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
I should not be surprisedto find my affinity for
wonderful talents shared by such an enormous group. It appears my
memory of growing up in New Jersey listening to his show each night
beneath the covers isnt exactly unique. Yet, its a comfort now, after
the master storytellers passing, to readthat that so many others also
went bleary eyed to school the next day for all those many good years!
Today, I cherish my autographed "Wanda Hickey" and a love for fun
and beautifully crafted words, thanks much to Shepherd. His humor and
playful cynicism became a big part of my own outlook, always bringing a
chuckle when encountering life's glorious absurdities. There's not a
vexing personality or roadside oddity I pass without still thinking,
"Boy, would Shepherd love this!"
Im not sure what hed say about our outpouring of memories this sad
week, but Excelsior you Fathead! Were all greatly richer for having
stayed up late and listened and read. God bless you Jean Shepherd!
Los Angeles, CA
Shep made one of the first ARRL code tapes back in 1975 or so...
His introduction to the CW practice tape went like this...
So this is Jean Shepherd, K2ORS saying have a clean fist and CONCENTRATE
I will NEVER forget that inspirational message.....I did as he said and
continue to operate CW as my first love.
Pity the new Hams who don't even know what the Code is.
73 Jean and thanks for making me the Ham I am today.
I listened to Shep just about every night from maybe 1964 to 1970 (age 14
to 20). I only stopped because I moved away and out of WOR's range. It's very
hard to explain the appeal he had to me. I'm forced to borrow some of the
descriptions others have used. It was as if he was speaking directly to
me. He made me laugh. Under those covers. My folks could not understand
it. His army stories. The story of the big pack of friendly dogs in Central
Park. Phrases that I use today, like "a fire-plug with feet". This guy will
always be a part of me.
I've often wondered if it was something inborn that made me a talk radio
listener. Or did Shep condition me to that kind of behavior? Even today, I
gravitate to the spoken word (on any subject) in preference to music radio.
Bruce Clark's comment "I'm certain that today, the angels are learning to
play a different kind of harp...." made me me laugh aloud, yet bring a tear to my eye
at the same time. And just like years ago with my parents, my wife hasn't a
clue of why this is important to me. Another piece of my youth gone
forever. It's clear that Shep was not entirely at peace with his place in
the world in his later years. Particularly with respect to the importance
of his radio career. Well, I hope he's at peace now. If he can access the
internet from heaven, he could see the joy and pleasure he brought to so
many strangers. What more could one ask for from life?
I was sad to read Shep's obit in my Sunday paper. He took our whole family
by storm ever since that chance meeting via JEAN SHEPHERD'S AMERICA back in
1972. My father, who shared with Shep a childhood in an industrial
neighborhood during the 30s, especially loved him. I can imagine Dad's
laughing hysterically during the lonely night shift at the abrasives mill as
he read IN GOD WE TRUST between tending the furnaces. He wanted a BB gun as
a kid, too, and met with the same resistance. He also made a special stop at
South of the Border during a trip to Florida just to pick up a Dago Bomb or
equivalent thereof, for the best 4th of July we ever had (and with our porch
I never experienced the thrill of hearing Shep live on the radio or
seeing him. I am discovering him all over again, in a sense, thanks to the
many airchecks that will keep Shep with us always. So there's this guy in
the cube next to mine, see, and he never heard of Jean Shepherd. So I'm
going to make this tape of the show where Schwartz, Flick, Jack Martin and
Shep build this hot-air balloon in Martin's basementfor the Boy Scout
Camaparee, see, and. . .
God bless, Shep.
The long drive to my aunts house every thanksgiving with my brother,sister and
parents traped in the car long enough to allow the teasing, and dads yelling at us in the
back seat,to have everyone tense and ticked off ,contrasted to the ride home when Shep'
thanksgiving story ,the turkeys road crossing etc.,would have us all laughing together .
And this always left me with fond memories of holiday traveling.
One of the many wonderful things about Shep was his generosity of
spirit, expressed not only in the effort and artistry he imbued his
shows with each and every night, (were they really "performances"?), but
in his dealings with his fans.
I saw Shep once in high school - he was addressing the Juniors and I, a
Senior, made it my rare business to sneak out of class, go to a side
entrance of the auditorium, and very gingerly open a side door a tiny
crack to view the great man.
Shep immediately sized up the situation and began a riff something
like "...ever notice how these SENIORS rule the world..they think they
run the school..they can go anywhere and see and do everything..."
His observation, typically critical and acute while warm and benign,
was quickly woven into his ongoing narrative. What a great gift to this
gangly, timid, awkward, pimply fan!
73s, and thanks for everything, Shep.
It's amazing how hearing of the passing of someone whom you haven't thought
about in years can conjure up instant and accurate memories of times, places, and
When I saw the obit, I cried out, "Shep!" My wife asked me what was wrong, and I just answered that one of my boyhood heroes died. How could I possibly explain Jean Shepherd in a few words...
I guess I was young enough when I was listening to him that I'm too old to remember the specifics, but I do remember being absolutely captivated by Shep's stories. They all seemed real, and I was able to laugh listening to them. I was able to identify with many "bad" situations he described, but learned to laugh and accept. Little did I know that Shep was preparing me for adulthood in a most meaningful way.
Reflecting on Shep's passing has made me realize that my attraction to Garrison Keillor and his style was forged by Shep years ago.
G'night, Shep. And thanks.............
Late 60's, early 70's, I wired an extension speaker to a clock radio and
put it under my pillow so the ol' man wouldn't hear me listening to Shep
on WOR-710 ... Straight through high school, Shepherd provided the only
continuity in an ever changing, ever more crazy (and crazed!) era. I
speak of depression era memories as though they were mine ... only
leased from the greatest humorist of our time.
We were blessed to have known this talent; it is incumbent on those who
do to perpetuate his truth. EXCELSIOR!
Exec. Director, College Relations
One Saturday morning Shepherd read a letter I wrote him on the air: "Yeah,
I got a letter from this guy ...." For a sixteen-year-old high school kid
this was a big deal. I related to him the details of a surrealistic
commercial for laundry detergent that had all kinds of things spinning
around with bystanders watching in amazement. No big deal really. But
Shepherd appreciated the fact that a high school kid had developed a sense
of the surreal aspects of life he reveled in.
The following Monday between classes, the pseudo-intellectual editor of the
high school paper happened to engage me, then a lesser mortal, in
conversation about Shepherd's show that Saturday, mentioning this really
great letter that Shepherd had read on the air. When I casually said that
it was my letter, this guy's opened in wide amazement. I could tell what he
was thinking: "you, of all people ... a shmendrick like you ... having the
temerity first of all to write to Shepherd and then having the letter read
on the air ... it must all be a mistake." Adopting the appropriate
supercilious attitude, I tossed it off. But there it stood. I had been
awarded the oak leaf with brass fig-la-gee by the Master. My spot in the
pantheon was now assured.
Eventually, I got a doctorate in Chinese and learned to play the "Clinch
Mountain Backstep." Neither endeavor was specifically related to anything
Shepherd had launched in my direction. But whatever it was that confronted
me in life, Shepherd's humor-filled cyncism got me through many a long
night. And he will get me through many more.
Now we will never have the answer to the timeless question:
Do Mexicans have concrete New Jerseyans on their front lawns ??
Rest in peace, Shep.
Like many of us I listened to Shep on WOR during the early 60s, under the
covers with my transistor radio -- but not always. I grew up in New
Rochelle and was a frequent night time visitor to the City. One night
while returning home in Dad's car I heard Shep demonstrate the fine art of
musical skull thumping. God, it was so silly and funny and just the
coolest thing I'd ever heard. I had to learn to do it, too. I found it
was not too hard to master as I shot down the West Side Drive, 10:30 at
night, one fist on the wheel, the other banging out "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" on
my poor, protesting cranium. I'm laughing out loud right now imagining
what the other drivers must have thought.
When I saw my friends at school in the morning our greeting was, "Did'ja
hear Shep last night?" His show was a lifeline for kids like us. Like
Radio Free Europe for budding would-be hipsters.
I remember my thrill of anticipation at those first bugled notes of his
horserace theme (I think it was called "At the Post"). I loved to hear him
describe himself as "filling in between the scores." And I always stayed,
enthralled till that final, faint, shrug of a groan at the very end.
For better or worse he's the reason I got into radio. When I heard NPR's
obituary on my own station, KPLU, I was cooking dinner. I just turned off
all the burners, sat down and mourned. I suspect that though many of us
may not have heard him in many years, we all feel somehow orphaned. I know
that I do.
EXCELSIOR YOU FATHEADS!!!
Shep will certainly be missed. I hope that somewhere in his estate there is a
treasure chest of unreleased material that may not have met his high
standards but would would certainly be appreciated by us his loyal fans. The
only storyteller I have ever heard that is even remotely close was an unknown
actor - comic I used to know named Murphy Grimes like Shep he too could
absolutely hypnotize you with a story.
I asked him about Shep and even he had to admit to being influenced by Shep
and like all of us a big fan.I only hope Sep's in a better place and keeping
his knees loose.
C. The Mighty Quinn
Thank you Jean Shepherd. As a kid growing up in the Jersey suburbs, I
listened to you at night on a transistor radio stuffed under my pillow, read
your books over and over (I've had to replace Wanda Hickey's Night Of Golden
Memories And Other Disasters several times) and I was fortunate enough to
have seen you perform at Princeton University on a number of occasions.
Your storytelling not only took me to unlikely places, but somehow managed
to include me in the cast of characters. I know that fellow "night people"
will continue to carry on your legacy for generations to come. Good luck and say
hi to Ollie at the Haven of Bliss.
Mike Codey - Robbinsville, N.J.
It must have been just before labor Day of 1965 and my parents, trying to teach
me one of the lessons of adulthood, gave me a clock radio explaining "Now you're
responsible for waking yourself up and getting ready for school". I took this
news with solemnity, all the while feeling the swell of pride. I was finally a
grown-up, I thought. I was 11 years old.
I finished my homework, watched some television and prepared for bed. I took a
shower and brushed my teeth and went to my room. I unpacked my new prize and
plugged it in. I looked at my Timex wristwatch on the bedstand and set the
clock and alarm and turned on the radio. It was ten o'clock. I'd had the odd
transistor radio which I'd placed under my pillow to listen to Yankee games
until the battery died. But this, this was the big time! I found no Yankee
game on, much to my chagrin, so instead tuned in the news on WOR. The news ran
for 15 minutes and I half listened until it was over and the announcer told us
to stay tuned for "the Jean Shepherd show". I stayed tuned and was hooked!
Transfixed by stories of Ralph, Randy, Schwartz, Flick, of tales of soldiering
in a messkit repair battalion, singon along to the song "The Bear Missed the
Train" (sung to the tune of "Bie Mier Bist Du Schoen") and broken up by kazoo
solos, I entered a fantastic new world. It was a world that resonated with me,
because the stories of childhood reminded me of my own and the soldiering
stories reminded me of the tales of absurdity that my father told me of his days
in the army. And the singing? What kid doesn't like lonny tunes?
Shep guided me through the minefields of adolesence. When he finally went off
the air in 1977 I was an adult and, if I was ready to face the grown-up world it
was in no small measure because of the wit and wisdom that Shep dispensed in his
Thus it was with great pleasure and affection that I finally got to meet and
thank the man for his help. It was at the 1986 New jersey teachers Convention
in Atlantic City. Shep was one of the featured speakers. No surprise there,
after all, his life was in part about chronicling the the triumphs and travails
of childhood. With my copy of "A Fistgul of Fig Newtons" clutched in my sweaty
palm, I listened to his talk raptly, transported back to weeknights at 10:15, or
because of the live audience, saturday nights from the limelight. For an hour I
was a happy kid once more. After the speech, I went backstage to meet him. I
thanked him for getting me through adolesence and he cast a jaded glance my way,
as the compliment sounded trite even to me. But I meant every word of it and
Shep must have sensed this, for he took my book and scrawled in it, shook my and
hand and moved on to great the next person.
When I got back out front, I opened my book to see what Shep had written. It
was his name with a single word above it.
"Courage". Years later Dan Rather would close his newscast with this for awhile
and no one in America had any idea what he was talking about. When I looked at
Shep's inscription to me, I understood exactly what he meant and still do to
this very day. I miss you Shep. We all do.
South Brunswick, New Jersey
So sad to see one of America's greats depart. I too as many of a vast multitude
of East Coasters have listened to Shep on WOR during the late '60s into the
1970's (Edison NJ). Had the honor of attending one of his "shows" at Princeton
during High School
- I remember at one part of his show we all turned up our radios to the tune of
his opening theme on WOR it was great!
Best of 73's Shep
WA2RKJ Eric Kilijanski
Just wanted to add my voice to the general din. I found out yesterday when I opened the Op Ed page of The Philadelphia Inquirer that Jean Shepherd had died. It hit me harder than I would have imagined, first shock and then the tears. To live in a world without him seems such a cheat. I'm so glad I took the time to see him at Princeton a few years back. There, in the dark, I got to relive those wonderful nights with the radio as Shep respun the tale of Wanda Hickey. Was there ever such a voice as this? Insinuating, brash, indulgent, hysterical, like the five best radio voices in the world rolled into one.
So hypnotic was Shep's whole approach that I consciously tried to emulate it in my own ham-handed and awkward way when I eventually found myself in front of a radio microphone. But it's foolish to even try. You only get a Shepherd every once in a great while. Like George Herriman, Walt Kelly, Milt Gross, Mark Twain and others, Shep was not merely funny: he was the spirit of America, a walking monument to what it meant to live here in the 20th century. In a way, it seems appropriate that the Millenium conclude on this note. The warmth and generousity of his work now seems to belong to another time.
How quiet and timid and manicured this world seems without him.
"And laugh I will, my lord, and as loud as I can!"
Robert W. Getz
I'm sitting here at work, in tears, because someone told me to read today's
New York Post.
I never met Jean, wished dearly to have and heard his last appearance on a
staticy, faraway radio station.
Many was the night I spent, homework ignored, listening in rapture, to the
Master spin his tales of Indiana, appearing much to my amazement, like the
Brooklyn neighborhood I lived in at the time. I bought the books, and still
read them from time to time, and laughing.
I knew when he lost Leigh, he lost it all. He loved her dearly, I'm sure.
Now, we've lost Jean, we've lost the last link to our childhood...
I will play a Jean Shepherd story on my radio show Sunday...and the Bahnfrei
Polka ( shep's theme).
Rest now, Jean. You did well in life.
Jean Shepherd's modern day creation myths will remain a part of all of us who have read his books and articles heard his stories or seen his movies or television productions. His stories of the Everyman ring true only when we see the irony the phathos that has bubbled forth from the froth of the antidiluvian soup of life. When each get rich quick scheme of life meets the great monkey wrench it forces our hand to turn back the page and read a little more slowly. Unless we seize that opportunity when it presents it self we will be doomed to find that pot hole of life once again. We all needed the alignment Jean I'll miss you.
Growing up on Long Island in the 60's and early 70's listening to Shep was
always the way I capped off a day. It seems especially during the summer. I
don't know why.
I taped a few months worth of shows off the AM radio broadcast on WOR. Even
though I have not listened to the tapes in many years it is comforting to
know I have small piece of my childhood and a small piece of Shep history.
Ohhhh...the Bumpus hounds,Schwartz and Flick.
I'll miss them all.
as i read these heartfelt tributes to Jean, tears for this jesus who has found shelter, it was he and Jocko that helped me make it through deeply depressed teenage years, Jean was the sheik of araby who brought such joy to a life of pain, a sacred pilgramage to his sanibel home to touch the essence of God's enormous grace. love to all, may all be free from suffering, may all be at peace. a grateful listener
To all the "Night People"
An era has passed, but the memories will carry on forever. Shep was both
an enigma and a paradigm. His talent is legend. He influenced me in a
very special way as I wandered through my boyhood. He came to me via a
leatherette covered GE transistor radio under the pillow over countless
evenings on WOR. He inspired me into hamdom, to my first drivers
license, the many used cars of my youth, the prom, the football team,
and dating. God...I miss him.
He has joined the ranks of the "Old Man", the souls of those from
Company K and Mark Twain. Every night, I hear in the mists of my
memories, that last little chuckle trailing his closing theme song. And,
even though I sleep without that radio under my pillow, I drift off to
the whisper of a Shep story and the bass of a General Tire spot. His
signal forever winding it`s way throught the ether. Flick does indeed
LIVE! Thanks Shep for all the memories...you were simply a great friend
I would like to offer my deepest sympathy in the passing of Jean
Shepherd. back in the 60's I would listen to him at night in my bedroom
in Ashaway, Rhode Island every night. Sometimes I would get to laughing
so loud my old man would pound on the wall and tell me to pipe down. I
have many fond memories of his stories. I will miss him greatly.
Terry P. Crandall
I remember listening to Shep with my Dad and my two brothers all sitting
in the kitchen as a end of the day ritual. It must have been like
before there was the boob tube and families gathered around the radio
listening to The Shadow.
I think I'll have a Bloody Charlie this week and toast his memory
I'll miss Jean Shepherd. I have my own Randy and Ralphie and my husband
I want to find a home similar to the one in "A Christmas Story". His stories
about growing up touched me greatly; they are wry and humorous. I cried when
I heard he passed away. His obituary stated there are no survivors, but
judging from these memorials, he has many survivors that will cherish his
memory and talent. Goodbye Shep, I regret I never met you.
Jean Shepherd was a part of our adolescence; he originated talk radio format
but in a humanistic, humorous manner. He educated us; he sang, played the
kazoo; and told stories that one had to listen to. He instilled values that
carry on half century later...instilling the family values(dads love of the
White Sox)..perhaps the orginal of the beat generation...with an eye toward
the reality of the situation ie: the army stories...you could fool the
government but not Jean. Komputer Klub
My favorite show/reading was "Wilbur Duckworth and his Magic Baton"
once read on my birthday (Nov. 24) He usually had something different to read
on Thanksgiving, since he said "no one is listening anyway" His Thanksgiving
shows were always special. Remember the Army story where half the camp got
leave, and half didn't? Well guess who didn't? But they got the day off, and
somehow the cook seargent got a hold of fresh eggs and ham and bread. All the
guys who didn't get leave were able to feast on real food instead of
k-rations. They had eggs anyway they wanted them plus bacon and sausage. They
just took the day off and ate and relaxed, and as Shep put it: "IT WAS A
GROOVY THANKSGIVING!" I just especially remember this show cause it fell on
my birthday. Good luck Shep,Gasser,Goldstein, and all the rest. i will always
remember you Shep, but Thanksgiving will always be a special holiday cause of
Michael J. Shinkarick
When I started studying for my amateur radio license 4 yrs ago someone
loaned me a morse code study tape (cassette). I wasn't all that
enthusiastic about sitting and listening to code I didn't understand.
Boy, was I surprised when I heard Jean Shepherd's voice introducing me to
morse code and the world of amateur radio. What a treat! Of course
I've saved the tape.
We purposely didn't have a television when our children were growing up
in the 60s and 70s. During that time we found some wonderful radio
programs that all of us could listen to. One of them was Jean Shepherd's
program on our local National Public Radio station. Our kids are grown
now with families of their own but they were all sorry to hear about his
We'll all miss him.
It was my Old Man who introduced me to the world of Jean Shepherd in the very
early 60's. So many happy and hilarious memories of sitting at the kitchen
table listening to Shep's broadcasts. Rushing home from the local 4th of July
fireworks to hear Shep read the story of Ludlow Kissel and the Dago Bomb that
Struck Back. That voice will be forever embedded in my memory. I couldn't
agree more about what was said about "The Wonder Years". That was an outrage
to a Shep fan. But back to happier things: July 17, 1982, for a book signing
of "A Fistful of Fig Newtons"at his favorite bookstore in Clinton, NJ. I
stole all my father's Shep books, and took them to the signing, and have a
treasured picture of me and Shep. We both look happy. After chatting with me
for a few minutes, he inscribed the book "In God We Trust..." with the
words; "To Poor George - Jean Shepherd 1982"! My father died in 1987, a Shep
fan till the end. Now they can have some good face to face laughs!
Suellen M. Crowley, with love and admiration
I'm just another of Shep's fans who listened to him from Philadelphia as a
teenager on WOR while I was supposed to be asleep. The fact that he was a
ham radio operator made me identify immediately with him, as I was spending
those high-school years immersed in the hobby(operating 40/80m CW traffic
nets). His humor, philosophy, and cynical outlook struck a chord with me,
and forever influenced the way I look at life. I regret that I never got to
meet him. Getting my graduate degree in folklore at the University of
Pennsylvania, and later becoming a folksinger/musician/performer made me
appreciate his storytelling and "common touch" all the more. I'm glad to
have this opportunity to learn more about him and to say my few words on this
Saul Broudy (W3WHK)
Philadelphia, PA USA
Well, I don't know if I'm going to express anything different from what I've
read here so far, but I still can't believe he's gone...
It doesn't seem that long ago that I'd get into trouble late at night for
having the radio under my pillow -- it was only a 9-volt powered,
8-transistor Panasonic I'd gotten for a First Communion present in '62.
But my folks said that "bedtime was bedtime," and I'd reply that at least I
complied with the "bed" part; I mean, I pointed out that if they said it was
"sleeptime," then they'd have me nolo contendere. This only bought about a
ten minute extension in the discussion, which often ended as I'd lose the
radio to confiscation in the middle of Shepherd's story, or worse, as the
Strauss piccolo notes faded in from practically on high as he was getting to
the climax of the story, or really, the reunification of the story line(s).
So, after my parents figured out that I was enlisting the cooperation of my 3
younger brothers in reacquiring the radio the following morning(s), it
disappeared altogether. I'm convinced that a famous Matsushita executive
bought it from my Mom at one of her floating, continuous yard sales and it's
now under glass in a Tokyo museum.
Undaunted however, I accidentally discovered the ultimate ironic yet
subversive device to reestablish my nightly travels through the AM corridors
of Shepherd's imagination, especially in light of his short-wave proficiency
as well. At a Jewish Bazaar (emphasis added) I purchased an opaque bag of
plastic promotional items which I'd thought contained items from "Fireball
XL5" (see "Anderson, G.) but instead revealed scientific stuff (like a
weather station, etc.) and the beautiful, gleaming CRYSTAL RADIO. With its
three-foot folding antenna and oversized earphone with the blue-and-white
braided cord, I could secret the device between the bed and the wall, and the
antenna would rest precisely in the corner at the head of the bed where the
two walls met. In addition, no sound could escape from the earphone to alert
others nearby to the presence of an audio signal -- although it was difficult
to contain the laughter at times from that same source.
All was well for at least a year -- then one night I startled awake to
discover that I had fallen asleep too abruptly a couple hours before, and
during his night-watchman-style rounds my Dad discovered the earphone cord
entangled around my head and neck. Of course his uttering "GOOD GOD" as he
observed me had more to do with my start than anything. So he then began to
pick up the little radio and the antenna in all its 3-footness to confiscate,
and he said again "GOOD GOD." But this time he added, "this antenna is solid
steel -- you could put your eye out with this!."
Needless to say, my Dad (who didn't care who any radio personality was unless
they played Bing Crosby records exclusively) was shocked when I began
laughing loudly and uncontrollably, even uttering a "fathead" or two.
And yes, one day in winter about five years ago, my folks called to tell me
to "quick, turn on [such] channel -- there's a movie on and the kid in it
reminds [us] of you when you were little. And there's a funny part about
`putting your eye out!' "
So "A Christmas Story" is how my parents finally "got" it about Jean
Shepherd. And that movie always reminds me of the kid in all of us.
I'm sure that when JPS arrived at the Great Beyond (or similar) that a woman
there informed him of a "Major Award" awaiting his signature.
John M. Clark a/k/a Gonlyd@aol.com
I've looked in the papers for news about Jean Shepherd's passing, but
apparently the editors for ours did not appreciate or know of Jean
Shepherd enough to include a story. So I've come to this website.
My husband introduced me to Jean Shepherd more than 20 years ago. Since
that time, I've kept a well-worn copy of his "Wanda Hickey's Night of
....." in my desk drawer at school. Through the years whenever I've
read any tidbit from the book, kids have begged for more. The irony is
that just this past Friday I was reading "Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of
Bliss" to a couple of classes; then I heard on Monday that Mr. Shepherd
So on Tuesday of this week, in honor of his memory, I read Jean
Shepherd's stories for four hours straight. Tough on the throat but not
on the heart! The next day in one class a young man raised his hand and
said, "Mrs. Love, I thought what you did yesterday was really neat. I
want to thank you." Now that's a rare moment for a high school teacher.
I'm proud to say that another 125 kids now know about this great
author. As a humor writer myself, I have found him a great
inspiration. Here in North Idaho, all I have to do is tell the kids
he's the "Patrick McManus of Indiana," and they're ready to listen.
Jean Shepherd's legacy will live on forever because any kid who loved
his stories will find a way to pass them on.
Thanks for having this website. Count Bill and Marianne Love of
Sandpoint, Idaho among the millions of Jean Shepherd admirers.
Mr. Shep will be missed. Many years past of listening to him on my
transistior radio ( 8 transisitors by the way ) made him part of my formative
life. The world has lost many smiles in his passing. It is so sad that the
younger folks today missed such perfection in story telling. May he rest in
peace and may the world never loose his memory. I shall never forget him and
the joy he brought me.
Edmund S. O'Neill
I was truly sorry to hear of Shep's passing. He was truly unique! I listened to
his show on
WOR almost every night from the time I was in high school until I moved to Florida in
1972. I was on I-95 on a June night in 1972 in Daytona Beach heading for Orlando with
my radio on WOR the last time I heard his show. Saw him several times at the Limelight.
I still have a tape of the show he did the weekend Pres. Kennedy was assassinated.
Hard to believe he was 78. He was a tremendous influence on people my age, who grew
up in the New York area. He was the greatest story teller I have ever listened to.
Garrison Keillor can't hold a candle to Shep! I don't think you could do justice to
describing his show to a person who hadn't ever heard it.
To talk 45 minutes every night with no guests, no script, day in day out, year after year,
and still be interesting is an incredible feat!
For all the wit, wisdom, and joy he added to my life, I offer my thanks to
Shep. And, I will remeber him in my prayers.
I owe my career to Shep...as well as many happy memories!
When I was a high school student, I wrote a parody on Beowulf featuring
Shep as the noble hero defending the Limelight. Shep devoted an entire
program to reading and commenting on this "saga" in December 1964, heady
stuff indeed for a small town teenage poet! As a result of that
experience, I was interviewed by a newspaper, got a job in journalism
and today enjoy a successful career in communications. Thank you, Jean
Shepherd, for touching and changing my life. I feel as though you are a
close personal friend, though we have never met or talked to each other.
Corny to say though it may be, you live on eternally in our hearts.
Huzzah, all you fatheads, everywhere!
Linda Brown Holt
Shep had a great influence on the way I look at life.
Some time in the 80s I answered a request found on
the Village Voice bulletin board page to fill out a
questionnaire for some book being written on the
"woodstock generation". It had questions about how
certain people from that era affected you. The
list included names such as Richard Nixon, Timothy
Leary, Bob Dylan, Abbie Hoffman, Jane Fonda, etc.
Although part of that generation, I was rather immune
to all the political and cultural stuff going on then.
I couldn't find a single person listed who had any
effect on me. Then at the bottom there was a write-in
box labeled "other". And I entered Jean Shepherd.
I could only hear Shep in the winter because that was the only time of
year I had an electric blanket on my bed. We lived near Baltimore, and I
had this cheap little transistor radio, all I could afford from my job
at Bob's Barber Shop, a non-union barber who paid neighborhood kids a
dollar a day to sweep up. Took a long time to earn the price of the
radio, but I was just a 13 year old kid, and a buck was a lot of money
So a ham radio friend calls me up and says "You gotta hear this guy
Shep; he's a riot, and talks about ham radio all the time". I'm there
with the earphone jammed in my ear, under the covers like everybody else
on the east coast, rocking the tuning wheel back and forth. Nothing,
just static, every now and then a syllable, but mostly nothing. Now it
gets to be winter, and my mom gets out the electric blanket. By dumb
luck, I find that if I wrap the power cord around the radio few times,
Shep comes in loud and clear! All that wire coupled to the radio's own
antenna did the trick. So there I am, shivering under the covers with
the blanket powered down to kill the buzz, laughing into the pillow.
Next morning, half dead from insomnia and hypothermia, I'd trudge off to
school; flunked many an exam up all the night before. Probably be a
rocket scientist or something today if I hadn't spent a good chunk of my
childhood with Shep.
Well, ok, actually I am a rocket scientist. But I'll never forget Shep
and his wonderfully warped view of things. Listening to Shep was the
first time in my life it ever occurred to me that I could question The
Way Things Are. Shep will live on in the hearts, minds and attitudes of
his legions of listeners.
Rest In Peace, Shep. I'll keep the cord wrapped around my radio.
I was about 13 when I stumbled upon Jean Shepherd while checking out the
airwaves on my transistor radio (hidden under my pillow, as I was supposed to be asleep)
and was instantly hooked. I got my friends turned on to him and we became avid fans. We
put "Flick Lives" stickers everywhere in school. No one else knew what the heck
we were doing. One of my friends wrote to him and got her letter read by him on the
air . The rest of us were in awe. I can remember laughing so hard some nights I had
to stuff the pillow in my mouth. I was amazed how he always got back to the main
story before the show ended. He was a life raft in an otherwise boring adolesence
and will always be gratefully and fondly remembered.
A few words about Shep. I 'm a kid in the 50's and I ve got this little crystal
It looked like a red & white rocket with a wire with an alligator clip and and attached eap plug. I'd clip it to the radiator and fiddle with thtuning nose cone and on would come Shep. It was love at first sight.
One summer I had to attend summer high school. That Spring, Shep had this contest for Nedicks.
"Nedicks, schmedicks, double beedicks, pipkins all agree"
Finish the poem.
I submitted "Nosis Losis, my neurosis , Nedicks that's for me."
Two weeks before school; starts, I get a letter from Shep that starts" CONGRADULATIONS PERSON WHO NEVER WINS ANYTHING.
YOU HAVE WON SOMETHING." The letter was accompanied by
a laminated card signed by someone at the Nedicks company. It promised that each time Ipresented the card I would receive a free orange drink. There used to ba a Nedicks on Flatbush Avenue just up the block from Erasmus H.S.. I presented my self on the first day of school for my fill up. They had never seen the card before
and there was some reluctance to allow my request to be filled. I ordereed a dog
(10cents) with that great mustard relish in theose toasted rolls and received my drink. I was in. Steve Allen was giving away a cannon about that time, but I had my Nedicks card. Wow.
I started taping Shepard on an old wire recorder that my Old Man had in his law office and some time in the early 60's I m sitting outside a barracks at Ft. Bragg listening to Jean. A couple of Marines from my Company sit down and were listening together. It seems that they would hear him at night when the smaller
stations were off the air. Small world.
One last thing, two years ago after talking to him at 2 AM on the radio, I decided to visit him at Sanabel Island. A call to the Chamber of Commerce, yeilded his number. I rode my old Beemer motorcycle from Daytona to Sanabel Island. I called Shep every half hour. He never picked up.
I will miss his rendition of the Little Orphan Annie Song,. I have his recordings
and all of his books, and my minds eye I can hear him now. At his concerts
the audience always has a few kids. I gifted my rug rats with copies of his stuff. Best I can do.
HEY SHEP - EXCELSIOR YOU FATHEAD
Brooklyn, New York
My best friend, Joe, got me and our other best friend, Gary, hooked on Shep at
an early age; I think somewhere in Cub Scouts; I listened to WOR every night for years,
from 10:15 to 11:00 (and later from 9:15 to 10:00) I grew up with a tales of Flick,
Schwartz and the rarely-mentioned Bruner. He was years ahead of his time,
never took a phone call, and would be a tonic for most of what passes as
I remember seeing him at the auditorium at the Donnell Library on 53rd Street in NYC, where he gave a simple talk and told Flick and Schwartz stories that I cribbed as my own at camp that summer. I mauled them; good thing there were no other "Shep-heads" among my summer-camp friends. At least, I was the only one who could play a Jews harp.
When I became internet-capable two years ago, among the first sites I looked for (and found) were dedicated to Shep. I was pleased to see that I was not alone and that Shep had many still dedicated fans. The outpouring on this site is similarly gratifying to this fan and very much in keeping with the growth technologically and and chronologically of the audience which twenty and thirty years ago with transistor radios under their pillows.
In recent years, as A Chirstmas Story has supplanted Its a Wonderful Life as the Christmas-movie-to-watch (all day, Christmas-day on TNT), I was surprised that public interest in its narrator-writer did not increase as well. Maybe this year will be a little different and the powers that be will give Shep the recognition that he deserves. By the way, is that Shep himself behind the Santa Claus beard telling Ralphie "You'll shoot yer eye out, kid" ?
Last among these random thoughts: To this day, when I hear the word "Connoisseur" I associate it only with Shep discussing the steady stream of "adult-oriented" literature he seemed to receive, all of which began with the greeting "Dear Connoisseur". So from one connoisseur to another: Excelsior, you fathead!
This is just a short note to say to Shep----P.I.S.S.S. (Parting Is Such Sweet
EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEADS !!!!!!
judy who cannot read Shep at bedtime due to laughing too hard to go to sleep
I found your website by happy coincidence, much like I found Jean Shepherd's
radio program on WOR some twenty-three years ago.
I am much saddened to hear of his death. It may sound foolish but I though
of him as an intimate friend. As a teenager I lay in bed with him ever week
night, it seemed that he spoke especially to me, God knows that no one I knew
had ever heard of him, no one I knew would have understood his humor. But I
understood, and for forty-five minutes or so each night it gave me great
pleasure to know that I was part of an elite society of strangers howling
with laughter somewhere in the stygion darkness of their sad little bedrooms.
He is possibly America's best humorist, he deserved far more media attention
at his death then he received, but then again few great men's lives are
heralded at their deaths.
Theresa D. Brown
Dear Shep Fans,
I was a teenager in the 1960's living in Brooklyn, New York.
My father was very ill,I didn't have many dates and was very worried about
doing well in school. I often think that Shep at a personal roll in getting
ne through high school and college.
Jean thanks for all the magic that came out from under my pillow.
My favorite memory is after moving to VA in 1972 from LI NY, tuning in late at night to his WOR show and listening to him read the mottos that appeared on the states' license plates while a Sousa march played in the background.
To me, Jean Shepherd had the gift of weaving a tale in such a way that you
remembered what is was like to be young.
His conversations with the audience, especially on the radio when you had to
kick your imagination into high gear to keep up with him, always brought back
to me the wonder, mystery and terror of growing up and trying to understand
I am sorry he is no longer here and thankful for his insight and poignant
Massapequa Park, NY
I guess I never realized how much Shep meant to me and so many others.
The comments on these pages are wonderful and get me more than a little
choked up. Of late, Shep has been coming back into my psyche only once
a year at the ritual "Christmas Story" viewing. I'm always thankful
for the hopeful sign that my two daughters have grown to appreciate the
film almost as much as I have. This website and others which have kept
Shep's art alive are a revelation. I plan to spend many hours reliving
those days in the late 60's. It was a real thrill to see him and shake
his hand at a book signing at college. Moving from Brooklyn to Southern
California in 1968 was tough enough, doing that without Shep on the
radio made for some lonely, quiet evenings.
The final irony was the way I heard of his passing. I was lying in bed
the other night (early morning actually), headphones plugged in and
pretty much asleep. Suddenly I awoke to a far away message from a NYC
AM station and heard the words "Jean Shepard" and "78". I awakened
instantly and knew that a bright light had gone out. It was almost like
I was back in high school and college and had fallen asleep to Shep's
show, only this time there would be no rousing orchestral finale.
To Jean--I owe so much to you. Many of us who work with words for a living will
always be grateful for the wealth of ideas you put in our heads. You were a major
influence on me. What a gas!
I was turned on to Jean Shepherd by a classmate when I was a high school
student in Philadelphia in the late 60s. (Thank you, Christian Braddley!)
It wasn't long before he was a favorite of my circle of friends and we would
actually scan the table of contents of Playboy looking for his articles.
When Jean made a guest appearance on a Philly radio program, I found that my
father was also a fan and he told stories of Jean's early days in the City of
Brotherly Love. Shepherd's humor became a bond between us that survives to
this day. Like others who have posted here, I had the extreme pleasure of
seeing Shep live at Villanova University. He regaled us for about two hours
with a combination of new and familiar tales. In true Shep fashion, about
fifteen minutes into the first story, he was telling us about reaching into
the fridge for a root beer as the old man asked him about school that day.
Shep digressed into another story line that went on for about forty-five
minutes. He brought the house down when he said simply, "So, I'm reaching
into the fridge" and picked up the first story thread.
I also remember that Shep was one of Tom Snyder's best guests on the old
Tomorrow show. Shep and Snyder trading stories of their early days in radio
and television was a real treat. His movies and specials on PBS are classics
that should be broadcast more often and I will watch A Christmas Story this
year with a certain melancholy. I know old fogeydom has finally arrived when
I long not so much for the good old days, but for the good old entertainers.
Storytellers and comedians who could develop adult themes that you could
share with your children and your parents without being embarrassed. Jean
knew the heart and soul of the common man, of all of us. I will miss him.
Thanks for the site.
I remember vividly how Jean Shepherd would get us to "hurl an
Late on a Sunday night, he would have us turn out the light, put the radio on
the windowsill, and turn down the volume for a few seconds. Then, we would
turn up the volume and Jean would shout out into the night, hugely amplified
by the radio's volume knob, "OK Buddy, we got you covered. The jig is up!"
Or less refined words to that effect.
We were then instructed to grab the radio and dive under the bed, slowly
peering out of the window to see lights going on and windows going up all
over the neighborhood.
It was a true exercise in First Amendment civil disobedience, and I read in
one obituary how it was the genesis of that classic scene in the movie,
"Network," where the whole country is yelling out into the night, "I'm mad as
hell and I'm not going to take it any more."
Was I the only kid in the Bronx who actually followed Shep's instructions?
Who knows? Who cares? I loved it.
It was with great irony that I visited your site for the first time today, only to learn of the recent passing of "Shep". Somehow, I think he would have found humor in this irony.
Jean Shepherd molded my personality and sense of humor through his radio shows, books, and films. Many a night in the 1970s was spent under my bedcovers with the so-called Japanese transistor radio, listening to him weave a tapestry with his voice. His books left me laughing so hard that I cried. And his films have brought laughter to my whole family. He was a tremendous natural resource, and I will miss him.
One of my favorite "Shep" stories is the day I received a neon sign shipped to my house. I recreated Darren McGavin's wonderment as he opened the crate containing the lamp from "A Christmas Story". When my wife came home, the neon sign was shining in the front window. We all got a good laugh out of it.
You have created a wonderful site for this great guy. I'll be stopping in regularly.
In the early 70's, while attending Drexel Univ in Philly, I was thrilled to
find that Shep had an appearance scheduled at Drexel, for I had long been an
avid listener (thank goodness for clear-channel WOR). As I purchased tickets,
I was afraid I would be the only one there, because, after all, how many
people in Philly in the 70's knew of Jean Shepherd?
Of course, the auditorium sold out. As I waited in my seat for him to
appear on stage, I heard folks all around me muttering the same thing: "
Where did all these people come from? I thought I was the only one that
listened to Shep!"
Alan Lee, WQSR-FM, Baltimore
Ahhh, those nights with the transistor radio securely hidden under my
pillow. The volume just loud enough so I could hear it thru the pillow,
and low enough that my folks thought I was sleeping. I guess it was my
pre-teen and teen years. I just found him one night as I tuned my trusty
6 transistor radio and that was it; I was hooked. Great memories. What a
story teller he was! One of my fondest memories was the show he did once
a year. The show was comprised of him doing nothing more then reading
names of listeners who had mailed in their name. That was the whole
show! Of course I had sent in my name and listened intently and then I
heard it. "...and here is Steve Stewart, WN2PJN, he's a novice" and then
on to the next name. I had sent in not only my name, but also my ham
radio call sign as I knew he too was a ham radio operator. I will be
listening next Wednesday and tape the show. I wish they would replay all of them. Shep, you were
the best at what you did and maybe the only one. Remember, be carefull
or you may shoot your eye out. RIP
It's been said that Shepherd was bitter in his later years. Well, who can
blame him? Having mastered radio, television, print, movies and performance
art (I can hear his derisive snort at that term), it must have galled him to
hear Howard Stern described, if only by Howard Stern, as the "King of All
Media". Surely he knew that Lake Wobegon is Hohman, Indiana, with churches
instead of steel mills and a bad case of the cutes. PBS seems to have lost
the wonderful programs he made for them, while endlessly rerunning British
mysteries and remodel-your-house shows. Most of his books, and his George
Ade anthology, are out of print. He must have felt forgotten.
Quite simply, Jean Shepherd was one of the great radio artists. He
understood that his listeners were people alone -- working, driving, lying in
bed. If you were with someone, why would you be listening to the radio?
Shepherd's "Night People" were Edward Hoppers "Nighthawks".
Whether telling army stories or reading Service
ballads, his message was always the same: Hang in there, Mac, this night
will end. We'll get through this together. You are not alone.
There is no one like him now. Maybe there never will be again. Goodbye,
Shep, and seltzer bottles, wherever you are.
Millions will miss your style, grace, wit, and insight to
the human condition.
a fan for many years,
Jan Normandale in Toronto
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Copyright © 1999, James E. Sadur.
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