'A Christmas Story' celebrates 30 years

In this Nov. 21, 2013, photo, a leg lamp is framed in the window of the house in Cleveland where much of the 1983 movie "A Christmas Story" was filmed. A surge of visitors is expected to tour the restored house, and purchase a miniature lamp or two at the gift shop, on the 30th anniversary of the quirky holiday film. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

I enjoyed the AP (Associated Press) article on how “A Christmas Story” has become a part of our deeply-rooted Christmas tradition (“‘A Christmas Story’ at 30: Now part of the family,” AFN, Dec. 4). However, I was surprised and disappointed at the writer’s failure to mention the story’s author, who narrated the film and who also appeared in it as the gruff gentleman who directs Ralphie and his brother to the end of the line to see Santa at Goldblatt’s.

“A Christmas Story” actually contains elements of at least four Jean Shepherd short stories, the main one being “Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid.” The leg lamp episode comes from the story “My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award that Heralded the Birth of Pop Art.” Other elements were pulled from “The Grandstand Passion Play of Delbert and the Bumpus Hounds,” as well as “Scut Farkas and the Murderous Mariah.”

As a boy growing up in New York City, my late night radio companion was Jean Shepherd as I toiled away on my high school homework in the late 1950s. Each weeknight his show aired from 10:15 to 11 p.m. on WOR, 710 on the AM dial. It was a monologue full of word pictures of his life experiences in northern Indiana during the Depression, as well as his life in the Army during World War II. As a story-teller Shepherd was right up there with Mark Twain and Will Rogers. I believe he passed away in 1998.

Again, I think the writer, while acknowledging the classic nature of the film, did an injustice by overlooking its creative genius author.

William M. Diekmann

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