he joked that I had an "authoritative walk". He wowed
the crowed from 8 until the Student Center closed at 11. Then he stood
outside on a cold night to talk to us for another 2 hours. One of the
things we asked him was who he thought the best late night TV talk
show host was. He said "Johnny Carson" without hesitation. We were
surprised at that as Dick Cavett was the current "with it " guy. He
said that Cavett had high cheek bones and all but Carson really knew
how to do an interview. This puts an odd coda to his disastrous
appearance on the Tonight Show.
As I lived only a little south of Red Bank, I went to his appearance
at the then called Carlton Theater (it was changed to "Count Basie"
later) on April 7. My friend and I got there about an hour early and
they let us in the lobby area where we could see the stage and the
preparations being made. He must have seen us back there because he
came back and....
Had us thrown out of the theatre, saying "They probably don't even
have tickets!". Of course, we did and were able to return later when
they were letting people in. We rationalized that he was just nervous
about things (or upset that his "underwater ballet" was not coming
off). Yeah, I know how stupid that sounds. We did enjoy the show. I
also rationalized that he just saw our backs and did not recognize Sam
with the Authoritative Walk who he has spent a day with just five
weeks before. It was a long time until I could admit just how
disillusioned I was. I still enjoyed the radio show and the TV shows,
but there was now a bit of cynicism in my enjoyment. He was a great
talent and I could still appreciate that.
When I went to see A Christmas Story in Thanksgiving weekend, I knew
it would be a hit because at that time "Christmas movies" were a
rarity. It is certainly one of my favorite movies. The casting is so
perfect, even if Darren McGavin seems a little old for the role, he is
perfect. The scene were Melinda Dillon destroys his "major award"
really encapsulates the battle of the sexes. He still loves her, but
he hates her for that one moment. What more can I say about Peter
Billingsley? He too is perfect. A big flaw of the Fourth of July PBS
show is how wrong Matt Dillon is for that part.
As the years have passed since the two times I met Shep, I have been
able to put those days in perspective. In a way, those two meetings
are almost like a Shepherd story. Many of them were about disasters.
Have I grown cynical about the cynic? Naah, just realistic. It is sad
to say that most of our great humorists have been cynics. Mark Twain &
James Thurber come to mind. I am not surprised by that radio interview
in which he disappointed his old fans. I think we should not idolize
him. I don't think he would want that. He was not a saint. We should
appreciate his enormous talent and keep that memory alive.
When "A Fistful of Fig Newtons" was published, it got good reviews in
both The New York Times and The National Review. I think that
underscores the universality of his appeal. Another time, when
National Review reviewed a collection of American humor, it began with
"It is hard to take seriously a collection of American humor that does
not include Jean Shepherd." I agree. I regularly look at these
collections in the bookstores and never see Shep there. Are they just
ignoring him (unthinkable) or would he never sell the rights? I would
guess that later. Do you know?
I got very little sleep, those years in NYC. Staying awake to listen to Shep.
Years later I became a talk show host in Austin Texas, Jean will always be for me the peak
to reach for, a great talent. I was the Shep in my own way on the air. Thanks Shep you
were and are the best. I am not a fan of most people but Jean Shephard, I am your biggest fan.
Thanks for the memories.
Thirty years ago, the high school lunchtime discussions of two teenagers
(that always included a recap and discussion of Shep's show), started what
has become a lifetime friendship and a terrific 23 year (and counting!)
marriage. I was very sorry to learn of his death in the NY Times today.
My husband and I have been lucky enough to produce one child whose favorite
film is, needless to say, A Christmas Story.
I first heard of Shep when I was in 8th grade and our English teacher read
"Wanda Hickey's NIght of Golden Memories" to us. It had been published in
Playboy, so the teacher held the magazine inside a manila folder.
One of the boys in class had his own copy of Playboy, and would bring it to class so he could read along with the teacher. He was anxious for the other kids to know that he had his own copy, so one time, when the teacher was turning a page, the kid read out the next few words for him. The teacher was pretty cool, and said "If I see that magazine, I'm supposed to confiscate it. So please make sure I don't see it."
A few years after that, I was working at a summer camp in Sargentville, Maine. After lights out, there wasn't much to do, so I'd listen to the radio. Even in 1971, there were a lot of stations in Maine that stopped broadcasting at sunset, so I usually could pick up WOR pretty well, and started listening to this guy telling weird stories. Eventually I doped out that it was the same guy that wrote the Wanda Hickey story. I've been a big fan of Jean ever since. I was one of the relatively few people who saw "A Christmas Story" at a movie theater, having cajoled some family members to go.
Sorry to see his passing, but hope he has inspired enough of us that the art of storytelling goes on.
Shep's work will carry on throughout the millions of listeners he has
I listened to Shep on WOR in bed while growing up in Connecticut. His
insights and stories influenced my decision to get involved with
electronics, broadcasting and Amateur radio. Thanks for this site and
the tribute you give to an American original.
My brothers turned me on to Jean around 1967, and his humor had a supreme
impression on me. I became the only kid my age who would seek out Playboy
magazines just for Jean's writing. (Well, pretty much.) I was one of the
legions who listened on school nights under the blanket with the transistor
radio tuned to WOR. And when my oldest brother went to Vietnam, we taped
Jean off of the radio and sent him the tapes. He was never off-color, but
always hip. His tales were the most radiant reminder that humor is
everywhere. And his stories (and the antics of Gorgeous George, the
wrestler) were the only things that I'd ever encountered which brought my
Dad to the point of tears from laughing so hard.
Growing up in the urban weedpatch of Jersey City, New Jersey, I was always
impressed with Jean's monumental descriptions of the industrial 'splendor'
of Hohman, and thought on so many occasions that he could be describing my
neighborhood. The Grasselli chemical plant, the smell, the foul water, grey
skies, the furnaces ("dark as a bat's groin" was a phrase I think he
used)could have been my everyday landscape. I was perversely proud that he
picked on New Jersey in the way he did. His description of The 'Flagship'
(navigating its way northward up Route 22 with its cargo of cheap furniture
bound for New York) makes me laugh even 30 years after hearing it.
And he gave me the inscription for my tombstone: "The light at the end of
the tunnel...is New Jersey."
Jean Shepherd was proof that God has a sense of humor. And that he must be
getting tired of Mark Twain.
He will be missed.
PS: It was the Washington Senators who scouted Castro as a pitcher in the
very early 1950s.
I never met Jean Shepherd. I had no direct connection with him in my
I will miss him dearly. I'm glad to have known his work.
Shep's voice first came to me in the person of Mr.Kittell, our art teacher,
in Little Silver, NJ, (Markham Place Elementary). Boy, did he make "In God
We Trust" our bible for the next several years as he read aloud passages
from that great book during our feeble attempts at clay candleholders. As
soon as the five of us pre-adolescent boys could, we scurried home to
listen, at first guiltily, and then with increasing glee, as Shep ruled the
airwaves. I don't think any of us ever fell asleep before the ending
reveille. Memory fades, but voices have a way of staying in the conscious.
I can still hear his maniacal laugh, and remember his tales of going to
Barbados, or his time in the army, or wherever his unscripted mind took us.
No one figure in any medium has had the impact on me that Shep had, whether
live at Princeton, on WOR, or on the TV.
Rest in peace, Shep. Flick lives, and now, so do you. None of the phonies
in the industry today can come up with five minutes of the wit and mastery
of the art of talk that you gave us night in and night out for all those
Philip E. Mugridge
La-da-deeeee da-da-deeeee ...
Thanks, Jim, for making these pages available ... wonderful words on this
tribute page, and wonderful memories swirling in all our heads ... I have
spent much of the last year sending disposable income to Max Schmidt, and my
collection of Shep on tape is getting formidable. I'm particularly fond of
the 100 series -- the WOR shows from @1975 ... how remarkable to rediscover
such a formidable piece of my formative years.
And at least as important as the radio shows, of course, are the books. You
don't just read them once and shelve them. They're always within arm's reach,
and once picked up, can't be put down until one or two stories have been
devoured for the 20th, 25th, 30th time or more ... how remarkable that they
continue to make me laugh out loud, even after all these years.
The news of Shep's passing was sad news, indeed. It's ironic that a guy who
spent so much of his life talking about kids and kidhood never had kids of
his own. (Imagine having *him* as your old man!) I'm delighted that my own
kids, 6 and 10 right now, don't scream for the top 40 radio station when I
pop a Shep tape in the car cassette player. If nothing else, they've
developed an appreciation for the "Bahn Frei Polka."
Me ... I'm gonna go buy me a new kazoo.
Dear Shep fans everywhere,
I cannot believe that he died. I was a Jean Shepherd from the instant I
heard him on WOR. In 1956 0r 57 I really don't remember the exact year, I
heard him talk about his youth in the mid west. It sounded like mine and I
grew up in Brooklyn. That night, he gave a wonderful comercial I can't
remember what that was about. I do remember it was great. The next night he
was not on the air. I called up WOR and I found out he was fired. The
management told him if he wanted to stay on the air he had to go out and
get some commercials. He wasn't going to do that. So he just invented some
for actual, real stores. I think one of them was for White Castle, but I'm
really not sure.
They fired Jean the next day. I really protested to the station. What I
didn't know was that there had been thousands of protests. As I understand
it , groups were picketing in front of the station. The Jean Shepherd fans
had brought the WOR managementto their knees. They decided to bring him
back. But they couldn't find him. So every 30 minutes they would say. Jean
Shepherd come home. I don't remember how long it was but he finally came
back to the station. I haven't seen any other reference to that incident. I
don't know if i had the details right but I know it happened.
Jean also had a Christmas show in which he related his adventures in the
army. It was Christmas eve and he had guard duty. He couldn't find his
replacement until he looked into a puddle of water and pulled out his
replacement. Again I can't remember the details. When you get old you know!.
His decriptions of his working in the steel yards as a kid was classical.
Later on, one of his best stories was when he went on a blind date. He was
sure she would be terrible. Well she turned out to be a beauty. He couldn't
believe his luck. But he found he couldn't make any headway with her. The
he realized he was the ugly blind date. Just great!
I hope he finished his last movie script. It would be sad if he didn't..
With great memories of his work,
I remain a loyal Jean Shepherd fan,
Harvey I Miller
How many nights between the ages of 13 to 17 was I more than happy to
retire early, turn the radio on and lay in the dark listening to Shepard
on his "Jews Harp" and kazoo? My best friends became Schwartz and
Flick. Wasn't "the old man" just a little to familiar to all of us?
For some reason, the library at St. Cecilia High School in New Jersey
was well stocked with Shepard's books. Once or twice a year I'd look on
the check out card you had to sign to see how many followers Shepard had
enrolled in our "club". Years later, after "A Christmas Story" was
released, I felt as if I'd returned to the old neighborhood. I have to
say that after Shepard became more popularlyl known through the movie, I
felt that he had betrayed some of his outsider status.
The first time I read "In God We Trust" I stayed up all night reading,
finishing at about 6:30 in the morning. That day I actually fell asleep
in class and the principal didn't believe me when I told her why I was
I'll never forget the place in my young life Jean Shepard had all those
years ago. So many simple, beautiful memories. I hope there was
someone in his life who gave him the pleasure he gave me.
I was listeining to Shepard's monologue one night. Everyone else in my
family had gone to bed. I decided to turn the program off and go to bed. I
went to the radio and placed my fingers on the knob, and 1/2 hour later,
when the program was over, I realized that my fingers were still on the
knob. The story that he was telling that evening was so riveting, that I
didn't realize that I had been mesmerized by him.
I sincerely regret his passing.
I remember listening to Shep as I was going to sleep. I don't think I
hardly ever heard a complete show. What a voice! I have a terrible memory
for this kind of thing but I remember two specific things of Shep's.
I remember a bit he did on the radio where he was playing some wild drum
music and talking about it as a primitive ritual performed by frat members
But the funniest one was when I saw him in concert at Princeton University
my senior year in high school. It might have been the first thing he said
in his act. Went something like...
You know what they have on license plates in New Jersey? The Garden State.
... long pause ...
Now that takes balls!
Over twenty five years later I can remember it as clear as if it happened
I grew up, and went through adalescense with Jean Shepherd. I listened to his radio broadcasts on public radio every night. Growing up was very difficult for me. Shep's broadcasts shed a real light on things. He helped me see things with with a sense of humor. He was a real banana character. He made a big difference in my teenage life.
I love your page, I happened by it one night as I was surfing the net,
looking up Jean Shepherd sites.
It's amazing, when I ask my friends who are my age, which I am 18, if they
had ever heard of "Ollie Hopnoodles Haven of Bliss" or of "Fourth of July and
Other Disasters" that they don't have any idea what I was talking about.
When I watched Forces of Nature with my friends, and saw the giant sombrero
toating Mexican guy holding the South of The Border sign, no one laughed with
My father taught me the importance of Shepherd's literature, the total
realness of the things that had happen to him, his childhood and his
experiences. Ollie Hopnoodles and Fourth of July, and Christmas Story have
long been my favorites.
When I had heard that Shep had died, I was heartbroken. My litterary hero,
my old man, had died. I literally started crying right there in the car, a
peice of my childhood had died.
Sure, I shouldn't take it that seriously, people die every day, but it really
does hurt to know that such a hero, such a briliant man, died.
Thanks so much for reading my letter, I appreciate it much. If you'd like,
you can contact me anytime at SlayrAngel@aol.com or at RavenWavs@aol.com.
An Adorring Shep Fan,
Jean Shepherd fan for life
Add your memories about Shep
Volumes 1 2 3 4 5 6
Copyright © 1999, James E. Sadur.
All Rights Reserved.