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 The identity of Shep's first wife & the early days
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Posted - 10/12/2014 :  16:28:17  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Little is known about the time between Shep's graduation from Hammond High in June 1939 and what has usually been considered his first professional radio job at WSAI in Cincinnati in early 1947.

From the 1940 federal census, we know that Shep spent his first year out of high school mostly unemployed while seeking gainful employment as a "new worker." He told the census taker in late April 1940 that out of the previous 52 weeks, he had worked only four, earning a total of $100 for the year. He also declared that he had not recently attended any school or college, giving the highest level of education completed as four years of high school.

We also know that Shep spent about two years in the U.S. Army, between July 1942 and December 1944, returning home to 2907 Cleveland Street in Hammond upon his discharge from Camp Atterbury, located near Edinburgh in central Indiana. At the time of his enlistment in 1942, Shep had informed the military authorities that he had completed one year of college by then, and his occupation was listed as a general office clerk.

So what of the approximate two years between early 1945, Shep's return to civilian life in Hammond, and early 1947, when he moved to Covington, Kentucky, right across the river from WSAI in Cincinnati?

According to the Hammond City Directory for 1945, Shep was then working as an announcer at local radio station WJOB. Previous accounts have noted that Shep worked at WJOB while still in high school, providing scores for Hammond High's sports events. But, in fact, Shep's first professional broadcasting job as an adult was apparently also at WJOB, shortly after his discharge from the Army. Working at WJOB at the same time as Shep was a young and pretty Hammond resident named Barbara Mattoon, who helped maintain the radio station's library.

Barbara was born in 1926 in Minnesota. She was the daughter of Roy E. and Selma O. Mattoon. In 1929, her family had moved to Hammond from Superior, Wisconsin, where her father worked as a civil engineer. By the early 1930s, Roy was employed as a mill foreman at Inland Steel in nearby East Chicago, Indiana. His family, including Barbara and her siblings, lived at 248 Vine Street in Hammond. Barbara attended Hammond's schools, including Kenwood, Washington and Edison. She often participated in school activities, and performed in school plays and operettas. She also occasionally made the honor roll. At Edison, Barbara served on the school's tenth-grade graduation committee in 1940.

It appears that Barbara was also something of a flirt. During the war years, she was said to be actively corresponding with 31 different servicemen in the army and navy, signing each letter to her uniformed boy friends "with love." She was elected "honorary sweetheart" of a flight squadron in Texas, and even had a combat airplane named in her honor. By then, her nickname was "Queenie."

Shep also apparently fell for the charms of his comely co-worker at WJOB. On March 29, 1947, Shep and Barbara were married by the Reverend Ralph Wilbur Frost of Hessville's First United Presbyterian Church. A native of Ohio and a veteran of World War I, Rev. Frost had first arrived in Hammond during World War II, replacing the previous minister, a pacifist who had left the local ministry for civilian service at a camp sponsored by the Quakers.

At about the time of his marriage to Barbara, Shep had moved to Covington and began work at WSAI in Cincinnati. And in 1950, about three years after his marriage to Barbara, Shep married Joan Warner, the second Mrs. Shepherd. It is not now known what became of the first Mrs. Shepherd. Apparently, for reasons now unknown, both Shep and Queenie wished to erase that period of their lives from the historical record. They were mostly -- but not entirely -- successful.
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