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
Two of my favorites he did for PBS were "Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of
(it was also on the Disney Channel when they were trying for something
loftier than cleaning out some of the worst Disney junk features out of their
"vaults"), and another one, with Matt Dillon, which I think was called the
"Great American 4th of July Parade".
Was not as familiar with his radio work--WOR was hard to get in
Milwaukee--but loved his writing.
He will be missed.
Shep changed my life. Ever since I first heard him on WGBH FM in Boston in the mid-70s, I've been a fan of his work. He truly understood the human condition, and the true power and importance of nostalgia. I can't believe he's left us.
What can you say?
He made us laugh and in life where there's way too much sadness and way
too little laughter, he brought us the latter.
I introduced my wife to Shep with a copy of "Wanda Hickey" and she still
laughs at the description of Wanda without glasses, something like "Her
eyes had that deep liquid look of all myopia victims."
I had a very bad week at work this week and when we got everything
fixed, I nearly ended my email message with "Excelsior, you fatheads",
but no one would have gotten it.
As a kid growing up in a rural area of SE Pennsylvania, I'm not sure
whether I first heard Shep out of KYW in Phila or on WOR. I do remember
those 4-hour shows (9pm-1am) on Sunday nights. I bought a radio out of a
wreck and put it in my 1940 DeSoto so I could hear him on Sunday night
trips back to college. I cherish my recently returned copy of "In God We
Trust" and have revisited the classic on several occasions. I sure miss
the voice that gave me so many hours of entertainment as a teenager and
young man, and am saddened when I think that the memories are all that are
left. My ribs ached and tears flowed as he navigated a counterclockwise
Sousaphone in a clockwise wind (or was it the other way around) while the
Hammond High Band performed a counter-march. I could picture Wilbur
Duckworth, he must have been related to Lovely Lloyd, our drum major.
As a young science teacher in New Jersey Shep's influence was obvious in my
classroom. Somehow, the "Cremation of Sam McCree" always made it into a
lesson on heat and the best kids got to sit in the "fathead" gallery. As
an avid sportscar fan (1950 Jag XK-120) I hit my peak when I met Jean at
the New Hope Auto Show in the middle 60's.
Jean's passing reminds all of us that life is fragile, especially for those
of us that have been fortunate enough to survive a major medical incident.
As I look back over a life that has been blessed by good friends and the
best family ever, I cherish those hours I spent glued to the radio
listening to my idol.
As a fan, I caught most of the TV shows that Jean did in the early to mid
60's but always felt that they never came up to the level of his radio
performances, books, and Car and Driver articles. I guess he could paint
much more vivid pictures in my mind than the TV camera could.
Shep may be gone, but his memories will always be with me. Long Live Shep!
I grew up with Shep (not literally - but as a listener). I listened
whenever I could and tried to get other people to listen and
UNDERSTAND! Went to the Limelight in the Village and saw him do one of
his live broadcasts from the club. I still remember it!
Thanks again for bringing ole Shep back for me. Keep up the good work!
It may seem odd, but I only found out an hour ago about Shep and I'm still
stunned. Reading all the wonderful comments I find myself amazed that he was
a part of so many lives. The way he touched me in the 1960s felt so personal
that it's hard to imagine that so many others were also touched. I don't
think I missed a show from the time I was 14 until I went into the Navy at
19. I even listened to WOR's news from 10:00 to 10:15 to make sure that I
wouldn't miss the theme. I can't even begin to mention all the stories he
told since for some reason they all meld into one wonderful experience. For
some reason the one where he put a curse on us and than instructed us how to
take it off (squatting jumping and shouting nonsense - I did it all) comes to
Thankyou Jean you'll be missed greatly. Thanks for the Christmas Story, it
let my children understand the magic their father couldn't begin to describe.
And thanks George Reinhardt for letting me in on the magic!! Ogg and Charlie
When I heard the news on the radio I felt
It hadn't come entirely unexpected; I knew that he was living in
Florida and that he had been ill.
Actually what surprised me was that his passing would
make the news at all; I sort of thought that only I and maybe some
nameless people at WOR knew about Jean Shepherd. I guess I did
know that other people may have been listening at night but if so
they were just listening to him talk to me.
And then I find this group. I read your wonderful and loving
messages and I smile and I remember (and wonder where I can find a
Kazoo on such short notice). I remember my pillow and my little
transistor radio and the "brass figligee with bronze oak leaf cluster"
and "I'm this kid see..." and "speaking of brain dead, this is WOR
radio and we'll be here till midnight." and.................
I sit here now rereading some of your email messages and I
realize that I'm not alone. And so, I quite suddenly now, I feel a deep,
hurtful loss. He was my friend.
This, you sharing of your memories, is THE Jean Shepherd
I use to listen every night as I feel asleep, I think my life and my
attitude has been affect by all those subliminal messages and stories
that floated into my subconscious. I've been that blind date, the kid
waiting to see Santa, the recruit trying to pass that test.The guy
pluging in the Japanese christmas tree. Shep had a handle on life. Don't
take yourself too serious. Bye
Thanks Shep......your ramblings in the pillowed dark honed the edge of my cynicism and enlarged my humanity.....as feeble as this is..........thank you..............New Rochelle '64
When I think of Mr. Shepherd I will always see myself as a child in bed and
under the covers listening to his wonderful stories, even though it was way
past my bedtime..
He gave us all much joy and laughter....
Rochelle Park, New Jersey
Aside from listening to jazz musicians, one of the most important impressions
made upon me as a child was listening to the late great Jean Shepherd. As a
youngster, I sent Shep a letter of many pages written on different colored
paper. One of the greatest thrills of my life was when he announced my name
and read the letter over the air. Clearly, from all the sincere and
thoughtful messages posted at this site, Shep was a very important part of
many people's lives.
Although I never met the man in person, I felt like he was my friend and that
there was a very close connection. Certainly the medium of radio had much to
do with this. As Bob Kaye writes on his web page,"...we few lucky East
Coasters, huddled under the covers at night, next to the clock radio, heard
Shep tell these stories to us".
I miss him.
The Parker family reflected life in the Calumet Region better than the eclectic
quilt of families in Whiting, Hammond, East Chicago, and other polluted points of
Northwest Indiana can. That is to say is writings and screenplays were more accurate than
real life. If you've lived in Northwest Indiana, then you are in the cast of Shepherd's
masterpieces. I envy the East Coast folks who formed such a warm relationship with him on
that medium of imagination -- radio. What a treasure that must have been, listening to his
spinning yarns ...
Flick? Flick who?
Add your memories about Shep
Volumes 1 2 3 4 5 6
Copyright © 1999, James E. Sadur.
All Rights Reserved.