Yesterday I wrote about how you could take a six hour car ride to Cleveland and be at the home which was featured in A Christmas Story. As it turns out, I was only half right. While you could certainly make the trip to visit movie props, the actual house is much closer. In fact it’s just down the road in Hammond, Indiana. This all came to light when my long time friend, social provocateur and documentarian, Shane Bugbee, fired off on me for the inaccuracy and, worse yet, the slight to the memory of Jean Shepherd.
Astute readers of my Hippo blogs will remember that I’m not a huge fan of the movie. Saw it, liked it, moved on. However, for others it was a profound, life changing, moment in their lives. My guess is that these are the same people who shop at WalMart, but I could be wrong.
Whoever these people are, the movie’s important to them. They know every line, can recite the complete history of each event and each and every one lauds the works and life of Jean Shepherd (this is a much more complete link).
On September 18, 2004, Shane was finally able to get an official Jean Shepherd Day in Hammond. But only after signing a release that made him promise that the event would not “… represent satan, horror movies, goth culture, and religious debate ….”
I may not be hopelessly devoted to the film, but I’m pretty sure there aren’t any scenes of human sacrifice or inverted crosses covered in blood. I probably would have noticed stuff like that.
It seems that the people of Hammond are mad at Mr. Shepherd for ending up in New York after serving in the Army in World War II. They seem to believe that he would have been just as famous, and just as beloved, if he’d stayed put and not gotten all uppity.
How deep is their rancor? At the Hammond Visitor’s Center there is a tribute to John Dillinger but not one mention of Mr. Shepherd or his works.
That’s pretty freaking deep.
How did that board meeting go? “Which display do we put up for the kids? Notorious gangster & killer or beloved family icon? It’s a NO-BRAINER! Bust out the lady in red and have at it!”
Actually it was an orange dress, but that’s a quibble for another day.
Of course Indiana is the state where you can buy Ku Klux Klan memorabilia and where they are building a museum to honor the world’s most famous (alleged) pedophile.
Maybe, for the sake of Mr. Shepherd’s heirs, fans and friends, it’s best that things just stay the way they are. After all, in comparison, Cleveland’s not so bad.