Tales of the Shep

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

Volume 6

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Date: Sun, 22 Dec 1996 22:11:32 -0600
From: Suzan Nyfeler <opera@flash.net>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Flick Lives

My brother and I discovered Jean Shepherd in the 70's when we were in high school. His books were great gifts during that time. We were sad when we ran out of titles. A few years ago, as a Christmas gift to my brother, I put together three binders full of Shep's magazine articles--from Car and Driver to Playboy. Had a great time doing the research (the librarian in me I guess). Spent some time a few years ago trying to get copies of the PBS series. Anyone know of extra copies lying around?

Instead of "It's a Wonderful Life" our family watches "A Christmas Story" each Christmas. We also refer to any noisy dogs as Bumpus hounds. So glad to find kindred spirits.

Suzan Nyfeler
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 1996 01:49:42 -0800
From: Larry Morris <laremorr@evansville.net>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Jean Shepherd

Mr. Sadur:

I am a high school librarian and this past week one of our English classes was in the library doing research on Indiana authors for their paper. I mentioned the name of Jean Shepherd to one of the students. Like most students he enjoyed the movie, but was unaware that its author came from Indiana. I will share your web page with the class. I actually found your site by accident. I was looking up information on the Titanic for a friend. That is the fun part of the internet -- one good link leads to another.

Larry Morris
Date: Wed, 25 Dec 1996 10:07:10 -0800
From: Peter Strauss <pstrauss@sirius.com>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Form posted HamLogbook

Used to listen to Shepherd on WOR in the late '50's, when he was on from 9 to 12 or 1 on Sunday nights. Had a friend also who worked at WOR for a while, Peter Gardiner (since deceased)...he took me up to the studio one Sunday night where I got to watch Shep in action. I'll never ever forget the cheap guitar music, or his story about the night the gondola car full of molten steel tipped over and vaporized a three-story building at the mill. Wish I could get a tape of that one...I was spellbound listening to that.

Nice that you and I can share Shep and ham radio...what a weird combo! Thanks for having the page(s) up on the 'net. Best of the holidays to you.

Peter Strauss, KO6R
Date: Wed, 25 Dec 1996 15:30:40 -0500

From: Jim Clavin <becmfg@tribeca.ios.com>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Another Shepherd fan with something to contribute

I just discovered your page a week or so ago and it was great to see that there are still Shep fans out there. I have "Ollie Hopnoodles Haven of Bliss" and "The Great American 4th of July and Other Disasters" on VHS. These were recorded many years ago when VHS recorders had only 1 head! The quality is fair to good. I also have 23 of his WOR shows and an audio copy of "The Three Worlds of Jean Shepherd" a PBS half hour special. All this is on reel to reel and I am in the process of transfering them to cassettes. I am documenting all the shows and their topics. If your are interested, I will send a listing when completed.

Other trivia on hand - Car and Driver articles, Playboy Magazine stories, a 1981 TV Guide story by Shep. I will list these all.

I have one other VHS tape which has been misplaced. I know it has Shepherd on it but I am not sure whether it was another PBS movie or some of his half hour 'America' or 'Pie' shows.

I really enjoyed seeing your page and look forward to seeing it grow and finding out how many fans are still out there. Let me know if you are interested in any of the above.

Flick STILL Lives
Jim Clavin
email - becmfg@tribeca.ios.com
Date: Thu, 26 Dec 1996 17:08:02 -0800
From: Carl T. Erickson <ctexclam@sat.net>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Jean Shepherd

I have just read your interesting article on JS and enjoyed it very much. One of the things I have noted about JS is that no one ever writes about his work in the late '40's and early '50's.

In 1950, I had become a staff announcer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation station in Windsor, Ontario. The call was CBE and the location was at 1550 kc. In those days, one never grew tired nor ever stopped doing things. The result was that at 00:00 I had already been listening to half an hour of JS's programme from KYW in Philadelphia at around 1060, I believe. Each evening at 23:30 with the notes of the "Bahn Frei Polka" coming out of the speaker, JS's would tell us about seeing "him" and his card which proclaimed that he he had his own tux and would travel but would not follow dog acts nor would he follow seal acts. Alas, at one time (46 years ago), I had the patter complete, but after one stroke, the old memory cells are starting to become lazy. Then would follow 90 minutes of the most enjoyable random commentary that would occasionally make me laugh, other times keep me in suspense. Now and then we heard stories about the World War I fighter aircraft, the Sopwith Camel in his neighbour's back yard, if I'm not mistaken. I'll never know how I managed it, but I had to be up at 05:00 to sign on at 05:45 and sound cheerful and wide awake until 09:00! As you can well imagine, that routine kept me out of mischief, but to compensate for that deprivation, I had JS to listen to each evening. In 1953, I left Windsor and only ran across JS by chance in later years. I don't know how many times I've watched "The Christmas Story", but each time I do, I know that it described me to a T. The one difference is that my parents were made of sterner stuff than Ralphie's because I was never allowed a BB gun.

But the reason I write is to fill in a period that never seems to be mentioned whenever JS is discussed. The current biography seems to have him spring full-blown in the sixties with no earlier period. Perhaps the reason is that those contemporaries who write about him have never heard of the period when "steam radio" was the major source of home entertainment and as a consequence are completely unaware of its existence, nor of what radio's programming was like.

As I mentioned, I worked as a staff announcer/producer with the CBC in Windsor, Ontario and eventually gravitated to the CBC-TV News department writing stories for the next four years while I was a full-time student at the University of Toronto (Modern Languages--French, Spanish, Russian at equal intensity). Days at the UofT; nights at CBC-TV.

After 1953, I lost track of JS and without the time to chase him on the dial, nor with TV available other than WBEN-TV in Buffalo and then in 1954 with CBC-TV, I just didn't have the time available.

I hope that this little addition to JS's biography will help fill in what seems to have become a significant gap. I remember writing a fan letter to JS and receiving a personally-typed and signed reply.

Incidentally, the person who followed JS on KYW in Philadelphia was a young lady with the appropriate voice who was known as "Kay Wylie". Sharp thinkers at KYW in 1953!!

Carl T. Erickson
Date: Sat, 04 Jan 1997 02:36:34 -0800
From: <accc@accc.reno.nv.us>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: hi jim

I am a Jean Shepherd fan from a long time back. I listened to the PBS radio broadcasts back in the seventies and they were a shining light to me in the turbulent teenaged (for me) world of the early seventies.

I especially remember the Chock Full of Nuts truck incident and most especially the steel foundry tales.

I moved to England in 1980 and lived there until 1995. Although the UK had many great talents, in my mind no-one can compare to JS. Occasionally I even found myself wondering whatever happened to him, especially after my return after so many years to the U.S.

My curiosity became so great that I finally found your website. I am happy to hear that he is still going strong...

BTW I created a link on my own server to your site.

My server is : www.infitel.net and the link is on the 'selected links' page....

Date: Fri, 10 Jan 1997 19:05:27 -0800
From: Bill Longyard <longyard@ix.netcom.com>
Subject: Shep Story
To: jsadur@keyflux.com

When I was a kid I was so damned nervous that I sometimes had trouble breathing correctly. Much of this was due to stress at school. Listening to Jean Shepherd at night on WOR changed, and saved, my life.

Let me tell you the story of how I met Shep back around 1975.

My friends and I had gone to his concert at Princeton bound and determined to meet the "Great Man" himself. We waited behind the auditorium starting about an hour before the show. As time passed we began to fidget and worry about our seats. Fifteen minutes before the show we had no sign of Shep, but there was a Datsun 240(?) Z with New York plates parked near the rear door, and I believed it was his car. Anyway, more minutes ticked away and my friends finally gave up, went in, and took their seats. I just HAD to meet Shep, so I stayed, even with only minutes now to go before the show started.
Then, as if it were the opening shots of Lawrence of Arabia I saw a figure in the distance. There was a stocky man walking towards the auditorium in a white hunting jacket flanked by a man in a suit, and a woman of about 25. Though they were maybe forty yards away I thought it was Shep. Who were the others? They came towards me, but 25 yards away they turned to their right down a sidewalk leading to another building. BY GOD I had to meet the man. It just HAD to be Shep. I set off in pursuit.
I walked as quickly as I could, though I had to fight the temptation to break into a run, which would have made me look like a total boob. The distance closed, but by now as I looked at my watch I knew that if I were wrong, the show would have started and I would miss the opening. The distance shrank, 20 yards, 15, 10... Damn! They entered some building. I trotted up to the door and jerked it open. The man in the suit and the woman were standing in a lobby. SHEP! IT WAS SHEP! He was going up some stairs. I brushed past the other two, and climbed the stairs as quickly as my legs, rubbery with nervous excitement, would allow. I saw a door swing closed behind the white hunting jacket. I didn't care if I was barging into the man's private office, I was going in invitation or not. I pushed the door open, whipped out a piece of paper I had in my wallet, and pulled a pen from my shirt pocket. SHEP'S BACK WAS DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME!

"Uh..., Mr. Shepherd. Uh..., could I have your autograph."
"Oh, c'mon, kid," he said trying to brush me off.
"Oh, please, I really want it. I think you're great."
"Alright, kid. But could you wait till I'm done taking a leak."

I had met the hero of my life in a men's room at Princeton University while he was... How Shepherdesque. I cherish that autograph to this day.

Bill Longyard
Date: Sun, 12 Jan 1997 00:09:25 -0500
From: Michael Rothman <ujrothma@bgu.edu>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Keep your knees loose


This is the best web site of them all. I have been a Shep fan since 1959 or 1960, when I was in grade school. While in high school I'd listen to him at night and repeat his stories to friends the following day. I still don't know why they did not listen to him themselves. Twenty five years later when I one of them again, the first words out of her mouth were "Excelsior you fat head keep your knees loose".

With all of the Shepard tapes out there, why can't they be put on your web site as Real Audio or some other downloadable file. It would be great to listen to them again.

Thanks again for this GREAT web site.

Keep your knees loose.

Michael Rothman

Editor's Note:
I have considered some method of providing Shep audio on the site but a couple of problems stand in the way. My service provider is not compatible with the Real Audio server so any audio would have to be provided as downloadable file. The space available is limited so only a couple of sound bites would be available at a time. My biggest concern is copyright restrictions. Are there any legal-eagles out there who can advise me?

Date: Tue, 14 Jan 1997 16:47:59 -0600
From: Kathy <katalter@fyiowa.infi.net>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Form posted from Mozilla

I'm one of Shephard's flock. A friend, after I had referred to a line from In God We Trust ... (which meant it was also a line from A Christmas Story) he began talking about listening to Jean on WOR and went in search of web sites dedicated to Jean and/or the possibility of finding some kind of archieve of the WOR programs. (Poor me: I grew up with Dick Biondi on WLS but had no access to WOR.)

I've throughly enjoyed your site and the linking from it.


Date: Thu, 16 Jan 97 08:51:55 EST
From: Mike Friedman <friedman@kaiser.agfa.com>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Flick Lives!

I just saw your posting, and now can't wait to get home from work to see your web page. (no web access here at the office, just email). I've been a Shepherd fan since I was a kid and listned to him on WOR radio in NYC. I even got to meet and speak with him one year at the Dayton Hamfest, where he was the keynote speaker. I've more or less lost track of the guy for about the last decade, except for the annual showing of "A Christmas Story" on every local TV station. (I thought I heard his voice on NPR during the last election, but I wasn't sure.) Now, my 12 year old daughter listens to the few audio tapes I have from the "Shepherd's Pie" collection - another generation ruined!

Thanks in advance for the website...

Mike Friedman

Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 14:34:27 -0500 (EST)
From: Don Kutter <dkutter@IDT.NET>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Jean Shepherd

Mr. Sadur,

Miraculously, I've found the Shepherd web pages. I'm sure you hear the same reaction from everyone who stumbles in there for the first time!

I 'discovered' JS in the middle 60's. Living in central NJ I had the pleasure of his company many nights. I remember some of his shows at the Limelight but mostly I remember his 45 minute shows in the 70's.

I saw him once in person at Farliegh Dickinson in Madison (71? 72?) and he didn't let me down. The stories just kept coming and coming.

Which ones do I remember most? I'll bet everyone remembers the first time they heard him tell the Ludlow Kissel/Dago Bomb story. Doing a little brain searching I remember many stories about working in the steel mills. How about his mother, on the front porch with the flit gun, waiting for the approaching locusts! How about the time he was in a small plane, on a runway in Alaska, trying to take off and having a moose charging him. Remember the story about him walking home from school and teasing the neighbor's fenced in goose by holding his stick against the picket fence. Until the neighbor left the gate open at the end of the fence . The one where his neighbor ordered a house from Sears and it arrives in a train car; fishing for crappies; Bumpus hounds......

If I sit here all day, I'll never remember all the stories, but I'd like to.

I used to hook my reel to reel up every night and tape each show as I was listening to it. Mostly, it was for my own benefit, as I would laugh so hard, I would have to replay the tape to hear what I missed!

Sadly, I can't find any of the tapes I made. I would give 10 Mickey Mantles for a chance to have them back.

Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 14:39:26 -0800
From: Carole R. Bell <crbell@nwu.edu>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Jean Shepherd


I just found this page and the Bob Kaye page over the past couple of days. As I wrote to Bob, I'm so excited to have found people who share my love of Jean Shepherd and who also spent every night in the dark listening to this wonderful man. I shared a couple experiences with Bob, so I won't bore you with them in case he posts my message. But I called my mother the other evening after I had written to Bob and asked her if she remembered me always listening to Shep on the radio every night. You must realize that my mother NEVER remembers things. She not only remembered, she reminded me of an experience I had forgotten. When I was 16 in 1963, I was hit in the eye by a rock. I had a very dangerous injury that caused me to be hospitalized for 2 weeks with both of my eyes bandaged. I was under strict bedrest, not being allowed to get up for anything. My only solace during this time was my radio. I knew exactly how many turns of the dial it took to get from WIBG (Philadelphia) to WOR in NYC to listen to Jean every night. It all came back to me. He really did save me during that time.

Thanks to all for the sharing and the memories. Maybe I'll try to get back east in May to go to the Princeton show again. I haven't seen Shep in years. (I shared one Princeton story with Bob).

Carole Repsch Bell

Date: Sun, 19 Jan 1997 01:03:32 GMT
From: John Miller <john.miller@mansfield.oxford.ac.uk>>
To: jsadur@keyflux.com
Subject: Jean Shepherd and the White Sox

I first became a fan of Jean Shepherd at the tender age of 10, when his T.V. show "Jean Shepherd's America was still running on PBS. I remember it came on at 8:30 on Thursday nights, right after "Cosby". Right from the start, I was hooked. It was the episode about the Chicage White Sox, my favorite baseball team -- a team that my northern Indianan father trained me to love. The single greatest moment of the show however was when ol' Shep discussed his immense hatred of the New York Yankees -- a team my northern Indianan father has trained me to despise until the day I die. Never have I heard anybody more accurately examine that incense of evil that still clouds the Bronx bomber. This summer I actually breeched the barriers of the stronghold of all evil (a.k.a. Yankee Stadium) and bravely jeered the Bronx Bombers in spite of threats to my own physical well-being. I hope Jean Shepherd would be proud. Recently, Jean Shepherd's stuff has become more important to me than ever. As an American student at Oxford University in England, sometimes Shep's magical voice playing from my "Shepherd's Pie" tapes seems like my only link between me and my beloved Midwest.

Yours truly, John Miller
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Do you have stories, anecdotes or trivia for this page?

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

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Copyright © 1996, 1997 James E. Sadur.