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 Giant Ice Cream Cone and invented geography

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Bill Bucko Posted - 10/25/2005 : 01:41:53
WARNING! This post contains trivia!

Hello, I've just listened to the "Giant Ice Cream Cone" program. I can't comment on whether the giant cone really existed. I can, though, state with assurance that the geography is (at least in part) invented.

Shep specifies the time of the incident as when he was about 9 years old -- therefore, around 1930.

He says his house was on the "outskirts" of town. That's probably not an unreasonable description. Even in the 1950s and 60s Kennedy Avenue (Hessville's main north-south thoroughfare) had a great many empty lots. Though the original (wooden) Harding School had just been built, Hessville's major expansion (east of Harding) didn't get underway till the early 60s. (I still remember one oddity Shep would have enjoyed: "The Talking House," a new structure wired for sound, to sell visitors on the wonders of prefab housing. "How old are you?" you'd say, and a voice would answer from a hidden microphone: "I'm brand new!")

Now, Shep says the ice cream cone was built about a half mile down a road he lived near. The only main streets that he could mean are Kennedy Avenue and 165th Street.

He further specifies:

a shopping center has been built there now;
it was near a river (though nobody ever caught fish there);
there was a baseball diamond.

The "shopping center" eliminates north on Kennedy, south on Kennedy, and west on 165th. Half a mile north on Kennedy, you find Mabel's Diner (the current site of Flick's Tavern), and a few other small businesses--that's all. Half a mile south on Kennedy, you'd be approaching Hessville's main business district, centered (in the 1950s) around the Ace Theater (now the Kennedy) and Fifield's Pharmacy. Again, you wouldn't describe that as a shopping center. Half a mile west on 165th, across the tracks, you'd be where the American Can Co. factory was built in 1957. Beyond that, also on the north side of the street was a large open prairie where my family's dogs chased rabbits. To the north of the prairie was the IHB freight yard, and to the west a huge junkyard (still there) at the intersection of Summer Street and Indianapolis Blvd. Some of that land is still vacant, today. Nothing like a shopping center.

OK, east on 165th, I believe there IS a shopping center (near the ersatz "Morton High School" they built in 1968 to "replace" the REAL Morton H.S. I and the girl I love attended (at 170th--171st Street, 1 block west of Kennedy Ave.)

However, what about the river?? Nowhere near! The closest river is the Grand Calumet, at least 1 1/2 miles north on Kennedy Avenue. No baseball diamond. It was surrounded by the Shell Oil Co. refinery and tank farm, US Lead Refining, and Harbison Walker Refractories. Which explains why the river DID catch on fire, from time to time!

SO ... I think it's fair to say that, great storyteller that he was, Shep added a liberal dose of imagination to any real-life incidents he chose to describe.

Bill Bucko

Warren G. Harding Class of '63
5   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Bill Bucko Posted - 03/11/2007 : 00:28:06
Originally posted by Bill Bucko

... Shep was interested in spinning yarns, not in recreating area history. He combined fiction and non-fiction very liberally.

Hey, everybody, did you notice these excerpts from Mr Clavin's summary of the Overseas Press Club Conference?

"3) "Why are you referred to as Ralph in the book IGWT?" Shep explains that Ralph is not him. Just a character telling the story in the 'first person'.

11) "Is Zinsmeister and the Treacherous... closer to life than you'll admit?" All my stories are as close to life as I can get. All my stories are based on fact, but quite often I make it into a form larger than life.

16) "Are the stories you tell on the air ficticious or true?" - Yes... They are true stories but you bring out the points you want people to see. It's not literally true, but it is true in spirit. Flick, Schwartz and Bruner really exist.

29) "We couldn't find Hommand Indiana in the atlas" The town in the book is Hohman and is a composite of Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago. Cedar Lake is about 26 miles south of Hammond near Laketown.


Warren G. Harding Class of '63
Bill Bucko Posted - 03/08/2006 : 00:26:29
"A couple of blocks from his home," now?

That reinforces my conviction that Shep was interested in spinning yarns, not in recreating area history. He combined fiction and non-fiction very liberally.


Warren G. Harding Class of '63
m10bob Posted - 03/07/2006 : 20:43:51
This thread was started soon after Max aired the Shep broadcast regarding "The giant ice cream cone"...
Indeed, last night I heard another referance to the same building by Shep!!
On his program of 1965-08-19, titled:"Food shaped stands", he again speaks of that same ice cream vendor, but with more detail claims it was "a couple of blocks from his home, built on an empty lot, and sez it was 4 stories tall with room above for the owner's sleeping quarters".
He claims that after the novelty of the building and the "tooty fruity ice cream" wore off, customers stopped coming and the business went kerplunk. (This WAS the depression, ya know?)..
**Max aired this program approx 2 years ago as well on MASS BACKWARDS**

In Hoc Agricula Conc
In Est Spittle Louk
m10bob Posted - 10/29/2005 : 15:35:48
Bill, those great maps you sent me did have the roundhouse for the railroad..(Shep had said Lud Kissel was on the "extra board" at the local roundhouse), and this one might be the one..??

In Hoc Agricula Conc
In Est Spittle Louk
Bill Bucko Posted - 10/27/2005 : 22:05:29
ULP, I think I goofed. The shopping center I mentioned is really on 169th, not 165th.

I almost never had reason to travel that far east. The area was sparsely settled. And frankly, my brain gets rattled whenever I think of them tearing down my old H.S. and foisting off a substitute!

Possibly Shep was thinking of the Woodmar Shopping Center ... west, on Indianapolis Blvd., just a little south of 165th. Though that's more like a mile and a half from Shep's house. And still nowhere near a river. It would be a more plausible location, though, for selling ice cream, because it would see a lot more traffic.

Warren G. Harding Class of '63

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