Tales of the Shep

Contributor's Stories and Comments about Jean Shepherd & These Pages

Volume 12

Previous Home

From: Joan Casey
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Shep fan in Ireland
Date: Thu, 5 Mar 1998 20:55:30 -0000


Dear Jim,

You called it right, I did grow up in suburban New York, Ossining to be exact.  I discovered Shep after getting a radio as a Christmas gift--trawling the late night dial to listen to hockey games in French or Buffalo top-40.
I moved to rural Ireland 8 years ago with my family, but before we left NY I made sure I had my audio cassettes of Shep reading his various works on "Sheperd's Pie -Slices 1,2,3" (courtesy of Barnes & Noble mail order).  I also armed myself with paperback copies of 3 Dolphin collections one day hoping my kids (or my husband would be able to relate to them).  I believe you need to have heard the man himself on a live mike weaving his stories to get hooked.   My Mom invariably found me with the radio hissing away in the night long after Shep signed off.  I would try to hide it under my pillow so she wouldn't order me to turn it off.
WOR went through a lot of changes over the years, I listened to them a lot even as I got older.  I went through a big "Bob & Ray" phase too in the seventies.

Continued good luck with your pages,

Regards, Joan Casey

Date: Sun, 8 Mar 1998 22:59:09 EST
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Fellow J Shephard Fan..

I would love to get a copy of Shep's story about the friend of his who was learning to fly, or was with someone who had just received his pilot's license and landed at a field somewhere in PA between Bucks county and Lancaster County. One of the pilots in the "command shack" at this field pointed to an air map posted on the wall of the shack with big red dots on it. The red dots represented nudist colonies. One of them had its own airstrip. The story goes on that they found the the one with the air strip and ended up giving a buxom naked lady a ride in an open plane. I don't remember the details, but if you've heard of it or know if this tale has a title, I'd appreciate it. Good site- Been to Princeton 3 times to see Shep- he's a classic!!

Date: Tue, 17 Mar 1998 02:49:58 -0500 (EST)
To: tony ficociello
From: Joel Baumwoll
Subject: jean shepherd
Cc: Jim Sadur


I just read your posting to the Jean Shepherd site put up by Jim Sadur. You make a very good point. I recall pictures of him in his 30's with short hair, white shirt and tie, looking every bit the organization man.  He worked hard at what he did, and that was writing, performing on radio, tv, film, producing among other pursuits. However, I don't think Shepherd made his reputation on being "counter culture" though he ridiculed a lot of what he saw and read.

He was and is an observational humorist, quick to hold a mirror up to any and all behavior that had humor, irony or hypocricy imbedded in it.  His "kid" stories area large part of his appeal, as are his reading of Service poetry and George Ade.  He was as quick to hold up to ridicule someone who though he was "too hip" for words as he was someone who was too serious about the ad business.

The movie "A Christmas Strory" is as warm and fuzzy as anything Disney would produce, and his portrayal of family is usually full of love and warmth, asseen through a realistic lens.

I have come to the realization that I do not want to know anything about the "real" person behind any performer I enjoy, and that goes for athletes, actors, singers and the like.  What I want to do is to enjoy them for what they are good at and leave the rest alone. I didn't need to know that Bing Crosby was a cruel and rejecting parent.  I didn't need to know that Woody Allen was a twisted, sexually warped personality (although if you saw his films you couldn't miss that).  It took some of the pleasure I got from watching him. I've not been able to enjoy John Wayne since his conservative views on the Vietnam war were so publicly stated.

I am sure if I ever sat in a room with Shehpherd and talked to him for an hour or two, I might not like what I heard.  But that's not what he gets paid for.  He has been an entertainer all his life, in one form or another, from playing country music to narrating tv commercials.  And he has never made any bones about that.  You sound sort of betrayed by the reality of his character.  I don't think he tried to fool anyone or misprepresent himself. He was and is a professional artist and entertainer, nothing more, nothing less.  And if you're good at what you do, you make the loot.

I'm interested in your thoughts on this.

Joel Baumwoll

Date: Sat, 21 Mar 1998 22:50:32 +0100
From: Joseph Hickey
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Teaching

March 21, 1998

This will interest practically no one since teaching in the U.S. is not teaching and since the only thing one can identify with is sitting up late at night in one's bedroom under the covers and listening to WOR. All of the Easteners attending college on the West Coast were thirsting for Jean Shepherd's Limelight programs(that was the 60s, wasn't it) and the longer(?- my memory is playing tricks on me here) sessions in the 50s.

The point - Jean Shepherd taught me how to teach.  How to have a concept and construct 60 minutes so that one had a begining, a middle and an end.  But the concept had nothing to do with miniscule American teaching values.  Jean Shepherd taught me how to handle an audience - I use to remember how he handled hecklers.

So I'm in Europe, have been here for the past nigh onto thirty years, my kids watch The Christmas Story and I say, that was me as a kid , and the only thing that was important was that he taught me how to teach.

Which, of course, means absolutely nothing to the real people in America.

We were all under the bedcovers at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m on the East Coast in the 50s, weren't we?

By the way, I often now go to Indianapolis with the family and once when there, there was an exhibition at the local museum on Radio and I thought, well, Jean Shepherd must be among the projects somewhere, but NOPE.  At least, Durwood Kirby was there and H. J.(?) Kaltenbrun, which brings us back to teaching since me and the students(all over 21) have just seen and discussed Pulp Fiction.

One little problem - I forget the exact words to the phrase - becoming more and more important in Germany here -

"A mile wide and a foot deep" -   the crud or something similar.

Bye. J.

From: Tom Mitchell
Date: Fri, 3 Apr 1998 16:32:20 EST
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: re: jean shepherd

I listened to his WOR radio show (jew's harp in hand) when I was in elementary school in the New York City metro area.
Once I heard him on WFCR from Amherst, Mass (on tape?)
Did he record his shows to be aired nationally? Are tapes available?

I met him once...at a book signing at John Wanamaker's Department Store in Cross County Shopping Center in Yonkers, NY (must've been early or mid-70's) Did you mention "Jean Shepherd's America" on PBS??? "A Christmas Story" has become my favority way to get into the holidays.

.....a big fan....Tom Mitchell

From: Karl Schulte, WA2KBZ
Date: Tue, 7 Apr 1998 00:54:58 EDT
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Shep story

Hi there from the Midwest, of legend.  Hey, its really like I heard Shep describe so many years ago on WOR when I was a Listener.  I still have some old tube radios so I can feel the warmth and love of radio.  I grew up across the bay from NYC, on the northern end of the Jersey Shore, and could see the lights of WGN's antennas from the top of our hill.  This was the place where "submarine racing" got its name (lover's lane on top of the hill overlooked Navy ship/sub base and piin the distance).

I was introduced to Jean Shepherd by friends in HS in 1960, and never missed a show.  I listened on earphones late at night, on a home made receiver (tubes), and really missed his stories about the Chicago summers (like a fat lady sitting on you) the Forest Preserve lakes (the night his Dad let him stay with the men and hear cuss words while drinking beer and cleaning fish, and the descriptions various flotsam freely floating on the lakes, and the thrill of the first fish).  I have experienced all those things myself, and I still think of those old stories when fishing on the very same lakes (the same flotsam including beer cans and funny long white balloons, is still there).  I even worked with RADAR and related technologies in USAF.  I used to retell Jean's story about the value of human life (he was at the secret lab in the woods in NJ - an offshoot of Ft. Monmouth, where my father was his instructor by the way); he was told that the radar modulator/keyer tube was worth his life if he divulged its secret - 20 years later, he saw it for sale for $16 in radio row surplus stores and in an ad, thus learning the value of human life.).

As I said, I missed his shows when I went overseas. But one night, I don't know why - homesick, I guess- I used our powerful shortwave backup radio set's receiver (SP600 - about 26 tubes) to see if I could by some miricle, pick up WOR.  That was pretty near impossible, as I was on a mountain top in Turkey at the time.  Well, there it was, and in a few minutes I heard the station ID and on the air came Jean!  I was glued to the set for about an hour, until it faded out. I never heard it again, though I listened often.  Well I was thrilled anyway, just to have heard this voice from Home at all, due to some freak atmospheric effect.  Luckily, I was able to tape some of it, and I listened to it a number of times.

Yes, thrilled I was indeed, but not nearly as much as I was when I returned on leave from the USAF and called the station to tell the WOR engineer about it. By the way, I am a BC engineer/DJ too (WJML- 10KW AM/FM plus short wave BC), but working as a radio comm systems engineer, recently retired from Motorola and own own consulting company, but I digress.  What was especially thrilling about that strange night, you see,  was that on that special night when I heard the broadcast from so far away, when I was so homesick, the show had been off the air for over six months!  How did it happen?  I've guessed that there was a rebroadcast (WOR said no) or a local AFRTS station at the main base 60 miles away was playing one of Jean's tapes (they said no, and their range was only 2 miles).  Maybe a long lost echo came back from an early transmission (I never heard a date) or perhaps Jean had Listeners much further away than he ever guessed, who rebroadcasted their favorite shows, and I heard it (this would explain reports of glowing lights over the Forest Preserve ponds - alien fans making a pilgrimage, not swamp gas).

Hope you can use that little story (and its true, by the way).

And thanks to Jean for the nice memories , wherever you are; his shows were one of the deciding factors in my moving out here from NJ to the NW sub's of Chicago. And nice job on the web page.

>From a Listener,
Karl Schulte
WA2KBZ (Ham call)

From: Murphy 27G
Date: Tue, 14 Apr 1998 11:55:51 EDT
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Jean Shepherd

Dear Jim,

               Thanks for a great job on a truly wonderful web site .

                I had the great good fortune to see Shep in concert outdoors at Clinton , N.J. some years ago and the great god of dumb luck not only smiled on me but but worked overtime . I video taped the show in secret so I have what is the only video of one of his concerts I have ever even heard of. Well when the show was over my friends and I decided to wait for the crowd to leave before we would, some time passes, and we decide to use the restroom before we leave when an employee of the museum says  Excuse me were you looking  for Mr.Shepherd, Huh oh yes suddenly the mens room lost its alure. We are usherd upstairs.and their he is well I was doing standup at the time and acting to give you some idea of what this meant to me at the time, it would be like some local parish priest walking into a room and getting to hang out with the pope.  We stayed with Shep for over 1 1/2 hours him telling us stories and me telling him stories {imagine getting to tell Shep a story} I only regret not having the video camera with me {the battery was now dead and put away in the car} to this day I am glad my friend was with me so I at least have a witness.

Murphy 27G

From: "buzzr"
To: jsadur@intercll.com
Subject: Jean Shepherd
Date: Fri, 24 Apr 1998 23:16:39 -0400

As an avid fan,perennial listener on WOR, never missing a Seton Hall(I attended the prep) appearance, and when possible a Limelight  attendee, how come no mention of the "Jews" Harp- He not only got me started on that, but I wonder how many people other than myself went out and bought a copy of "Guggenheimers Sour Kraut Band?- Out of curiosity, I chanced across this site- there is a God, even if He wouldn't live in New Jersey!!!

From: Irv Hyatt
Date: Sun, 26 Apr 198 17:42:43 EDT
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Shep

Just a quick, true short story.

   When Jean Shepard was on late night WOR, I was with my wife, traveling from Flemington heading east on route 22.  Shepard was in the midst of his story as we were driving when he suddenly said "Yes, you know what I am talking about. The husband and wife driving on route 22, in front of the Dairy Queen."  My wife and I were in front of the Dairy Queen just as he said that.  I can't remember the story, but that moment stayed with us for over 20 years now. Weird feeling.

Irv Hyatt

From: Len
Date: Wed, 29 Apr 1998 15:11:04 EDT
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: "On the Waterfront"

Hi Jim,

Yours is one of the finest, most comprehensive websites I've ever seen.  Thank you!

Back in the 1950's, during my college days, living on $20 per week, I used to listen to Jean on WOR.  One marvelous thing he did for his listeners was to arrange for all that showed up at I believe the Sheridan Theater in Greenwich Village was to see a free showing of "On the Waterfront."  I went to see the movie but had no idea what I was in for.  It turned out to be one of the finest films I've ever seen.  Brando was absolutely at his best.

I don't know how Jean arranged this preview event but I will always be grateful.


From: "Benjamin Tropiansky"
To: Jim Sadur
Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 16:47:14 -0400

As a youngster listened to Shep under the covers of our little working class flat in East Flatbush. I had a little Japanese transistor radio. Since it was too dark to see where the limits of the tuning dial were I stretched that darn tuner cord clear into morning...father got darn angry that my birthday present was ruined after one day...managed to acquire another radio but did the same thing....Shep are you out there listening...you owe me two transistor radios....

Date: Sat, 23 May 1998 20:39:47 -0700
From: "Tim J. Davison"
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Shep as a literary giant

Good Evening!  I began my Jean Shepherd experiences in the early to mid 60's when my Dad would let me read the Jean Shepherd stories in Playboy - before I was even in high school.  I was captivated then by his prose style - to the point that the accompanying "illustrations" in the aforementioned magazine became a non-issue (almost!).

This year for my Dad's 78th birthday, my wife and I bought him a couple of Shepherd's novels.  It was one of the greatest presents we have ever given him.  Dad, then Mom, then Aunt Gen and Uncle Jerry and who knows who all have been reading them since March.

Well, to my point . . . I am a high school literature teacher that is in process of designing an Honors class for next school year and as I began tossing around writers to teach, I came across "Lost at C" and bingo, Shepherd leapt to life.  Doing my usual research the Internet way I came across your wonderful site and immediately decided to e-mail you for suggestions.

Since it looks like I will never see the novels I gave to my father, I am going to purchase some Shepherd works.  Suggestions for a high school level class?  I am interested also in radio tapes.  Since I did not get to hear any of these in my youth, can you be of assistance here as well?

Any suggestions for a unit design using Shep as the author in various genre would be greatly appreciated and researched.

Thank you very much

Tim Davison
Toppenish High School
Toppenish, WA

From: Rick Erben
To: Jim Sadur
Date: Sat, 23 May 1998 23:59:00 -0600
Subject: SHEP

   So I'm with this chick, see. And we're driving down the road and listening to a tape. There's this raucous version of "The Shiek of Arabi" and someone is playing along with a  kazoo or jews harp. It does not do justice to try and explain Jean Shepard. One just has to experience some of his classic material to become either a devotee or hopelessly confused. When we stop for gas, if she doesn't return I know it is just as well.

     I am elated to find this website and will add a few personal recollections. My memories of Shep go back to the fifties in Philadelphia. I recall he had a program on WCAU TV for awhile before heading north. Being rather young at the time I was fascinated by my father's laughter which erupted repeatedly during Shep's programs. My Dad always had WOR tuned in - amidst the crackle of static late at night or Rambling With Gambling as I would be getting ready for school in the morning.

     I talked to my ex a short while ago. She wanted to know if I could make her some copies of Jean's programs. Over the years I have wished there were tapes of some of his shows as I only have a few dozen which I saved. The great banana oil disaster is one of my favorite. I loved the dissertations about the steel mill, the railroad (he hated them like Ahab hated the sea) and radio.

One recalls Jean talking about the catalpa trees outside his window as tubes (B3 juniors?) glowed on his transmitter. I think this was the occasion when he "broke the house" through some great electrical arc.

     I was listening to a tape while driving back from Kansas City last week. On it was  WWVA's Jamboree Party from the early sixties when the all-night show was hosted by Lee Moore who strummed guitar, poured coffee and stirred it at the open mike and played Kitty Wells, Mac Wiseman and music from the Nashville Bible House. It seems as if an entire expanse of time is spilling out from amidst the hiss and crackle from an old AM signal. Jean once did a program about what it might be like if you could go far enough out in space to overtake radio signals and then hear the first beepings of Marconi, eventually leading up to some guy named "Old Shep".

     After the WWVA segment on this tape was an hour of Jean Shepard at The Limelight, circa mid-sixties. Coincidentally enough, the program was about a time when he and Gasser, etc. had New Years Eve leave in KC  and went to this "show". The tape is marred by constant crackling which was interference from the flashing Christmas lights in our home. Back when I was just getting out of high school and thus able to consume alcohol in NY State, a friend and I would take the train from Philly to NYC to see Shep's show at The Limelight on occasion. It was quite an exciting event for relative youngsters.

     To this day I believe Jean Shepard is one of the most intelligent voices I have heard. I haved missed his commentary over the years and certainly wish him well.  My full-time gig is with the railroad however I broadcast jazz on KIOS-FM here in Omaha, NE. Every now and then I'll play the Mingus recording featuring Shep on "The Clown". I have never been able to explain who Jean Shepard is in the context of announcing this recording other than to say that, like Steve Allen, he posseses a wonderful sense of humour, irony, insight and life.  I am glad A Christmas Story seems to have found a  niche as a regular holiday season feature on many TV stations.

     That is all. Much appreciation for the fine website, greetings to fellow Shep-aholics and best wishes to Jean. ahhhhhhh...

From: Mark MacIntyre
Date: Mon, 01 Jun 1998 23:03:47 -0700
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Great Eastern Mills, Totowa, NJ  (1960's)

Jesus Christ, Almighty! I haven't even thought about Great Eastern Mills in over thirty years! I used to spend hours in the pet department, listening to Herb Oscar Anderson's WABC Radio broadcast over the store's PA system.

Your Shep page is a Godsend! I can't believe my high school buddies Jim Lewis, Gene Luer and I weren't the only ones spending our pimply high school years with a transistor radio under our pillows in the sweltering New Jersey summer nights.  Barely audible above the cacophony of Katydids, we listened, sweat-soaked, to the master weave his audio turkish rugs of stories.  Remember the one where Shep, Flick & Schwartz had double bacon cheeseburgers and triple pineapple malts just prior to the big cross-country meet?  The sound he made (with ample reverb) of Flick barfing still haunts me....

Thanks for helping me relive some of the highlights of an otherwise eminently forgettable high school experience.

Mark MacIntyre
Boonton High School '74

From: "Vic Kryston"
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Excelsior...
Date: Wed, 3 Jun 1998 13:45:29 -0400

Jim, Thank you for your wonderful Jean Shepherd site.  As I describe in the chapter (from my sadly unpublished book about teaching) below, Shep played a significant part in my tender New Jersey years. Come to think of it, he still does.   Hope you get some chuckles from it.  Vic Kryston


Chapter SEVEN:  Cheating II.

    In the months or even the first couple of years past puberty the world is a mystic adventure colored by yeasty hormones.  The soul is seared by the intense sense of becoming,  a feeling we spend the rest of our lives trying to recapture.  Moreover, whatever parts of the environment imprint themselves upon us during this period are forever associated with the magic. And forever sought out.  One of the clearest associations I have from that part of my life is a man named Jean Shepherd.

    Jean Shepherd is this great humorist.  Or maybe he's a storyteller.  Or sage.  Or playwright, actor, radio personality?  When I was attending Roxbury High School in Succasunna, New Jersey, Shep was on the radio:  WOR, four hours on Sunday nights.

    The newspapers used to list him as a diskjockey, but they stopped after a while because he almost never played records.  He'd just talk.  Weaving wonderful threads around seemingly mundane events--always with a fishhook of truth imbedded where you never saw it.  But you'd sure feel it!

    He was the first author I ever experienced who spoke with honesty and clarity about things I understood and cared about.  Like the strange things he'd say about New Jersey.  About how it didn't really exist.  Was just a legendary place.  I am living in New Jersey.  I vibrated to his satire.  He even talked about how the light at the end of the tunnel everybody talks about IS New Jersey!

    Hypocrisy showed up in stark contrast to his truthful wit.  Like Holden Caulfield, Shep has a keen eye for phoniness.  And he communicated to my friends and to me a whole new way to see our New Jersey world and the place in it we were beginning to create for ourselves.  We would sit, every Sunday, nobody talking for the four hours Shep was wailing.  He talked about his childhood, or teen years, or recent experiences all of which worked as wonderful metaphors for the dumbness of those Happy Days of atom bomb drills and the crawling empty wasteland being carved out by TV.

    You might know his work.  "A Christmas Story"?  It's this great movie about a kid who wanted a bb-gun even if he had to risk shooting his eye out.  The movie is a collection of stories, mostly from his book, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.  Shep did the voice over narration.  He's the guy with a beard who makes the kid-hero go to the back of the line.  Do you remember that scene?  Do you remember how many times somebody chased you to the back of the line...?

    Shep remembers.  And he stayed with me all these years helping me to remember!

    I love reading his stories to my classes.  His voice is so clear.  I could easily fall into his cadence remembering that WOR sound whom Marshall McLuan called "the first radio novelist."    I can also easily fall into his voice in my own writing.  Usually I try to be my own voice.  But sometimes...sometimes I get a faint inkling of that old mystic magic of kidhood, the unhealable wound, and I indulge the impulse.  I allow my memories and phrasings to merge with Shepherd's.

    When I wrote "How I Stopped Worrying About Failing Grades and Learned to Love the Writing Process"  I did so with malice aforethought.  This would be my Shepherd piece.  I originally had intentions of giving Shep his due.  I would acknowledge the fact that the article really had its roots in those long Sunday evenings listening to him.  But then I thought, "Nah...Nobody'll notice; I can get by, I'll fake it."  And so I wrote about being a phony in high school.  Being a phony is a major theme of Shepherd.

    After the piece was published in the Northern Virginia Writing Project Newsletter a friend wrote me a note.  "This is great, " she said "You should read 'Lost at C' by Jean Shepherd.  You sound a lot like him."

    I chuckled evilly, privately.  If she only knew...If she only knew...

    How I Stopped Worrying About Failing Grades and Learned to Love the Writing Process

                                                    Parables From the Life
Of                                                        Vic Kryston

From: "Aram Grayson"
To: Jim Sadur
Date: Sat, 6 Jun 1998 10:07:11 -0700

My name is Aram Grayson. I'm 63. I got out of the army in 1954. I lived in Mount Vernon, NY. I believe this is when I first started listening to Jean Shepherd's all-night radio program ( 7 days a week, sustaining). He said it was cheaper for the station to give him free time than to shut the station down for the night. I followed him for what seems like forever. When I wasn't at school (NYU engineering), I was driving a cab all night. He would always be on the car radio. My fares would listen and ask What the hell is that? I was at the Wannamaker Mill, the kite flying thing and a mid-night preview of John Casavetes' (sp?) film The Edge of the City (or something like that)  in Sheridan Square in the Village. His voice has always been playing in the background all these years even though I've lost contact with him. The only work which I see often is Christmas Story. I showed it to my girl friend. She was immediately a fan. He apparently is still alive. That's good. I hope he is recognized for the genius that he is.

From: "jamabr"
To: Jim Sadur
Date: Sat, 13 Jun 1998 10:56:21 -0400

Many years ago I worked for a small Florida radio station(WAPR-1390 AM). Jean was the grand marshall that year for a antique car caravan that travelled from somewhere in north Florida to somewhere in south Florida.  I think it was sponsored by the Mackle family.  The caravan stopped by our little station on Sunday afternoon during my airtime and I interviewd Jean Shepherd "live" on the air for several minutes.  It was only years later that I came to realize that I had interviewed a legend.

From: PFoote3300
Date: Sun, 14 Jun 1998 00:33:24 EDT
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Hurling invectives

When Shep was on wor, part of his show was getting listeners to literally put their radios on a windowsill or in a window, (he would give you time/ silence to physically do so) and then he would say something like "hey YOU over there! what are you doing in that alley?" or whatever he had for the moment. He called this "hurling invectives" and seemed intended to be a silly way to intimidate and /or entertain the rest of the world out there. It was one of the things i liked best about Jeans' show when i was a teenager.

Date: Sat, 04 Jul 1998 21:25:18 +0200
From: William Braun
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Tell me it ain't so...

You can NOT imagine the thrill I got from your Shep website. My old man (a familiar turn of phrase for any Shep aficiando...) was a rabid fan all throughout the WOR times and rarely missed a radio show. Whenever Shep had one of his appearances in the tri-state area, the whole family roared off to see him. My old man gradually infected me (I have all of Shep's books - two of them autographed by The Man himself ..Excelsior! Jean - and I still pick them up occasionally). I was pleased to see that someone else taped some of Jean's shows. We also had the Dago Bomb episode on reel-to-reel, along with several versions of losing Ernie and the last sounds were his dog tags...

My old man died in 1987, but he sure did love those WOR radio shows. Jean - if you read this, thanks for bringing so much fun to so many lives...

From: "Vincent R. Sullivan"
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: 1965
Date: Mon, 6 Jul 1998 03:19:44 -0400

Hello, Mr. Sadur

I just want to thank you for the website on Jean Shepard.  Most particularly his date of birth and mailing address.  I listened to him from 1965 to 1970 when I should have been doing my homework.  He was a 44 year old man at that time diverting the attention of a 14 year old high school student.  Max Schmid has renewed my interest and gotten me hooked again.  Now I have a chance to see things in a different perspective; I should have done my homework before I listened to Shep.  If I did I could have gone on to college instead of going to work for Nabisco.  Tomorrow I'm the Fig Newton Man in the mixing department on 2nd shift in Fairlawn, NJ.  They have a new system, tomorrow I'll make BOTH the dough and jam.

Well, thank you again.  Now I'm going to write a letter and give J. Parker Shepard a piece of my mind too.

Yours truly,
th' hip gam

From: Bob Camfiord
Date: Sun, 26 Jul 1998 13:21:05 -0400 (EDT)
To: bkaye@spacelab.net, Jim Sadur, mschmid@oldtimeradio.com
Subject: Fwd: Jean Shepherd

I just sent this message to a jazz list that I subscribe to: thought you might be interested.

Take Care,

PS- Max, I love the tapes you sent me. Some of them hold particular significance...I heard them on the original broadcast: talk about deja-vu. (sp?)

My apologies to anyone who might think this post a little too much of a stretch. I'm hoping that maybe Bert Whitford, Jim Brown, Bob Strickland and others might not.

Today is the 76th birthday of Jean Shepherd: one of the great humorists and social commentators of the 20th Century. I don't say that lightly. His broadcasts over the clear channel WOR-AM (710 on your dial) during the 50s and later on FM are radio classics. I was one of his fortunate listeners and still get a belly-laugh out of his great stories of growing up in Hammond, Indiana (maybe that's on the west-coast of some river). He had a nightly show that to this day still has an enormous following. There are three or four web-sites devoted to him...check them out to find out what I mean.

Jean is a true lover of jazz and was a constant favorite of musicians. They knew where he was coming from and likewise. Put on Charlie Mingus's "The Clown"...the narrator is Shepherd. Ask your kids if they know a movie called "A Christmas Story" or maybe you know it yourself. Blockbuster rates its popularity in the top three with "Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th St." in holiday films. Anyway, that's a Shepherd story and it's Shepherd, again, narrating. PBS also dramatized some of his stories and, in print form, there are collections, I admit to being a fanatic on Shep...he's a national treasure . Happy Birthday Jean.

Bob Camfiord
Clifton, Virginia

From: John B. Grosh
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Jean Shepherd
Date: Wed, 02 Sep 1998 01:50:50 GMT

I just found the letter from Carl T Erickson in Volume 6 dated, Thu, 26 Dec 1996 17:08:02 -0800, which I had missed until now. I'll pass along my letter to him in the hopes that some of you can fill in some gaps for us about Shep in Philly in the early 50's.


It was a pleasure to hear from the only other relic that seems to have heard Jean Shepherd in the early 50's while he was on KYW 1060 in Philly.

This is to confirm that you are not imagining that period. I've forgotten many things about that time, for instance I know he broadcast from the "beautiful" xxxx room of the hotel ???? He didn't seem to be very enamored of the hotel or the room but once the nostalgic meander got underway neither he nor I ever thought about the room until sign off.

I also forget exactly which years I heard him at KYW and what his broadcast history  was around that time. I sort of remember him disappearing from KYW without a trace and then one night many months later, in a desperate search of the dial for /anything/ to listen to THERE WAS SHEP!

He was on a station that skipped in from Cleveland or maybe Cincinnati. If I remember correctly the format was really ugly, I don't know if it was schlock DJ but it was a waste of MY Shepherd and I was highly incensed. When the ionosphere was right I could get him but it wasn't often.
B In 53 I was drafted and lost track until I came back to PA in 55 and soon after that I found our guy on WOR.

(I think I'll copy this letter and post it to the jsadur "Tales of Shepherd" sit. I sent an earlier one where I reminisced about some of the Shep tales from those days.)

Carl, thanks for sending your memories. Shep has a lot to do with my very strange sense of humor. And I've properly trained my children to recognize Ralphieness and Randyness and Blatz Beer cans, the most valuable lessons I could have passed on.

John B. Grosh

From: "Carl T. Erickson"
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Anecdote from 1952
Date: Mon, 7 Sep 1998 00:50:39 -0500

In 1951, I was an announcer at CBE-Windsor, a station on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation network in Windsor, Ontario, across the river south of   Detroit.  From 11:00 p.m. till 1:00 a.m., I would pick up Jean Shepherd from Cincinnati and even though I had to be up and alive by 5:00 a.m. to put the station on the air, I would never fail to catch Jean's broadcast each evening.  In those days, tape recorders were not prevalent (though we had two of them at the station--but mounted and immobile), so I was unable to tape any of the programmes.  Nevertheless, I did enjoy the programmes each evening.  I believe I used to hear him on WLW in Cincinnati.  And then Shep moved to Philadelphia where, again, I was able to pick him up late in the evening on KYW. This stay didn't last too long because he was replaced in a short while by a young lady who appropriately was called Kay Wylie!!  I introduced a friend of mine (our station's news editor) to Shep on the radio and he described his talk as a sort of exercise in stream of consciousness.  I wrote to Shep at that time, just for the heck of it and received a very pleasant and lengthy letter in reply.  Alas, I didn't keep it--a fact I regret today.  The format of each programme was the same: the "Bahn Frei Polka" played by a symhony orchestra which fades down for Shep to come in on top with a patter about " . . .and there he comes, etc. with a sign saying "Have tux, will travel. Will not follow dog acts.  Will not follow seal acts . . . " and then his chat would begin.  To be honest with you, I don't remember if he ever did play any other music on the broadcast.  I can't remember any (not after 45 years). I remember one story dealt with his youth when the father of a neighbour-friend had a genuine Sopwith Camel in his backyard and he would go over just to see the aircraft.  I'm sorry this isn't much of a story, but it seems to push Shep's activity back a few more years than you have listed in your bibliographies.

Carl T. Erickson

From: Bill Forstchen
Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998 20:50:13 EDT
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Shepherd story

In 1984 I had a home built on the banks of Snow Pond, near Waterville Maine. Since childhood I was a Jean fan, my old man introducing me to him on WOR.  In the evening we would sit by the radio, sharing a bottle of Iron City beer and laugh hysterically for 45 minutes.   Jean became an inspiration to try writing (I've had over 25 novels published) and while building my home I one day picked up a copy of one of Jean's books and discovered that it was copyrighted by "snow pond productions."   Well that started the wheels turning, remembering Jean once doing a tv program that mentioned vacationing in Maine. I started some exploring along the shore of my lake and finally discovered that Jean had a summer place less than a hundred yards away.

So I waited until I finally saw a car with Jersey license plates, worked up my courage, took a copy of my first novel, (and all of Jean's books) and walked down to introduce myself as a loyal fan.   Leigh answered the door, I introduced myself as a neighbor, fan of Jean Shepherd's and heard that he lived there.   Leigh's eyes went wide with fear and she actually backed up. She stutterred out a response that she had never heard of him.   I didn't know what to say or do, and the situation was made even more embarassing since I could see Jean out on the deck, remarkably with a pile of his books which had just been sent to him for autographs.   Not wanting to intrude and feeling very embarassed I backed away, forced my own book into Leigh's hands, saying it was a gift from a neighbor, and very dejected started to walk away.  I was half way up the drive when I heard that most recognizable of voices shout, "hey kid, come here!"

I turned and there was Jean on the porch waving me back.   He was a bit embarassed and explained that the previous year a lunatic had come to their home in new jersey. . .and attacked him!   Their vacation home in Maine was suppose to be a well kept secret and when I as a stranger appeared, (I'm nearly six and a half feet tall and in fairly good shape) well Leigh and Jean were downright frightened for a moment.    I was invited in, there was nervous laughter all around, Jean pulled out a couple of beers and we talked writing for at least two hours.   As a first time published writer he gave me loads of advice I still carry, but the wondrous thing was just sitting and talking with a hero of the profession.   Rather prophetically he said that someday a crazy might show up at my home and then I'd know why they were spooked.   Well it wasn't my home, it was my office, a total wacko who scared the hell out of me but inside I was almost laughing, remembering Jean and myself.

Well that's about it.  Nothing really major or exciting in the usual sense. Just a wonderful memory of a summer afternoon in Maine, drinking a beer with Jean Shepherd. . .and know that my old man was damn proud that his kid had made it to such august company!

Bill Forstchen

From: "Neil Newton"
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: small shepard story
Date: Thu, 01 Oct 1998 12:52:12 PDT

I don't know if this is an "epic" enough Jean Shepard story but:

   I saw Jean speak for two hours at Brooklyn Polytechnic. This was in the early seventies. He brought out a Jews Harp and showed it to the audience. By that time, I was a big Shepard Fan and had a number of his books and several Jews Harps. He asked the audience if they new about it.

   I raised my hand and told him and the audience what it was. He then went on to describe the instrument and how it was used. He played it for a short time and then, erroneously said that they were made in Ireland. I corrected him and said (I think) England was where they were made.

   He stopped, fixed me with his gaze, grunted and said, "Every audience has a smart-assed kid!"

   In any case, I thank you for immortalizing Jean Shepard and I'll continue to check out your web page.

Take care,
Neil Newton

From: Sue Trainor
Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 15:06:11 EDT
To: Jim Sadur, et al.
Subject: Author located for "The Bear Missed the Train"

Persistence pays off! Here's the story!
The note is from Joe Hanchrow, tuba player for the Smith Street Society Jazz Band.

The Smith Street Society Jazz Band goes back to the early 1960s in New York City (actually the band started in Baldwin, Long Island - the location of Smith Street). The name came about because they suddenly had a place to play but had no name. The location was on the corner of Smith Street and Grand Avenue. The rest, as they say, is history. Sometime around 1964, one of the musicians made an off-handed remark about "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen", calling it The Bear Missed The Train. Within minutes, the tune was written and performed. Our first album was recorded in 1973, and we included The Bear. Several radio personalities picked up on it; Jean Shephard and Al "Jazzbo" Collins. Jazzbo used it as his theme on his nightly jazz show in San Francisco, and Jean played his kazoo along with it almost every night on his radio show on WOR in New York. One day, Jean called us and invited us on his TV show. That was a hoot! Then, Jazzbo came to NYC and had a nightly jazz show on WNEW-AM. We were on his show many times, and often played for WNEW functions. Time marches on - Jean Shephard is retired and lives in Florida, and Jazzbo passed away last year. WNEW-AM is now WQEW. We're still playing albeit with somewhat less hair, and somewhat more girth. The melody to Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen is an old folk song probably never copyrighted. The lyrics to Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen are copyrighted. The Smith Street Society Jazz Band owns the copyright to The Bear lyrics (such as they are).

From: Jeff Doranz
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 02:50:07 EST
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Jean Shepherd--a thank you

Please convey to Mr. Shepherd my warmest appreciation for keeping this once lonely kid from Trenton, NJ in such splendid company during so many long and otherwise dreary nights.  I would drift off to sleep listening to him, but no before I would "join" him and his buddies in their Indiana frolics.

Ironically, my first real visit to the Hoosier State was when I was on active duty as an Army officer, stationed at Fort Benjamin Harrison in picturesque FORTVILLE Indiana, and was later assigned to signal corps units (another one of Jean's genre of stories).

And while by no means, intending to enter a parallel universe with Jean--I did nevertheless manage to secure -- as an opening gambit in the world of employment--- a job as a sportswriter for the Trenton Trentonian newspaper.
Sadly, soon thereafter my life changed for the worse -- I went to law school on the GI Bill (fast forward) became Deputy Attorney General of New Jersey, and then life as I once knew it plunged totally into the crapper as I went to Washington, DC to become Counsel to the United States Senate (during the black period in the Nation's Capital known as Watergatus Dementia).

But let Mr. Shepherd know I have since reformed and rehabilitated myself as for the past 15 years I have been the proprietor of "Jeff's Baseball Corner" -- a little hole in the hole establishment which is now the largest sports book store in the country.

Belatedly, I just wanted to thank Mr. Shepherd for making it possible for me to find my lost moral compass (although I have yet to find my lost Captain Midnight Secret Decoder Ring -- even though the damn message --notwithstanding my later Top Secret Cryptic security -- always ciphered in part "DRINK OVALTINE ---which by the way I subsequently NEVER have, fearing I think, a subliminal "Manchurian Candidate" effect. if I ever did swallow the stuff.

Again, wish Jean for me, many more years of contentment, and to the extent he wishes--to continue entertaining "kids of all ages."

Jeff Doranz

Date: Tue, 03 Nov 1998 15:37:30 -0500
From: Steven Hager
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: listening on the Zenith Cobra

I recall as do the thousandsa of others listed here, after John Nebels, "Red Sails in the Sunset" came the bugel call that started Jeans 45 minutes of Mayhem. My brother Howard and I would listen on our old Zenith phono-radio, we had to tune it bu reaching into the metal grid that we peeled back to get to the tuning dial as the cord had rotted away years before. Probabily because of Jean Shepard, both of us got our ham radio licenses, mine WA2UBY, Howards WA2DLT/PR4 (he's the president of a company in PR). I still can hear the hetrodyne (side noise inetference of a station close in frequency to WOR). our other faverit was Zackerly on WOR TV, only to find he was really my junior high school shop teacher during the day, only Jean became a legend. My mother used to take his shows in the late 60's for me and mail them to Viet Nam where I gave them away to my friends (foolishly) after I listened to them. Jean if you ever see this...your still the wind under our wings, maybe a little less breeze force..but this the wind.  co'mon back the workd needs you

73,s Steve, WA2UBY

Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 16:23:00 -0500
From: Ed Fagan
To: Jim Sadur


My name is Ed Fagan.  I am a long time fan of Shep.  I spent many a night, in high school during the early 70's listening to him in my bedroom.

During my sophomore or junior year in high school (I forget which), I attended a special student press conference for the launching of "Jean Shepherd's America" in NYC. 

Ed Fagan

Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 12:59:03 -0500
From: Steven Minnerly
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: just a phase

I believe one reason why he shys away from to much identification with radio is because people in radio are considered to be at the bottom of the food chain in the entertainment industry. They just don't get the recognition they deserve. You can be cranking out top quality radio and be much less well known than than some no-talent in a fifth rate sit-com on TV. This is just my theory though.


Date: 17 Nov 98 09:49:15 +0000
From: Brian Nelson
To: Jim Sadur

Hi Jim!

Just finished Tales of the Shep, inclusive, and have to say, first off, THANKS and a hearty handclasp for my favorite web site. I grew up and still live in Worcester, Mass., New England's secong largest city and often referred to as the region's utility closet. It's an industrial city not unlike Hammond, wire mills, abrasives factories, and all. My father worked in one such abrasives factory and grew up wanting a BB gun, seeing horror movies at the neighborhood house—all the elements of a Shepherdian upbringing. So I'm 15 and tune in to JEAN SHEPHERD'S AMERICA for the first time, not knowing what to expect, and here's this madman at a steel mill cackling demonically! "COME—JOIN ME!! AHHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!" Thirty minutes later, I'm a fan for life. I take out IN GOD WE TRUST from the local library, get gassed from the first story on, and them let my dad read it (he wondered what the noise was all about). He brings in to work on the night shift and reads the Red Ryder story, and falls off the stool at the line "YOU'LL SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT!" That's what his mother told HIM! To wrap it up, Shep conquered the entire household. No other humorist hits home for me, literally, as Shep. I'll be checking in again, Jim, and my thanks again to you and Shep.

Brian Nelson

Date: Sat, 21 Nov 1998 11:46:02 -0800
To: Jim Sadur
From: The Gelbards
Subject: Shep

I grew up in NY in the 50s and 60s and I just discovered that a good friend of mine here in Oregon likes Jean Shepard.  Years ago, a friend and I used to hang out in the vestibule of the building where WOR was (1440 Broadway, I think) and wait for him about 1964 or so.  We never connected with him and were too young to get into the Limelight.  In fact, one cold night we were sitting in the vestibule and these two nasty looking guys came in and started hassling us about why we were there.  One was fat and greasy, the other thin, pockmarked and mean looking.  These were cops, the good guys! They were concerned, so they said, about robberies of Western Union offices (there was one next to the hallway of the building.)  I don't think we went back.  I listened to Shep under the covers and was inspired by his show where he read from On the Road when Kerouac died.  I read several Kerouac books and hitchhiked across large parts of the country, being open to what the road offered (now I am a school administrator).

Of course, Garrison Keillor has achieved much fame through public radio. And while he is great, I believe that Shep was the original (at least for me) radio story teller of consumate skill and humor.  I have an old LP of his somewhere and I'll have to dig it out and see if it works.

Your website is great and I've enjoyed this day after my 51st birthday a lot due to it.  I'm going to order some tapes from Mr. Schmid for my friend who set off this Internet search to begin with.

Is there somewhere to write to Shep?  Keep up the good work.

From: Bob David
Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 21:16:31 -0800
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Emu (the bottom of the bird barrel)

Are you familiar with the show in which Shep read a letter from a young woman who recalled her experience dressing up as an emu?  I have no idea if it's famous or forgotten.  It was at least a bit unusual for him in that he was, in a sense, doing someone else's material.  It was a hilarious story that I've never forgotten.  If it rings a bell with you, would you know if it's available on any of the Schmidco tapes?  I haven't the faintest idea of when I heard it. That far back, the years just kind of blend together.

This is a fabulous site.  I had no idea there were so many old fans out there.

Keep your knees loose.

Bob David
San Rafael, California

From: Michael Pompa
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Shep
Date: Fri, 27 Nov 1998 07:32:52 -0500

     I was astounded at the Shep Web site.

I first picked his show (remember his theme song, Cleartrack Polka, I think) one night in late 1960 from WOR in my bedroom in Baltimore when I should have been doing my homework, and the addiction began..........

I think I still have my copy of I, Libertine in my basement, and if I can ever dredge up my courage to go look for, along with a good size big game rifle, I'm going to look for it........ 

Bless you all for you great stuff, I only wish I could contribute something....

thanks again

Date: Sat, 28 Nov 1998 11:14:21 -0700
From: Craig White
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: original broadcast times

Jim -

       Many thanks for putting together your excellent Jean Shepherd page, which I only just discovered a few days ago. I've been trying to write a very informal series of essays (much too grand a term - more like ramblings) about growing up in the 50's in suburban NY and was puzzling over exactly when I first discovered Jean Shepherd's radio show. I know it was on Sunday nights on WOR, maybe from 9:00 to midnight, but I'm not too sure about that. I do know that my parents were not happy about my staying up so late on a school night so I had to pretend to go to sleep and then turn the radio on very low. I actually taped a number of these shows to listen to later, but, alas, the tapes are long gone. Anyway, do you know where I can find a list giving the days and times of Shep's various radio programs in the late 50's. What years, if any, did he do a weekly Sunday night show.

        Thanks for the help. Keep up the good work - it was a real pleasure to find your web site and to realize that there are so many Shep fans still out there.

                        Craig White

From: Pete Pohlig
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 19:27:53 EST
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Another Shep Fan

I enjoyed your Jean Shepherd home page. I have been a fan since the early 70s and have about 20 recordings I made in 1974 of his WOR radio show. I enjoy listening to them now and then, even though the quality is not so hot (a lot of fading during the summer evenings). I also have a signed "award" that he sent out for correctly knowing what BVD stood for. I think Shep is the best. Can you still purchase his records?

Pete Pohlig

Date: 18 Dec 98 13:41:57 EST
From: Douglas D Ditzel
Subject: Shep
To: Jim Sadur

I was blown away to stumble across a site on Jean Shepard, a name that brings back many fond memories. I still remember that sultry summer evening driving back from a fishing trip to the Jersey shore when my dad flicked on the radio in our '52 Buick to listen to Jean. I was mesmerized - I couldn't believe anyone on the radio could be so entertaining!  From that night on, I was a fan - tuning in to his WOR show whenever I had the chance. I do remember his live broadcasts from the Limelight (probably the early 60's?) In the 70's my wife and I were fortunate enough to see Shep live at an Ocean County College (NJ) performance. I caught his PBS TV show several times, but Shep seemed to loose someting of his magic on the medium of tv. I 've often thought it would be wonderful if the great radio storyteller of today, Garrison Keillor, could bring Shep onto his show.

From: Phil Milazzo
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Wow!
Date: Wed, 23 Dec 1998 15:29:15 -0500

In a spare moment, I searched for "Jean P. Shepherd" and got a hit on your page. I was a faithful listener at 10:15 each weeknight and 10:05 Saturdays, I think. Met Shep in person at a Fairleigh Dickinson show and a book signing in the 70's.

His influence helped me into ham radio, flying and collecting George Ade. I own an autographed first edition of Ade's second collection, "More Fables" and five or six other volumes dated up to 1920.

I was born and raised in Paterson, NJ (De Paul High, class of 1970) and licensed in San Diego in 1990. I was tickled to read the sidebar about K2ORS in one of the ARRL books when I got licensed.

Happy Holidays and 73,

Phil Milazzo
Marietta, GA

From: Buzz Daly
Date: Fri, 25 Dec 1998 02:37:49 EST
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: shep

During the winter of 1968-69, when i was an editor for a publishing company that produced consumer pubs, including baseball & football, I went on a junket--the invite was for my boss, but was passed to me, whose absence for a few days was more tolerable-- to Cypress Gardens, Florida, sponsored by that city, Johnson Motors and Kodak. The guest list included primarily media and press people, ie, a producer for ABC-TV's Wide World of Sports...and Jean Shepherd.

My first  intro to Jean came  as a teen ager in the mid-1950s, when my family moved to New Jersey from Ohio, and I heard him on the radio. That first time was an epiphany, and I was hooked. So finding myself on a junket with him made an otherwise moderately interesting exerpience, into something infinitely more memorable. As an obviously junior person in the company of media execs, I managed to be on the fringe of some conversations he was engaged in, but was too flustered to chime in. I remember skeet shooting was one of the activities, and Jean was pretty good.

But the most indelible remembrance. of that time was Jean's off-the-cuff address to the junket group at a luncheon. His observations, anecdotes, etc. of the trip (we had flown out of New York on a small plane that seemed to take forever to get to Florida, and it was a bumpy trip) were vintage Shep, and a stunning example of his uniqueness.

It's not often we get to meet our heroes. And they don't always live up to our expectations. In person, Jean was just as delightfully wry,quirky, observant and genuine as I would have expected. When I was a kid, I thought he was the most extraordinary person I had ever heard. More than 40 years later, I feel the same way. I'm delighted that so many others recognize  his wonderful qualities. As a teen ager, it seemed that Jean was something of a hidden resource.

Buzz Daly

Date: Sat, 26 Dec 1998 19:32:16 -0800
From: Chuck Guzis
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Sonofagun!  A Jean Shepherd page!


You're not going to believe this but I stumbled on this page while doing a web search trying to determine if Warren G. Harding played the tuba.  Well, I still don't know.  But anyway...

I first heard Jean Shepherd when I was a kid sometime in the early 60's while listening to the "Midnight Special" Saturday evening variety program on WFMT in Chicago. If memory serves, it was roughly the same time that Frankie Yankovic's "Who Stole the Kishka" hit the local charts. I lived in Hammond; Hessville to be exact, about a mile from Jean's old home on Cleveland and only a couple of blocks from Warren G. Harding School.  My sisters attended there, I went to parochial school (Our Lady of Perpetual Help).  And I worked at Inland Steel while I was going to college and went to Oliver P. Morton High School (the old one) and I had a Flick in my class.

Very few people in Hammond, let alone Hessville (the gateway to Black Oak and Greater Gary) had ever heard of Jean and most of the ones who had didn't think he was very funny.  Too close to home, I guess. 

You really have to understand what Hessville was like back then, I suppose. Swamps and railroad tracks.  On the east side, through the swamps, a garbage dump.  The smell of refineries (Anybody remember the Standard Oil fire in the 50's?) in the air; at night you could see the glow from the blast furnaces in East Chicago and Gary. Incredible red sunrises from pollution.  Mosquitoes during the humid summer like you wouldn't believe.

Hessville/Hammond boasted a large immigrant population; Pole, Slovak, Lithuanian and Bohemian mostly.  You got a little suspicious if someone actually had a name like "Smith" or "Jones".

Well, the swamps and garbage dump have been developed into tract housing; the sandy swampland along the railroad tracks where my childhood friends and I used to dig "forts" in the sand is now some sort of state park, complete with interpretive center.  I haven't lived there in decades, but Jean's stories keep the memories fresh in my mind.  Or maybe it's just hallucinations caused by brain damange from riding my bike in the DDT cloud that issued from the rear of the "municipal mosquito abatement" trucks. 

Here's one for you--my high school biology teacher simultaneously headed the DDT-spraying abatement project during the summer and taught the "Green" BSCS Biology-with-a-focus-on-ecology course duing the school year...

Sigh.  The smell of a rotten egg still reminds me of childhood and home...

Thanks for a great site.  Now, if only someone could tell me if Harding played the tuba...

Eugene, OR

From: Dan Chandler
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: Jean Shepherd
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 00:15:44 -0500


I am 51 years of age and a high school principal. My friends and I became huge Shep aficionados circa 1965-66. In our neighborhood we had a strange hermit/grouch type of person and we would stand outside of his house at 2 in the AM and scream..."Excelsior...you fat head!!!"...it was not easy explaining this to my father when the cops got us one night...We traveled to the Limelight from Phila one night and Shep was not there...later a friend went and got to speak to him. When he explained our escapades with the strange neighbor, Shep stared at him and replied..."In a Pig's ear!!"...that was it.

    I had a hard bound of In God We Trust...in the 60's, but like everybody's baseball card story, while I was away at college, my Mom got rid of a lot of my books...I am amazed at how many people think they are on to something with The Xmas Story...I read about this stuff over 30 years ago and have had a copy of the video since the mid 80's....my kids have memorized the script as well as the Ollie Hopnoodle video copied from TV. Shep's the best...Thanks for being on the net...I was the principal at Montoursville HS when the TWA Flight 800 tragedy occurred. I remain as big a fan now as in days of yesteryear.

Dan Chandler

Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 16:37:00 -0500
From: Heather Borrero
To: Jim Sadur

Dear Jim,

I was thinking about Jean Shepherd the other day and realized I hadn't seen his Christmas movie this year. Fortunately, I had purchased it several years ago for my father, an avid Jean Shepherd fan. We listened to him every night on WOR radio in NYC. We didn't have a TV, but this was often better. Due to one of Jean's late night shows about those stupid gazing balls people have on their front lawns, as soon as my parents moved to PA and had a patch of grass, they planted a green one out front. We still don't know what the purpose is to have one, but my Dad felt if it pissed off the neighbors it was worth it!

Thanks for keeping Jean Shepherd alive and well.

Date: Sun, 03 Jan 1999 00:14:20 -0600
From: Brian Pearson
To: Jim Sadur
Subject: You'll love this...The Bumpus's still exsist!

Jim & Bob...

Greetings from Blizzard struck (20+ inches on the ground) NW Indiana. It's 11:59 pm and the sky is bright gray...and it's not from the steel mill dust! I've wrote you before, my father grew up (4 doors down) on Cleveland Street and attended Warren G. Harding school. They also live part-time on Sanibel Island as does our favorite humorist. This ran in our local paper today and I had to send it to the both of you. I think your Shep followers will consider it a classic and prove to many...that though some of Shep's work may be part fiction ALOT of it hold's some valid truth. Jean just won't fess up to it. Long live the Bumpus's!

Brian Pearson
Highland, Indiana
5 miles south of "Hohman"...aka Hammond

Previous Home

Do you have stories, anecdotes or trivia for this page?

Send them to: jsadur@keyflux.com
Thanks, Jim

Return to the Jean Shepherd Page

Copyright © 1999 James E. Sadur.