| OK gang, settle down. I offer the following information solely for the serious student of the human soul. All others should move on to TMZ.com.
1. Randy, Shep's younger brother, was reported in 1988 to be wanted by the Indiana police on a sexual-misconduct charge.
The Post-Tribune (Indiana) of September 23, 1988, carried a story headlined "Humorist's brother sought on charges." The article began this way:
"Police said a brother of nationally known humorist Jean Shepherd has eluded arrest for more than six months on a sexual-misconduct charge. Randall G. Shepherd, 65, of 2230 Ridgewood St., Highland, was charged in Lake Superior Court last March with felony child exploitation. Highland police Detective Thomas D. James alleges Randall Shepherd showed two Highland girls, ages 12 and 14, a magazine with sexually explicit text and drawings on September 12, 1987."
The 1988 news account goes on to say that the Highland, Indiana, police had searched Randy's home and found the offending publication. The police weren't sure if he was still in the area, and there were rumors Randy could be living in Chicago or Florida. The Lake County prosecutor's office was quoted as saying "there isn't enough money in [the] office's budget to extradite all such felony fugitives, but [we] might make an exception in this case because of the seriousness of the alleged offense."
I have been unable to locate any further reports regarding the truth or falsity of the foregoing allegations, including whether the reported charges were ever dropped. However, when Randy died about five years later in St. Pete Beach, Florida, several obituaries reported that he had first arrived there from Highland in 1988, consistent with the rumors back in Indiana at the time.
By the time of Randy's arrival in Florida, Shep had already been withdrawing from the world as a recluse on Sanibel Island. Shep and brother Randy were separated by a distance of some 130 miles, about a two-hour drive. Did they ever meet or speak in the last years of their lives?
2. Shep was conceived out of wedlock.
Although many published sources provide an incorrect date of Shep's birth in Chicago, his birth certificate conclusively establishes he was born on July 26, 1921. Other government documents show that the Old Man and Anne, Shep's mother, were married on March 20, 1921. "You do the math," as they say . . . .
In the quaint parlance of years past, the Old Man and the older Anne (she was about three years his senior) apparently "had" to get married, whether or not there was any real affection or love between them. Perhaps that circumstance offers some clues to -- or at least partial explanation for -- the domestic dysfunction and marital difficulties both Jeans would suffer in later years.
Listening to Shep on the radio during his long WOR stint you never got the feeling the Old Man was a particularly loving husband or doting father while he was working at Borden dairy in the harsh Hammond winters. Indeed, not long after Shep and Randy left home and went off to join the Army, the Old Man left Cleveland Street (as well as Shep's mother), taking up with a much younger woman. He married her in the fall of 1945, starting a new life and family on Florida's Gold Coast, where he became a jewelry salesman on a sun-splattered boulevard. But that did not last long. The Old Man died a decade later, at age 54, while his young wife died several years after that. And the one son born of the union died at age 21, having lived most of his short life an orphan.
In the last years of his life, the Old Man gave his third and last son the name of his doting, older sister Glenna (Shep's "Aunt Glenn"), who as a sixteen-year-old romantic teenager had bestowed the French name of Jean on her baby brother. It brings to mind Orson Welles uttering "rosebud" at the end of his life in Citizen Kane . . . .
As a footnote, the Florida funeral home where final services were held for Shep's orphaned half-brother and the Old Man was just torn down in June to make way for a college parking lot.