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
Thanks to everyone who sent these outsanding tributes to Shep!
Add your memories about Shep
Volumes 1 2 3 4 5 6
This is a wonderful site.
And I am very sad today. Jean Shepard shaped my life more than my family did
( of course they were all addicted to him too). I used to hide the radio
under my pillow so my mom wouldn't know I was up that late. ( that of course
was when they started making teeny little radios , before that I would
listen on that old thing that had the beautiful glowing tubes in it). I am
grateful to have grown up in Jersey in the 50s and 60s because I had Shep to
turn me into the wacky middle aged woman I am today.
I don't know what I would have done if I had not found you today. You saved
me from waking up my best friend in California , who also grew up on Shep,
to commiserate. Therefore , you have probably saved my friend ship, since it
is very early there and he is a muscician....but I digress. Thank you for
Ruth, who is going to have a good nostalgic cry right now.
When I was a kid growing up in The Bronx in the sixties I'd listen to Shep
late at night while pretending to be asleep. The next day, his stories and
antics were good for several hours of joking conversation with my
classmates. Back in the sixties, New York City was attempting to bolster
its poor image with tourists by introducing an ad campaign entitled "New
York is a Summer Festival." Shep's response was to deflate this campaign
with his own slogan: "New York is a Summer Fistfight." His theme music at
the end of the program always came too soon. If you listened very
carefully, though, at the end of the Bahnfrei Polka you could hear Shep
singing the last note: "Aaaah." I am saddened by his passing but still
love hearing his voice on the old radio tapes. Excelsior, You Fathead!
what a wonderful site. growing up in nyc, i was a huge shep fan. i was
appalled at the obit that ran in the NY Times on Sunday, and emailed in a
letter to the letter, suggesting that the only way they could have shown him
less respect was to say he'd also had a successful career as a country
singer. thankfully, others must have done the same, since a more extensive
and respectful version ran in monday's paper.
Shep's voice will always be in my head. I think his voice was one of my
earliest memories, along with the voices of my folks. Excelsior!
Like many of the other contributors to this page I spent my youth listening
to Shep in the dark when I was supposed to be asleep. My Dad forgave me
because it was he who started listening to Shep in the 50s when he was in
Philly. My mother still tells the tale of my father driving on a snowy night
to hear a Shep concert, and her anger at his risking his life to hear Shep
while she was pregnant with me.
My dad took me to hear Shep at Council Rock HS in Bucks County PA around
1973. I was mesmerized. I wrote to Leigh Brown trying to get him to come to
our school. I graduated before I could conclude the deal. A few years later
I was in New York on a Saturday and found myself walking past WOR. On a
complete whim I asked the guard if Leigh Brown was in (I figured he would
never let me by if I asked for Shep). To my surprise he said he wasn't sure,
why don't I go up to the studio and see if she's there! Before he could
change his mind I hustled up to the studio and asked where Shep did his
show. I just stared reverently into the booth for a few minutes looking for
kazoos and Jews harps. Everyone was very nice to me but I didn't want to
push my luck and left quickly.
Goodbye Shep and thanks for the insights and humor you gave.
Remember everyone that Excelsior means "still higher, ever upward". I can't
think of a more fitting phrase to remember Shep today.
He will be missed. His books, radio programs and movie narration so
memorable. The Christmas story even a favorite of my children - we have a
1938 Red Rider BB rifle too! TV Guide ran an item about hom and his late wife
a few months back. I had the pleasure of meeting him twice while a newspaper
reporter in the 1970s.
Shep's death is sad news indeed. Like so many of those whose messages I
have read, I listened to him almost nightly on WOR (while growing up in
Brooklyn). My brother always complained about the radio being on, but I
refused to turn it off until the last note of the theme song. As a
teacher now, I believe what a colleague said - the most meaningful
evaluation of teaching comes years later. By that standard, Shep's
"teaching" was truly masterful. I have yet to add up all I learned from
him. I also saw Shep at Cornell in the early 1970s, and helped graffiti
the campus with "Flick Lives". Living in Cleveland, it is good to see
how many people are devoted to A Christmas Story, in part because some
of it was filmed here. I get a kick out of telling them when Shep
appears in the movie. A final connection - the woman who teaches the
exercise class at my son's former preschool was the head elf in A
Christmas Story. I look forward to watching the movie with my son, and
sharing some of Shep's legacy with him.
After living in New Hampshire for 13 years, my wife, daughter and I have
just returned to New Jersey to live. We have moved into the vicinity of
Princeton, and being a long time Jean Shepherd fan, I decided to check the
net to see if he still does the annual show here. I was dismayed to find
out that Shep had passed away last weekend, and even though I only met him
once, briefly, I feel like I've lost a life-long friend.
Like many of his followers of my generation (I'm 41 now), I started my
"relationship" with Shep listening to him on WOR in the 60's. I listened
from deep under my blankets where I was fairly certain my parents couldn't
hear. I listened in on the strange goings on, Jews Harp and Kazoo music,
and mystical stories of life in and around the Indiana steel mills. I was
hooked! I wish I still had the recordings I made on my 3" reel-to-reel
recorder of his exploits in Miss Meeneys 2nd grade class, or the show where
he simply had Ham operators call in all night to say their call signs on
broadcast radio. To this day people find my interests esoteric and "way
out" of the main stream, and I thank Shep for that every time I find myself
floating above the earth in my airplane or talking to someone I've never
met via Ham radio.
My one meeting with Shep occurred because of our common interest in Ham
radio. He was the guest speaker at the Dayton Hamvention (in Ohio) banquet
dinner, and I had tickets in my anxious mitts. It was around 1978, I don't
remember the exact year, and my friend and I, both fans, decided to
construct a large sign reading "Flick Lives". Just before the banquet was
to begin, after everyone was in their seats, we stood up and paraded with
the sign up to the dais. Just as we thought the security guards would stop
us, Shep yelled out "Let them up - their friends of mine from New York!".
It was a great moment, and we got to exchange a few well chosen sentences
and gain an autographed Hamvention program before we were escorted back to
our seats. I talked about this moment for years, though most of my friends
and associates simply didn't understand.
Unfortunately, my autographed program, tapes, and most of my Jean Shepherd
books were destroyed in a flood in 1986. The experience of growing up with
Shep's unusual perspectives on life, however, can't be destroyed. I've
spent the day today searching out the internet in order to listen to audio
clips of his old radio show and am re-experiencing them as if for the first
Thanks for the web site, and all the great references. The country has
lost an important icon - I hope they appreciate it.
Hartley oscillator circuit
The eat-in at the 14th St. Automat and
the 4 inch kites in Washington Square park...
Philadelphia 1957-58 before I joined the army. Would not have missed
show for anything. His show came on when I went to bed. I would listen in
the dark to all of the great stories and wonder who the man was with the
voice you could listen to all night. Wish I could turn on his show tonight
Daily ritual whilst growing up in Hillside, NJ: The radio is tuned WOR,
700 AM on the dial, the sound of cornflakes crunching and "Rambling with
Gambling" in the a.m. before school and cornflakes crunching and Jean
Shepherd in the p.m. before bed.
I used to listen to Jean when he was on WLW (Cincinnati) and I was
trying to do my lab reports. I remember the first line I ever heard him
say - "The rich have their champions and the poor have their champions.
I am the champion of the mediocre."
I've collected a number of tapes from TV broadcasts including Jean
Shepherd's America. I hadn't hear him for a while and often at night, I
would scan the dial just looking for him. A part of my life has passed
I thought I would be sad when I heard about Shep's passing but I am not.
decided the only way to honor his memory was to listen to my old cassette
tapes of his radio programs and smile and laugh.
The true test of a writer is when they can make you feel that you know
their characters. Well, even though Shep is the same age as My Old Man he
created images which my friends and I could easily relate to. It is as if
I went to school with Schwartz, Flick, Bolus and the rest myself.
Thanks, Jean, for portraying a down-to-earth perspective of life. Now I
think I will go look for a 6-SJ7 generator; maybe tonight I'll look up your
cousin Buddy, have some Jim Beam (neat) and go follow some drunks!
Shepherd was the greatest American humorist of the last forty years, a true
genius. And an intellectual who exposed everything phony about being one
and left us with the hard-core truth that cynicism was funny. (Especially
after staying up too late frequenting all-night bookstores and searching
for the ideal pastrami sandwich.)
Could we have survived high school without him? Would we have wanted to?
With his help, "we knew .... we really knew." And what did we know? That
the realization that there were no answers could be infinitely enjoyable.
Let's hope that in this situation William Morris has the audacity to send
regrets. Or at least a brass figligee with gold leaf.
It is with great regret that I learned of Sheps passing. Around 1961 I became friends with a television repairman by the name of Jim Boughton W2PAF. I started going to service calls with him and learned a great deal about electronics. Jim was the one who introduced me to Jean Shepherd on WOR radio. As it turns out Shep and Jim were in the Signal Corps together. Those were great times. Jim died in 1966 and time marched on. I am now ham and have taken Jim's call sign. I'll say a prayer for both of them, and honor their memories.
Jack Holub W2PAF
I am another of those "undercover" fans who used to listen late
school-nights when I should have been sleeping. Never regretted the lost
sleep! I lived in Delaware and could pick up the signal from WOR pretty
well. Sometimes odd bits of his just come popping back in my head, such as
the week he kept playing an old WOR commercial, "W-W-W-W-somebody stop me,
OR", that dumb tune has stayed with me for years.
Or trying to keep from laughing out loud in order not to wake up the rest
of the house.
It is very sad to listen to what talk radio has deteriorated into today,
measured against memories of Shepherd. It unfortunately appears that there
will never be another of his like. He was the master.
"May the song 'Red Sails In the Sunset' always fill your ears ....may the
smell of 100 dead crappies in the bottom of a leaky rowboat always fill your
nose....may the taste of pickle juice (right out of the jar) always coat your
tongue.....and may your eyes always twinkle as you recall the 'good
times'.....farewell Shep....you will never be forgotten"
My Dad...RIP....always fell asleep with a transistor radio resting on his ear
as he listened to Shep on WOR in the early '70s....
and there was always a smile on his face as 'The Master' spun one of his
famous tales. Dad and I were able to meet Shep at a book signing in
Plainfield NJ and again in Willowbrook Mall in Wayne NJ.....nice to see his
'underwater ballet' in person. JS was a good guy....a great talent....and
will never to be forgotten. May he join his old friend Jack Kerouac "On the
Road" once again....
Shep will be missed.
Some reports of his death say that "there are no survivors."
Perhaps no survivors in the biological sense, but a little piece
of Shep will live on in many of us for a very long time.
Shep was the greatest story-teller I ever heard. Many a night in the '60s
would listen to him on WOR while lying in bed at home in Queens. It was as
important an education as I could get anywhere. Anywhere!
We had a guy in the neighborhood, Mr. M, who worked in "the city" at WOR.
Mr. M. was a real stuffed-shirt. One day he told my father that "this Jean
Shepherd is a disgrace." "Can you believe it?' he asked, "Shepherd last
night was telling a story about a high school prom in Indiana where the boys
in tuxes ended up by the side of their car, in some cornfield, throwing up!
And Shepherd spent 45 seconds throwing up on WOR... with musical
accompaniment! It was horrible.'
Of course, it was wonderful. The complaint only further endeared me to Shep.
The obits I've seen say that Shep left no survivors. But as I read through
these memorial notes I realize that we are all his survivors.
Paul J. Baicich
Oxon Hill, Maryland
Yesterday evening my husband came home and said he heard on the radio that
Jean Shepherd had died. A major chunk of my youth died at that moment.
Shep was, and still is, the best thing I ever found under the sheets in the
dark late at night.
I first tuned into his WOR show in 1964. In 1969 I was lucky to be a "token
female" in a group of male HS students who arranged for Shep to put on a
one-man show at our high school in Bucks County, PA. I remember being with
that group afterwards in a room behind the stage where the party and the
stories continued, and getting Shep to sign my copy of IGWTAOPC. To this
day, if anyone wants to read my copy they have to read it at my house; it
DOES NOT leave my sight! I also remember him introducing Leigh Brown, his
producer, that night. What a looker; you should have heard the response
from that testosterone-laced crowd when she walked on stage!
Thank you Shep for a sense of humor that makes me try to calculate how many
hamburgers one can make from a sacred cow. Thank you for reading Robert
Service. Thank you for my imagination. As much as it may try, TV will
never replace those visions. I think I'll go put a concrete Mexican in my
front yard along with the pink flamingos.
It's hard to believe that Jean Shepherd is dead. It seems like only
yesterday that I was lying in bed in a hole-in-the-wall apartment on
Baltimore Avenue in Philadelphia listening to his late night radio shows
from WOR. At the time I was working on a Ph.D. in physics at Penn, and
Shep's humor eased the strain of too much abstract thought and too many
hours in the lab.
Having been in the education racket for most of my adult life, I really
enjoyed his yarns that touched on education if only peripherally.
My favorite was the one about the two young ladies (ladies of negotiable
affection) who were on the bus from New York City down to Princeton at
the invitation of a group of fraternity brothers. As the gum chewing,
hand-bag swinging "ladies" exit the bus, Shep opines that the lads at
Princeton are about to get a lot more of an education than their
professors had in mind!
Dr. Mark H. Shapiro
The Irascible Professor
Thank you Shep, for being the cool Daddy I never had who told me fantastic
bedtime stories every night that lulled me to sleep after hot, tough days...
I had the privilege of knowing and working with Jean Shepherd . When I was
attending Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, we hired him in 1966 to
do a "concert". That was when I met him and Leigh Brown. For a while I was
booking him at other colleges, and even had the opportunity to watch him
tape some shows at WOR Radio.
After graduating college and not knowing what to do he and Leigh advised me
to join the field of PR and promotion. They were both very helpful and
sincere. For years we kept in touch both personally and professionally. He
even wanted to hire my wife and myself as field producers for Shepherds
Pie,on PBS. As we look back we still say it was a big mistake to turn it down.
Its unfortunately that the radio listeners of the80's and 90's didn't have
the opportunity to hear him on the most intimate form of communication---the
radio. His "stream of consciousness" style of telling a story will never be
Also its unfortunate that he wasn't heard on a national level--something he
But we will never forget the original raconteur--who probably had the
greatest opportunity to be the King of all Media.
Michael Balaban--still a fan
I listened to Shep in the early sixties as a high school kid in NJ, and I
saw him at Rutgers in '62 at the Ledge where he was fantastic. At that time
his promo in the school paper, the Targum, said that he had made an
imaginary book a NY Times best seller. The story was that in those days the
Times polled bookstores in NYC to see what was selling and he had his
friends go around requesting a fake book (think it was In God We Trust, but
I'm not sure). It made the list and, the promo said, he had to write the
book in order to cash in.
Oddly Sam Tomaino (any relatives in Hackettstown?) mentioning the faint
disillusion that he felt about Shep rings true with me too. I wonder if
part of that comes from his landing in our lives during those formative
years, making such an impact, making us feel that he was one of us, our
leader, advisor, and confidant. Then we grew up and found that he was not
one of us, that he didn't know us from Adam and that he most likely had a
life of his own.
The curmudgeon angle is also true. He could very well mock our walk, throw
us off the stage and out of his limelight, or not talk to us on short wave,
and that would hurt, mainly because we loved and trusted him. And still do.
There was only one way to read a Jean Shepherd book or story, that was to
hear him in your mind. He will always be there. I can hear him now.
Shep had such a clear-eyed view of the power of celebrity and radio. On
Saturday nights performing before a crowd at the Limelight in Greenwich
Village, he'd come back from the midpoint break with the audience applauding
and cheering, and he'd yell, "All right, people, let's go down and burn down
the City Hall!" The crowd would roar its assent. After a few minutes, Shep
would bring them to order. "Wait a minute, now," he'd say quietly. "I'm
just some guy who talks on the radio. And you're all ready to follow me?"
He could have been a demagogue -- look at all these loving tributes-- but he
was having too much fun.
When I was struggling to survive adolescence in a Jersey suburb, I knew there
were two kinds of people in the world, those who got Shepherd and those who
didn't. He saved my life. I'm sorry I never told him that.
It is with deep sadness that I learned of the death of the great Jean
As a young teenager, I was glued to my Stromberg Carlson clock radio
every night listening to WOR for his
wonderful stories and boyhood adventures.. The intimate emotional
quality of his stories and his humorous spin on
life's ironies was truly special.
I had a special bond with him because I, too was a ham radio operator
and loved to hear about his amateur radio adventures.
I just discovered your web site and thank you, I'm really having fun.
Ken Spingarn, W2OI
I'll really will miss Jean Shepherd. He was the first radio personality I
really came to appreciate.
As a child growing up in Philadelphia, I used to tune in to his show on
Sunday evenings (WOR -710 came in loud and clear in the evening) when I was
supposed to be going to bed. My favorites were his tales of the Bobsy Twins,
his childhood stories (such as the time he and his family left early one
morning so they could see the chimney at a local mill be toppled for new
construction) and of course his "hurling an invective."
As a teen-ager, I followed his invective hurling instructions one Sunday
evening when my parents were out. Just before 10 o'clock and during the 10
or 15 second period of silence he aired, I turned the volume up full and held
the big, white, tube-type radio on the ledge of the open window to my second
floor bedroom. Instead of the announcement I had expected (Jean telling the
world some great truth), he played about 20 or 30 seconds of a steam
locomotive leaving the station ... whistle and all. It was LOUD! I can
still picture all the lights turn on in the originally dark windows and
neighbors going outside on that street of "row homes" trying to find out what
happened while I sat in my room laughing. I'll never forget Jean's comment
when he returned for the second half of his show that night. "That train
hasn't been through this neighborhood in years!"
I got to meet Jean personally in the spring of 1964 when I was a member of
the student staff of WRTI-FM and he was the guest speaker for the Temple
University Communications & Journalism Department annual banquet. I don't
remember what he said in his speech but I do remember shaking his hand,
telling him what a fan I was of his show, and his surprise when he learned
that a regular member of his audience listened in from over 100 miles out of
Yes, I really will miss Jean Shepherd. He truly was one of a kind!
It was really weird. Saturday, I was up in the attic looking for
and ran across a box of "stuff" from long ago. Among the effluvia was a
photocopy of my ham radio license that Jean had autographed at a radio
convention. The next morning I heard the news. Memories of listening to Shep
on WOR (on my first radio - a home made crystal set) flood back. We've lost
a childhood friend, the finest kind. Excelsior, you fathead! But as all
before me have said, "Flick Lives!!"
Living in Texas all of my life I did not have the exposure to Mr.
Shepherd that most of the people on the East Coast had. I first became
aware of him when he did the PBS specials "Jean Shepherd's America". His
shows were some of the most memoriable I have ever seen, and I never get
tired of watching " A Christmas Story". I have wondered what ever
happend to him for the past several years, and was kind of shocked to
see his Obit in the newspaper. It would have been a great priviledge to have known him. I
would love to see his PBS Specials again just to hear that great
unforgettable voice. I will alwlays remember
his as "Ralphie". Goodbye Ralphie, see you later.
Forth Worth, Texas
Here's a portion of my regular column Just Plain Harris (as seen on
HarrisOnline.com), from Monday night, which I thought you'd like to
One of the greatest storytellers I have ever heard died over the
weekend. You may know Jean Shepherd from the movie he created, "A
Christmas Story," which has become a holiday classic on the order of
"It's A Wonderful Life." I knew Shep from years of listening to him as
a kid, late at night, under the covers, on a transistor radio tuned to
WOR radio in New York. His show was only 45 minutes long, but he never
played a record or took a single phone call. He spent the entire show
weaving hysterical stories based on his Indiana youth, and no one before
or since has matched the clever tapestry of his tales nor the nightly
devotion of his listeners. Every once in awhile, he would stand on the
stage of Carnegie Hall or Princeton University and spend more than two
hours spinning these stories, filling them with running characters like
his friend Flick, his neighbors The Bumpuses, his Army life, and so many
more. I had the extreme pleasure of attending two of those nights in
the hall at Princeton and remember them very fondly. About 15 years
ago, my mother-in-law asked me if I would like to read a book for the
Talking Books for the Blind program that she runs in East Hartford,
Connecticut. I agreed, on the condition that I could read Shep's book,
"In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash." It took nearly a year to finish
the project, but it's among the things I'm proudest of. If you're
looking for something to read that's truly funny but with a real warmth
behind it, you can't do better than that book or another Shep classic,
"Wanda Hickey's Night Of Golden Memories And Other Disasters." He may
have died this weekend at age 78, but thankfully, Jean Shepherd's
wonderful stories live on.
The Big 550 KTRS/St. Louis
I am very sad to hear about Shepherd's passing, and
at some point I would like to send a message to your
memorial collection, but just now I have a question.
The last obituary you have on your page says that
"a memorial celebration of his works is being planned in New York".
You probably don't know any more about this that I do,
but I dearly hope you'll be able to let us (the denizens
of Shepdom) know if such a thing really happens, via
your Web site.
I live on the West Coast but would travel to NY at
the drop of a hat for such an event.
Shep meant/means that much to me.
We all mourn the loss of this great story teller and social critic. I had
the great pleasure of meeting him several times when he came up to Boston
to work with us at WGBH. I spent many hours as a board operator setting
up the Sheperd tapes we used to broadcast late nights at GBH in the 70's.
I'm thankful I saved many of them for an occaisional dose of Shepherd
I hope the Lord is ready for a healthy
dose of cynicism up there.
Agent for Deutsche Welle Radio & TV
Many years ago, I had the privilege of hearing Shep for the first time on
his late night radio program. Instant appeal. I have always had an affection
for those who could ponder the simple simple joys of life. Like so many of us
at the time, I was in the "wonder years " of development and absolutely
relished the chance to hear someone with such grand command of the English
language. My contemporaries at the time were a strange mix of jocks and
otherwise misfits. I related far more to Shep and his menagerie of childhood
Lets hope that there is another Shep in the future for our younger friends
My wife and I feel like we have lost a close long time friend. I
remember listening to him in the dark with my transistor radio tucked
next to my pillow- hearing the theme song come on and then the famous
laugh that brought a smile to my lips. I remember one story that he was
telling during that time- about being in the army- well I fell asleep.
About one week later I tuned in by chance and he was picking up the
story again from the point at which I had fallen asleep. NOW I figured
what good luck - I will hear the ending- but I fell asleep again!!!! I
often wonder how that story ended.
Stories about the Warren G Harding School- stories about his family- his
kept me listening night after night.
I found a wed site tonight and listened to a few clips from his
broadcasts- wishing that some radio station would replay every last one
We will miss him.
ron and judy
What can I say? I was saddened when I learned of his passing this
morning. Reading his Dago Bomb story is a tradition I have done for years around the
4th of July. And his tale of the Murderous Black Mariah made me go out a learn to
spin a top. I never dreamed that there is a web site dedicated to him and I'll be back to
look at it more after I dry my eyes.
First, thanks for putting up the memorial pages and the excellent Jean
shepherd site. I hadn't thought much about Shep in recent years,
although I was an avid listener while growing up in Guttenberg, NJ.
Hearing of his death tumbled me in memories, not just about the stories
he told, not just about his amazingly prolific creativity, but about
myself at that time and that place, my friends, and the world as it was
then. I remember another diehard Shep fan in my neighborhood, Alan
Prellberg, with whom I would compare reactions to Shep's latest
"adventures." I haven't thought of him either, or of those days of my
youth, or that world we inhabited several wars ago.
I met Shep once at a book signing--I regret to say I have since lost the
book. But his 45 minute monologs on WOR are what really hold me. They
seemed intimate, vastly funny, and important at the time. I'll have to
buy a few of his old tapes and see if they still impress me that way. I
hope I haven't lost the wonder of his tales, along with everything else,
in these intervening years. And Prellberg, if you're out there, give me
a shout, you fathead!
Bye Shep. Now, Skip, hit the money button.
What a colorfull man. I always listened to him at nite as a kid when I
wasn't suppose to be up. I'd put my ear plug in, turn off the lights
and chuckle to myself as Shep would spin his yarn. His stories made me
forget all about my troubles. He allowed me to laugh at myself as I
related to the caractors in the stories he told. He kept me wondering
what he would come out with next. I loved those stories. I miss those
stories. Hey, do you remember the one where he ranted on about "cling
like hell to your rock, cling like hell to your rock". I can't find
that story. For some reason it sticks out in my mind. If you find that
one let me know. Anyway, hope Shep tells some of those great stories to
the man upstairs. My best friend recently passed away and man he could
tell some stories too. I hope the get together somehow in the next
Good Night Shep!
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who saw "The Wonder Years" as a
rip-off of Shep's radio show. I remember many a night between 10:15 and
11:00 in my teenage years spent plucking eyebrows, shaving legs, examining
my skin minutely for zits, ANYTHING to waste time before having to get in the
shower where I could no longer hear the radio, Mom pounding on the door
yelling, "what the heck are you doing in there???". Of course, once the
notes of the closing theme sounded, I was in and out of the shower in no
time. Mom always said Shep was a male chauvinist, but I didn't care - he was
funny and he was honest. I'll miss you a lot, Shep - the radio has never
been the same since you left - Excelsior!
This is a tough nite. It's 10:15 and I am tuned to WOR 710 but I only
hear drivel now. How I miss this man that has been a part of me since I
was an adolescent 30 years ago in Massachusetts. I wish I were able to
express the loss I feel as eloquently as the other memorials. He has
left part of himself with each us. Thanks Shep for being out there on
the air in the night. 73 DE WA1VQP KN
Ken Philpot firstname.lastname@example.org
I first met him through Wanda Hicky. While driving several times after that I
had to pull over and stop as I had recalled the story and was breaking up so
bad I couldn't drive with stomach cramps and tears streaming down my cheeks.
Today I had to deal with tears again. at least I didn't have stomach cramps.
Thanks for the best reading a boy from Chicago could ever want. I'll miss you Shep.
Shepherd is gone. I discovered Shep in the fifties and followed him
through his WOR years from my home in New Jersey. He was a wonderful
observer of the world and provided invaluable insights and lessons in
life. And, of course, he was entertaining. I especially remember his
architectural critiques of the Flagship, that abomination on his
favorite highway, route 22. I still have my copy of Robert W. Service,
the only poetry I've ever bought, and have the clearest recollections
of him reading passages from Service that described such fascinating
things as ice worms. I got to see and meet him a few times at the
Limelight and once when he came to Morristown to do a fundraiser for
the local community theatre. The theatre was important to him and he
spoke of performing at the long-gone Lambertville Music Circus.
The Newark (NJ) Star Ledger obituary mentioned a possible New York City
memorial service. Perhaps this forum would be a way to spread
news of such an event.
Reading the many tributes is moving. Thanks for letting us all join
in the remembering.
Frank Carey email@example.com
Thanks for the memories, Shep:
Robert Service poems about ice worms on cold winter evenings.
Archy and Mehitable.
Calling wild turkeys out of my bedroom window and waking the neighborhood.
Creating our own earthquake.
Hearing our names over the radio.
"The Sheik of Araby".
You will always be the King of New Amsterdam to me.
Rest in peace. We'll see you someday.
It's amazing how many late-night WOR fans are out there, quite a number
of hams among us. Listening to Jean under the covers was like belonging
to a special club, you immediately knew that Shep accepted you as a full
member, he'd have it no other way. I realize now that this was a rare
privilege granted to those in the listening area, but what an area that
must have been - I can recall Jean talking about shortwave listener
cards received from the Far East! He was unpredictable - I wrote a
complaint about a glaring inaccuracy in a Shepherd's Pie piece - Jean
responded with a certificate designating me an Official TV COO-COO! The
outpouring of tributes on this site are quite a tribute to the man -
thanks to the owner for providing this forum.
That beige, square clock radio (hardly digital) sitting inside that clunky
wooden headboard of mine. 10:15-11:00 every night in the mid-60's onward. God
how I loved that man! "Cha cha chudda cha,Lucky Lindy,up in the sky". An
entire 45 minutes of
reading listeners names, and entertainingly yet! I listen to that tape now;
who could pull that off? Would anybody even listen in 1999?
Stern slammed Shep this morning on his show; we're both 45 now. Every 11PM
when I perfected turning that little sculpted, plastic knob to the 12
o'clock position, just when the music ended, where was he? His loss. My
I would lay awake in my bed, radio closely held to my ear, so my folks wouldn't know I was still up. It was winter and the sound of a chilly wind whistled throught the cracks in the window. I'd sink down down in the bed, immersed in his world, fascinated by his insight and homespun plilosophy. I've missed him these past years and will probably continue to. He filled a small but important part of my young life and in some strange way, he helped me become the man I am today. Thanks Jean.
Sherman Oaks, Ca.
Shep's takes on New Jersey made this lifelong Jerseyite howl with
Forever my hometown of Fort Lee will be remembered for the "Fort Lee Finger"
thanks to Shep. Tonight all the fingers in Fort Lee salute Shep.
I just found out tonight that Shep is gone-by chance only, reading a New
Jersey paper online, which is odd, considering that I have been living in
California for the last ten years.
I am saddened by the news and feeling more alone. Jean Shepard was something
special for me---My brother and sisters are all older than me, by 11 to 18
years, yet listening to Sheps stories was something we all had in common. I
can remember being in my sister's car one dark, snowy Christmas night
listening to the tale of the Red Rider BB gun ....another night, a 4th of
July, listening to the tale of Ludlow Kessle and the Dago Bomb, just before
the fireworks started for real just overhead. These are memories that stick
with me-the sound of Jean Shepard's melodious voice painting the pictures in
my mind, everyone in earshot listening in rapt attention til the master was
I am so happy to see that there are so many others that have their own
memories, that Jean had such an impact on so many--for many years, he would
cross my thoughts and I would try to find someone else who had heard of him,
heard him, knew who Jean Shepard was. He was special and finding someone
else who knew him was always a big deal to me. My native Californian husband
now knows more than he every cared to about Shep---but he is the one who
makes sure we don't miss the marathon of "A Christmas Story" !!!
I know I will always look for people who know and loved Jean Shepard the way
I did, and thanks to Jim and all the others who make sure I can always find
Oh, and I just figured out why my brother learned to play the Jews harp and
kazoo-at least I didn't go that far!!!
Long live Shep,
in all our hearts and memories
Connie Brown, Sacramento, CA
I remember going to sleep wearing headphones. Old, hard, black headphones
made of Bakelite, with the fabric-insulated wires. On my nightstand was my
dad's old Hallicrafters multiband radio, circa World War II. I heard Shep
through this rig when he was on AM in the late 1960's and always have
associated his voice with the glow of warm vacuum tubes. Funny, when you
get older and your focus changes, things that meant so much can get pushed
into the corner.
So it was that after high school, after college and after marriage, I one
day caught "A Christmas Story" on cable and from the first scene was
anchored to my chair. I *knew* that voice. Those characters were somehow
familiar. The memories flooded back, as though I were an amnesia patient.
After that, I started hunting for more information on Jean Shepherd and read
some of his books. Learning that he was still on radio, I found myself
searching through the attic for Dad's old radio. After evicting the old
capacitors, the hum was virtually gone and I clicked the old control knob to
Shortwave. Eventually, I did hear Jean again as he broadcasted from
Florida. It was surreal, that same voice once again pouring forth from that
same old radio with the "Civil Defense" markings on the dial.
Now he's gone, and we are indeed fortunate to have heard his stories.
So long, Shep. Thanks for the laughs.
But know that you live on.
- G. Zimmerman
I caught the words "Jean Shepherd" at the end of the newscast the
other day. I wondered, had he passed away? I looked for an obituary in the NY Times and
the Chicago Tribune, but did not see any, so I found myself searching the Internet and
came upon this opportunity to share my story.
I first heard Jean Shepherd on WOR, every Saturday morning. I would do my housework and listen to his stories. And what stories they were! His ability to draw into his childhood days was remarkable. And yet, he never became really famous why I could never understand. He was always a cult figure although his talent was so superior to so many others who had "made it."
I hadnt heard anything about Jean for years until a few years ago. My son brought home a copy of a tape of a concert performance apparently given at a large university. It was the old Jean Shepherd I knew and loved incredibly funny. I laugh every time I listen to the antics that took place at Warren G. Harding School. The only thing he seemed to learn was that tin comes from Bolivia! His dread of being called up to the board and how he magically guessed at the correct algebra answer was so very funny and moving at the same time. By the way, is anyone familiar with this performance? Id like to know where he was speaking.
No one has mentioned his virtuosity on the nose flute and brilliant
I first heard Shep Saturday mornings on WOR with the Tommy Reynolds
band, then his all nighters every weekday, never repeating a story.
I saw him in concert several times. Once, appearing with Charles
Mingus in a Sheridan Square theatre, he came out in a raincoat,
carrying an umbrella and seltzer bottle exclaiming, "Excelsior!" We
all replied in unison, "Seltzer Bottle!"
I remember turning up my radio at 1 am, placing it on the sill of my
open bedroom window, and broadcasting a roaring freight train through
the back yards of my Brooklyn neighborhood. Other nights he would
"hurl invectives" in a similar fashion.
Without doubt, Shep is regaling the angels at this very time, with
stories of earthian follies.
Add your memories about Shep
Volumes 1 2 3 4 5 6
Copyright © 1999, James E. Sadur.
All Rights Reserved.