Max Schmid's tribute to radio storyteller Jean Shepherd last week prompted Mike Gordeuk of Westfield to fill in a bit of Shep history.
"In 1999," Gordeuk writes, "you had a note from a listener relating how a caustic Shepherd ridiculed a caller on the Alan Colmes show for believing Flick and Schwartz existed. But they did exist, and there's a reason Shep denied it.
"My mother Elaine Rademacher attended Hammond High School with Shepherd in 1938. In her yearbook, The Dunes, Shepherd and Schwartz are pictured together in the band's bass section, just as he related in many stories. They are also shown together in the Automobile Club and the Hi-Y Club. Also in the yearbook is a picture of Flick Flickinger.
"When Shepherd spoke at Union College in Cranford 20 years ago, some other fans and I chatted with him after the show. Actually, he spotted the yearbook and before I said anything he came over and gruffly told me he'd seen 'thousands' of them before. When I told him my mother went to school with him, his manner softened and he looked through it, going right to the band pictures of himself and Schwartz.
"He explained he found it very annoying that instead of crediting him for creating his stories and characters, 'some dumb SOBs' thought he was just relating adventures he and his friends had back in Hammond. That was why it ticked him off when people asked about the 'real' Flick and Schwartz.
"After swearing a blue streak in this vein, he started to laugh. He said, 'It's all part of the rich pageantry of life, my friends,' signed the yearbook, shook my hand and strolled off into the night."