Tales of the Shep

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

Volume 5

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Date: Wed, 09 Oct 1996 10:07:44 -0400
From: Mark Schaffer <MSCHAFFE@hdqgw.osmre.gov>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Shepard on TV In the fifties

I've been enjoying your Shep page and have a neato Shepard trivia fact. In 1959 or so, I was reading a TV Guide for what was on Friday night. I was about 11 or so. I'll never forget it because it had to be karma. In the Guide it said the follwing, and I quote from memory:

Friday 9:30 P.M. - WOR - Jean Shepard - Jean Shepard talks about anything that comes into his head.

Well, with a promotion like that I had to check it out. So at 9:30 P.M. I tuned in and was exposed to what would become my first of many encounters with this remarkable character. Standing on a dark stage, this casually dressed man proceeded to fill my adolescent brain with all manner of humorous observations I didn't get. But it was different than anything I ever saw on the tube. Very weird, this man laughing sinisterly at his own cleverness. Anyway, it wasn't until 1962 or so that I discovered Shepard on WOR and was about ready for his gentle subversion of my already shaken suburban values. The rest is familiar to any true Shep fan of the early 60s - the senese that you had tapped into a special unknown world, the knowing greeting of another Shep follower, the kazoo in the back pocket, the uttering of inane platitiudes - Keep Your Knees Loose, Its all pap and a yard wide. Ahh. Takes me back to my misspent youth. You know what would be cool? A Shep trivia contest. Well, give them a low silouette against the moon, gang.

Excelsior !.
The Lone Twister
Date: Wed, 09 Oct 1996 11:55:59 -0400
From: Susan Scaro <scamp3@ix.netcom.com>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: "I, Libertine"

I didn't read every word of the "Tales" so this thread may have been cleared up. Anyway, here's the scoop on "I, Libertine.":
It was a paperback original published by Ballentine and written by Shep and Theodore Sturgeon. Sturgeon was one of the great science fiction stylists. He also wrote in every genre, including historicals, weterns, etc.

My paperback price guide is in a box (I just moved) but I remember the book being fantastically vaulable. The cover is one of those goofy pseudo-historical illustrations popular on 1950s paperbacks.

Hope this helps.
Mark DiIorio
From: Alan Bartenhagen <NorthernRd@aol.com>
Date: Wed, 9 Oct 1996 16:33:49 -0400
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Shep

Hi Jim,

I just discovered your Jean Shepherd page. Wonderful job!

Regarding his theme song, back in the early 70's I called WOR to ask about his theme song, and an engineer indeed told me it was by The Boston Pops. I eventually bought a copy of the record in a local store, but unfortunately it's long gone with the wind. Any word if the album is out on CD?

Back in the mid 70's I worked at New Jersey Public Television. I was a good friend of the producer of Shepherd's Pie, though I left the station shortly before the show went into production. Although I never got the chance to meet him, I heard stories about their remote shoots and about how Shep would talk and tell stories to the crew practically non-stop all day long. I wish I could have been there.

Thanks again for all you're doing!

Alan Bartenhagen
Saratoga Springs, NY

Date: Mon, 14 Oct 1996 01:11:01 -0400
From: R. Gilchrist Delaney <gddmop@epix.net>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Jean Shepherd's military tales

On the back of the bookjacket for "A Fistful of Fig Newtons," it says that a collection of Shepherd's military stories will soon be published. My copy of "Fistful" is 12 years old, and I can't find any evidence in the bookstores that I visit that the military stories ever got published. I've read lots of them over the years in Playboy, but never seen them collected. Were they? Will they be? Any idea on their status at all? Additionally, how about the pieces he wrote for Car & Driver? Have they ever been collected? And is there an underground dealing in copies of Shep's PBS stuff? I really would like a clean copy of Great American Fourth of July, and a complete rundown on all the Jean Shepherd's America. Sorry this is so long, but I just found your page and I'm a big Shepherd fan.
Date: Tue, 22 Oct 1996 00:19:28 -0400
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
From: George Fiala <gbrook@pipeline.com>
Subject: Shep on the air in 1996

I forgot to post this here! This was printed in the NY Daily News on October 1, 1996:

By David Hinckley

One of the most elusive and revered voices of city radio made a rare, shadowy return last weekend, when Jean Shepherd sat in for an hour and a half with host Ann Ligouri and his old friend Irwin Zwilling on WFAN (660 AM).

With little advance fanfare, Shepherd sat down around 2 a.m. Saturday and started by talking baseball.

A humorist and storyteller noted for his characters and general mastery of the spoken work, Shepherd hasn't been heard regularly on New York radio for years. He devotes his time these days to writing, lecturing and "his whole wide variety of interests," says Zwilling.

"He loves radio, but he has no interest in returning to it full-time" says Zwilling. There are too many things he wants to do. That's why he left in the first place - because he needed other outlets to express himself."

What became immediately clear Saturday, however, is that gone doesn't mean forgotten.

"As soon as Jean came on," says Zwilling, "even the WFAN regulars, the guys who always talk sports, just wanted to talk about Jean Shpeherd. They'd remember bits they heard, characters they liked. They asked him to tell a story. One caller said that at the U.S. Open, he used to give copies of Jean's books to the lowers, saying the books would cheer them up."

Shepherd listeners know he's always been a passionate fan of the Yankees and baseball, but his message about the game today was mixed. "He's a purist," says Zwilling. "He doesn't like the free agency, he doesn't like the juiced up ball. He thinks they're compromising the beauty of the game he used to love. So he still sollows it, but not like he once did. He says he'll watch the Series and root for the Yankees."

Zwilling, an accountant who hosts a sports show on WGBB and occasionally guests with Ligouri, said Shepherd felt "instantly comfortable" being back on the air. "Ann has a way of creating an atmosphere that feels like three people sitting in a living room talking. He had a wonderful time."

It added up to a rare treat for people who happened to be listeneing to WFAN at 2 o'clock Saturday morning. Whether it foreshadows a similar treat for other Shepherd fans at other hours is not at all certain.

"I wouldn't speak for Jean, but I had the feeling this was a one-time thing." says Zwilling. "He loves radio, but he's happy with what he's doing now. He likes his privacy. So when he feels like doing it again, I guess he will."

I wonder if there would be some way to purchase a tape of this appearance. I was actually listening to the radio in NYC at that time, but I've been weaned away from the sports station, so I missed it!

George Fiala

Date: Wed, 30 Oct 1996 22:56:13 -0800
From: Edward C. Norton <ecnorton@cape.com>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Shep lives!

Discovered your web page on the all-time great story tellers. I discovered Shep in the mid 1950s, when he was doing the all-night gig on WOR from the Cartaret, NJ transmitter and doing unheard of things--developing "the night people" gang, setting the "Libertine" hoax in motion and hosting "mill-ins" in the Village. I met Shep in 1959 when I arranged for him to speak at our college class night, perhaps his first college speaking gig. Later, in the 60s I met him as a journalist and even did a Sunday magazine article on him. He was then miffed about the play and movie "A Thousand Clowns," which he said "stole his life." Thereafter we met at different car shows in Manhattan. Lots of performers stole his life and it should not be surprising that Hollywood producers put Tv programs and movies together that stem from the Shep's eye view of the world. I would like to copy cassette tapes of any of the old radio shows, if it's possible. Shep tried stand-up on Tv in the 50s but he was an acquired taste not a slam-bang joke a second type. Didn't work. Radio was his medium. In the 50s-60s he spoke for an entire generation of young people striving to make it in New York and he was successful. I'm sure if it was announced that he was giving a one-man performance at Carnegie Hall or Town Hall in New York, the lines to the box office would snake around the block--all those listeners now in their 40s and 50s and older who recall the yarns. What would it take to get him back to do this?
Date: Fri, 01 Nov 1996 15:33:57 -0600
From: Robert E. Tomenchok, Jr. <retjr@ix.netcom.com>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Shep on WOR

After reading through some of these posts, it motivated me to add my two cents...

I got turned on to Shep in the sixties at a pretty young age. I can remember night after night listening to WOR on my old WW II surplus shortwave set (it also had a medium wave band) that my dad and I got running. We strung up a dipole out my window and I had special permission to stay up late but HAD to turn off the radio after Shep left the air. Wow what a trip down memory lane! I remember tunes like "The Bear Missed The Train" sung to the tune of "Bie mir bis du schoen." You sure have a tough time finding entertainment like that. Although I guess that Imus in the Morning or A Prairie Home Companion are acceptable.

I've caught Shep a few times at Richardson Hall in Princeton, but as of late have been getting the dates fouled up. Is there a set weekend for his appearance?


Date: Fri, 08 Nov 1996 17:51:30 -0800
From: John Brock <jbrock@worldnet.att.net>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Jean Shepherd:


When I was a kid, living in West Virginia in the 60's used to listed\n and later, tape Jean's radio program from WOR. After I graduated from college and found myself on a lovely vacation in sunny, tropical, South Vietnam courtesy of the US Navy, those tapes were a life saver. I'd really like to get a collection of those programs. unfortunately, Jean does not return phone calls. Any suggestions ??

John Brock, K8WVH

Date: Sat, 09 Nov 1996 20:37:21 +0000
From: Mike Cohen <fun2@alans.com>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Jean Shepherd Questions

As a big Jean Shepherd fan, I have identified the following subject for further research :

1) Radio show info : When exactly did Jean's show run, and at what times, and how many has he done. As far as I can tell, he started his own show on WOR-AM in NYC in 1955, but was overnight until 1959. Then, his nightly (Mon-Fri?) show ran from 1959 to late 1976 or early 1977, with the occaisional addition to the lineup of a live show from the Limelight in 1965. I believe his nightly show was 45 minutes, from 9:15 until 10:00, including commercials. (I have checked NY Times from the period and he was not listed in the radio listings). How many shows did he event- ually do (I think around 2000). Is there any reference where one could look up a show based on topic and find out the date it was broadcast?

2) Birthdate - I have seen both 7/26/21 and 7/26/23 listed.

3) "I, Libertine" - did Shep actually get this non-existent book on the bestseller lists just by asking his readers to ask for it in stores, and did he really write a book by that name? What about the famous "milling"incident"? Any independant confirmation?

4) Why are there no biographies of Shep, and virtually no info about his private life after he left the army (i.e. places of residence, marriages, etc.)? What turned him off to radio and made him the third most reclusive celbrity in America (after Pynchon and Salinger)?

BTW, I believe the "Declassified" LP came out in 1971.
Please respond to MC446@delphi.com

Mike Cohen

From: Czechfox@aol.com
Date: Sat, 16 Nov 1996 08:04:45 -0500
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Flick lives
I was surfing and found your page. Shep helped me get through college in the late 60's. I was working during the day and going to college at night. I would be travelling home at 10pm when Shep was on the radio. I could have taken the subway, but after a long day I needed a treat so I took the bus and listened to Shep. (The transmission couldn't be picked up in the subway). His endless monologues helped me unwind. His stories helped me on course rather than give up in this cruel world. Vietman war was at its peak, and many of my friends were either fighting in Nam, crossing the border to Canada or going to Federal prison for their principles.

Flick lives ...
Date: Sun, 17 Nov 1996 22:14:05 -0500
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
From: Alan Lewis <alewis@cybernex.net@gate.cybernex.net>
Subject: Jean Shepherd

Your web site merits a brass figligee with oak leaf palm. I did not know that Shepherd appeared at Princeton. I hope you will have info on his future appearances. Does Shepherd's Gang meet periodically? I'd like to meet others to trade stories and tapes.
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 08:56:30 -0500 (EST)
From: Orbach@aol.com
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: SHEP





Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 22:29:18 -0500
From: Fred England &lcn1643@coastalnet.com>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Shep


Do you know of any private collectors of Shep's WOR radio shows and if so can they be had.

I have one that I recorded many years ago. "The Dago Bomb". I thought then and still do believe that he is one of America's true humourists and satirists.

Fred England

Date: Sun, 24 Nov 1996 18:57:56 +0500
From: J.W. <faxtrac@ix.netcom.com>
Reply-To: faxtrac@ix.netcom.com
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Jean Shephard

I seldom went to sleep as a young child in Woodbridge NJ, without putting my radio on WOR radio. Jean Shephard's stories (I didn't think of them as stories. I thought they were true. (Werent they?) He was a pure genious. I listened to his show until we moved out of the WOR area, in 1967, when I was not but about 14. I still remember his show! Thanks for this fine Home Page for a true American Legend! ( and in his own time!)

Date: Tue, 03 Dec 1996 15:27:26 -0500
From: John B. Grosh <jbgrosh@lancnews.infi.net>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Shep in Philadelphia

I haven't been so happy since I wathed the last local eclipse on the TV. Boy !!! I'm going out and getting a six pack of BLATZ beer. Some one else thinks Jean Shepard is OK.

I was surfing for refernces to Ade and got to this page from my past. (Then I remembered where I learned about Ade.)

Shep came out of the sky with messages directed specifically at me around 19 and 55. He broadcast out of the ??? room of the ??? hotel in downtown Philadelphia on, I think, KYW. I already had a taste for Dixieland and such but when he played 20's and 30's classics and then breathlessly said, "She doesn't know what she's saying to me!!!!", it gave me a new perspective on the important things in life.

I dimly remember stories about his buddy with a new HI-FI set. This buddy liked to play recordings of trains (no music). The speakers, no make that the speaker, we only just had mono then, was the end of a metal quonset hut and when the trains came round the bend the plates were knocked out of cupboards in nearby cities. He left Philly and I found him, as did most of your e-mail people, on WOR, NY, "with broadcasting studios in beautiful Carteret, New Jersey ".

I don't remember if the "I, Libertine" project started in Philadelphia or at WOR but it was truly the work of the Night People. Shep had been going to various cocktail parties and other gatherings of the literatti. He heard converations by the trend setters and the people with "real deep literary insights" where they ALL had read ALL of the current literature even before the books were published. They all had strong opinions. It just happened that these original thinkers all had the same opinion on each book. When the books finally appeared, the NY Times reviews parroted these early opinion.

So, Shep opined, reviewers either get their advanced information for the psychic waves at cocktail parties never read any book. The reviewers just take good notes at cocktail parties. Shep instructed The Night People to go to lots of cocktail parties and talk up a book named, "I, Liberitne" by that great well known broadcaster, raconteur and author, Frederick R. Ewing. The idea was to see if a serious review would appear before the book was written. I think an early review did appear, but I'm not sure. I am pretty sure Shep and Theodore Sturgeon wrote the book one weekend. The book was published by Ballantine Books and sold for 35 cents. You could get an 8.5 by 11 photo of the author, which I have proudly displayed under my desk glass for years.

I'm sorry I went on so long, but consider where I learned my craft.

Excelsior! (is a story by Thurber too)

From: Eric Ward <EWard68001@aol.com>
Date: Sun, 8 Dec 1996 13:51:38 -0500
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Jean Shepherd civil rights program.

I have been a Shep fan since the early '70's. My father told me of a broadcast he made of the civil rights bus trip to Washington, I believe in 1968. He said Shep deserved a pulitzer for this show, but I have never heard it. He doesn't remember if it was broadcast as a regular episode of the WOR program. I would greatly like to obtain a tape recording of this show or any information anyone may have.

Eric Ward
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 1996 20:19:37 -0500
From: John G. Lindsay <JGLINDSAY@worldnet.att.net>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Shep

Listening now to Christmas story. Family loves it. I used to listen to shep when he did LIVE shows at the LIMELIGHT in Greenwich Village in NY. The live shows were great! I have to find them on tape in my library somewhere...

Date: Thu, 12 Dec 1996 15:09:36 +0000
From: Rob Kleidman <r.kleidman@csu-e.csuohio.edu>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: A Shep story


I also posted this story to Bob Kaye.

A short Shep-related story, told to me by a friend (who also grew up listening to Shep). He and a friend were travelling through Indiana and stopped off in Hammond. Somehow they came upon a bar names Flick's. Of course they had to check it out. They sat down and ordered from the bartender, and then asked him "Are you the Flick that Jean Shepherd talks about?". In his best gruff-bartender voice and manner, he walked off muttering "More goddamned New Yorkers!". They never got a straight answer from him.

Rob Kleidman
Robert Kleidman
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Cleveland State University, Cleveland OH 44115
(216)687-9203; Fax: (216)687-9314
e-mail: r.kleidman@csu-e.csuohio.edu

From: Frank Dailey <FRANKD@MIAMEDIA.COM>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Shepherd's Pie TV Coo-Coo
Date: Thu, 19 Dec 1996 16:00:42 -0500

Wonderful page...brought back lots of fond memories. During the run of Shepherd's Pie, they humorously offered certification as a "TV Coo-Coo." Little did they (Shep/NJPBS) know they they would be deluged with requests. So they stalled everyone and hastily drafted a handsome piece of parchment (classy) and sent them out to everyone who wrote in. Now roughly 20 years later, I proudly include as E-mail attachment my copy. Hope you get a kick out of it and feel free to use on your site if you deem appropos.

Frank Dailey

Editor's Note:
I have placed a link to this interesting document on the main page. It is a great piece of Shep memorabilia! Thanks Frank!

Date: Sat, 21 Dec 1996 01:37:22 -0800
From: David Hoose <dhoose@bu.edu>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Jean Shepherd WOR broadcasts

Dear Jim:

As a radio listener who loved Jean Shepherd on WOR, I yearn to get a hold of any tapes of those shows. The books are great, the TV shows less so. It was the improvised nature of the show I loved so much.

If there are collectors who have any of these shows, is it possible to get any of them? What, if any, are the copyright restrictions.

I was checking in on your web sight just to try to find out if Shep is still with us and assume, based on no information to the contrary, that he is.

Any help you can give would be very much appreciated. Give me some leads!

David Hoose

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

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Copyright © 1996 James E. Sadur.