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T O P I C R E V I E W
Posted - 12/25/2014 : 10:14:39 I was just watching A Christmas Story on the TBS annual marathon. The electronic program guide (EPG) description, at least on Comcast, mistakenly describes the movie as a boy's quest for a "Red Rider [sic] BB gun."
And here are some facts you might want to keep in mind about the movie during this holiday season:
1. The Old Man abandoned the family shortly after Shep (aka "Ralphie") and Randy joined the U.S. Army during WWII, taking up with a much younger woman and becoming a jewelry salesman on Florida's Gold Coast, where he died at the age of 54, leaving Shep's half-brother Glenn an orphan for most of his short life after his mother also died.
2. Delbert Bumpus -- the neighbor who owned the "Bumpus hounds" in the movie -- actually kept a beagle or two confined in a kennel. Contrary to Shep's description, Delbert was a well-liked and successful student, who won a Bronze Star Medal for valor in Normandy after landing in a tank on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He went though most of his adult life deeply troubled by the hurtful treatment of him and his family in Shep's Playboy stories and in A Christmas Story. Delbert also suffered from PTSD because of what he had witnessed in France during the war.
3. Paul L."Schwartz" -- who issued the "triple-dog dare" to Flick -- enlisted during the war as an aviation cadet, being commissioned as a navigator. He died on March 19, 1944, in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Italy when his B-17 was struck by another plane in a tight formation heading for a bombing run to Klagenfurt Air Depot in the Austrian Alps to destroy a Messerschmitt factory. His body was never recovered.
4. "Flick" (Jack N. Flickinger) -- whose tongue was stuck to the flagpole in the movie -- served in an anti-aircraft unit in North Africa, returning after the war to Hammond, where he ran "Flick's Tavern" with his wife Opal for many years. Flick passed away in 1994.
5. Shep (aka "Ralphie") was born in Chicago in 1921 -- he often lied about his age -- and moved to East Chicago, Indiana, when he was about 6. After a brief time there, where he attended William Mckinley Elementary School and became smitten by Dawn Strickland, he moved to Hammond, where he graduated from Hammond High in 1939. He was unemployed for at least a year after graduation, joining the Army in July 1942. Unlike many of his friends, he never left the States during the war. His first radio job was with local station WJOB, where he met his first of four wives.
6. Shep appears in a cameo role near the end of A Christmas Story. He is the bearded gent who tells Ralphie to get at the end of the line to see Santa. Lesser known is that the woman next to Shep in line was his collaborator and fourth wife, Leigh Brown. She died of cancer in 1998, a year before Shep, while living on Sanibel Island in Florida. Shep never recovered from the loss, physically or mentally.