While growing up I would make sure I was in bed by 9:15. I would be settled in under the covers with the lights off. A thin wire extended from my red hand held Panasonic transistor radio all the way to a tiny ear piece that I would plug in to my ear.
Five nights a week I would hold myself there waiting for the theme of the bugle that sounded the song of the race track. I did this all through the 1960s and the 1970s. Jean Shepherd was on the air on WOR-AM.
Every weeknight Shepherd would sign on and tell stories. He always started with some general gab, and then he would sell some products, but the last half hour of the 45-minute show was theater of the mind. His stories would amaze or frighten the living hell out of you. One could hear stories of coming of age in Holman, Indiana with his friends Flick, Schwartz and Bruner. Or you could hear stories of his travels or his experiences in the Army or working in a steel mill.
“Shepherd, Shepherd…I know that name rings a bell,” you say? OK, I’ll make it easy for you with a quote from one of his books that is now a movie and a play and a neo-icon of Christmas, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”
Before Shepherd’s movies ever came out he was an author of several books, and plays. PBS had two series on his work, Shepherd’s Pie and Jean Shepherd’s America. They also did other of his stories for 90 minute PBS movies.
* In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash
* Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories And Other Disasters
* The Phantom Of The Open Hearth
* A Fistful of Fig Newtons
* A Ferarri In The Bedroom.
I went to one of his book signings back when he published Ferrari in the Bedroom.
Shepherd’s story telling expanded my young mind in ways I can’t even begin to imagine. I am often asked what my inspiration is or what my muse is, and I often think back to my childhood when I was tucked away with Shepherd’s words going directly into my brain. He helped spur my imagination and even today I will experience something and I’ll hear Shep’s voice in my head saying, “Excelsior, you fathead!”