I’ll take Wanda Hickey over Ralphie any day …

by Stephanie Smith, Lead Sales Associate, The Indiana Store at the Indiana State Museum

For years, people have teased me about my dislike — actually it’s more of an irrational fear — of the movie A Christmas Story. It’s probably been over 15 years since I last saw the movie, yet iconic moments from the film — like Santa kicking Ralphie down the slide — are still fresh in my memory. I was already afraid of department store Santas, so I’ll admit that I probably never really gave the movie a fair shake. Last Christmas season, when my boss mentioned carrying the A Christmas Story book in the museum shop, I was surprised that the author, Jean Shepherd, was a Hoosier. Granted, this did nothing to quell my dislike for the movie, and now with new knowledge, my dislike for the movie transferred to the book as well. I did however want to try and read other works by Jean Shepherd.

My choice was the collection of short stories called Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories and I loved it! As a longtime Prairie Home Companion fan, I found that Wanda Hickey’s served as a humorous, homespun tribute to Indiana. So when the idea of the Indiana Store Book Club came up, the book selection for the inaugural meeting was easy. I’m extremely happy to announce that the meeting is set for Sunday, Aug. 29 at 4 p.m. and all are welcome! And after the meeting, stay for a special extended hours shopping event at the Indiana Store. Book Club attendees will receive 20 percent off their purchases!

Oh … and if you’re wondering what I watch on Christmas instead of the 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon, I watch The Godfather. Yes, I do consider Don Corleone less frightening. And yes, I know how strange that sounds!

Contact me at ssmith@indianamuseum.org to R.S.V.P. for the book club meeting. Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories is available for purchase to book club members at a 20 percent discount at the Indiana Store.

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3 Responses

  1. If you hadn’t known that Jean Shepherd was a Hoosier, you probably didn’t know that he frequently wrote about and talked on his radio program about Hammond, which, in his books, he referred to as Hohman. Did you know that he received Hammond’s Achievement Award in 1981, the new Hammond Community Center is named after him, and he was awarded posthumous induction into the national radio hall of fame in 2005, the same year that the only book about him, my EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD! THE ART AND ENIGMA OF JEAN SHEPHERD was published? Maybe my book should be featured in The Indiana Store at the Indiana State Museum.

    Oh, and in 1995 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Indiana University Northwest. He also left a bequest to the creative writing department of the University of Indiana. You might find the main Shepherd website, http://www.flicklives.com of some interest so you can catch up on this Hoosier, who was an American genius.

  2. I just noted that there have been at least two previous essays about Jean Shepherd at wordpress.com:

    The Komodo Dramaturg Jean Shepherd’s Hohman November 28, 2009

    The Komodo Dramaturg Drink Your Ovaltine, Fatheads! — “A Christmas Story” October 16, 2009

  3. Hi Mr. Bergmann – Thanks for reading our post! It sounds like you’d be a great addition to our book club as you’d have a lot to add to the discussion. Hope you can make it!

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