On an undated program Shepherd said, “Do you know that there was a restaurant in this town [Rosoff’s], right in the middle of New York City, right off Times Square, that had a Jean Shepherd Sandwich?…Are you curious what it was? Oh, what a sandwich, I wanna tell you! Whoever it was knew what I like. There’s nothing I like better than whitefish. It was a whitefish sandwich, a cold whitefish sandwich with very thin white bread and a slice of thin, very fresh Bermuda onion, with salt and pepper and with a touch—just a touch—of horseradish! Ahhh!”
That’s a happy fish reference, but remember shep’s allegory about when, after casting the lure “perfectly,” he got the fish hook caught in his ear–he told that in March of 1977, just a few days before his last broadcast on WOR after twenty-two years of “doing everything perfectly.”
[I sort of assume that he engaged in fly-fishing. I imagine that the image above represents the sort of bugger that hooked him in the ear.]
What Shepherd fan would have thought that fish played more than a bit part in his life? True, he talked of fishing as a kid from time to time, including his first published story in Playboy when he tells of his first fishing trip–fishing for crappies. As an adult he had participated in two “Fisherman’s World” television programs, in one of which, while ice fishing, he was served refreshments by Playboy Bunnies.
Also, from a few radio references over the years we understand that he was a dedicated fisherman. Jean and Leigh’s vacation retreat on Snow Pond in Maine, which they visited from about 1977 to 1985, was probably, to some extent, chosen because of the fishing. In her year 2000 interview about Jean, Lois Nettleton expressed surprise upon learning that he and Leigh had had a place in Maine. Without apparent wistfulness or jealousy she said, “Ah! That’s where we used to spend any time that we had. We spent our little belated honeymoon. And we’d go up there and rent a little cottage and go fishing all day, and he’d cook the fish.”
To what extent was Maine chosen because of Jean’s emotional connection to Lois Nettleton? A decade after the divorce from her, when Jean and Leigh bought the Snow Pond place, maybe none at all, as he claimed never to dwell on the past. Maybe it was just the fish.