Holiday Triumphs: Jean Shepherd, “Uncle Carl’s Gift”

Continuing the fabled tradition begun all the way back in 2009, Scratchbomb presents Holiday Horrors and Holiday Triumphs: an advent calendar of some of the more hideous aspects of this most stressful time of year–with a few bits of awesomeness sprinkled in.

shep2.GIFLast year around this time, I wrote a post about Jean Shepherd, since he and the holiday season will be forever intertwined thanks to the classic he wrote and narrated, A Christmas Story. I’ve written on this site many times about my love for his WOR radio show that ran from 1955 to 1957–and how it was much more dark and philosophical than his most famous film. So rather than prattle on for the 8 billionth time, I’d like to present Shep in his own words on a holiday matter.

First up, his show from December 22, 1965. After opening with The Legend of the Flying A Train, Shep’s chance encounter with The Truth–in the form of a staggering drunk–reminds Shep of his Uncle Carl. A hopeless drunk, Uncle Carl was infrequently employed, often went missing for days on end, and could never remember which apartment in his building was his. But one fateful Christmas, Uncle Carl came through.

Like all of Shep’s best tales, this one is funny and tragic all at once, and above all real, told by a master storyteller. Enjoy.

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