In case you'd like to hear what we heard, you can check out these recordings on the Internet Archive.
And if the name Jean Shepherd sounds familiar for more than its similarity to female Grand Ole Opry favorite Jean Shepard, it may be because the movie "A Christmas Story" was adopted from his tales in the book "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash." It's all in there...the fight with Scut Farkus, the BB gun, the Bumpasses' dogs eating the turkey.
A fascinating man, he was, and talented as well. Of course, even with all that talent, every performer needs promotional gimmicks and publicity stunts to get his/her name before the public. Shep's was a doozy:
In 1956, he challenged his audience to create a demand for a book called "I, Libertine," by a made-up author - "Frederick R. Ewing." Jean figured that he could manipulate the best-seller lists by having his fans try to buy a certain book. And they did, and, being a literary-type of audience in the media capital of the world, they planted references to the book in magazines and newspapers, creating further demand, as booksellers frantically attempted to purchase the book from their distributors for sale in stores. Then, with the book on the New York Times Best Seller List, Shepherd and two others actually wrote the doggone book, got a cover painted by Kelly Freas, and Ballantine Books put it out.
You'll notice the Wall Street Journal got Shep's name wrong, but the publicity went a long way toward making him a household name in New York. I just checked on Amazon...six hardback copies of the book are for sale, the lowest price being $125. We should have bought it in 1956! But I didn't have 35 cents then.