Home » Nettleton, Lois » JEAN SHEPHERD–LOIS NETTLETON ALBUM part 19



A few more items from Lois Nettleton’s collection of Shepherdiana that I screen-saved from ebay sales soon after her death. Included are the descriptions provided by the seller.

I won various items that were for sale, and many other people bought most of the rest. In addition to those items I’ve chosen to post, there are a number of other postcards, letters, and Shep’s own written books that were for sale.

I copied and pasted here from Jim Clavin’s the Mademoiselle 1964 article, which I present in three posts. (I added the paragraphing where it seemed appropriate.)


The nuttiness is spreading in our land. I get on this plane recently. An emergency trip – out to Chicago and back again. No time to make reservations, and it seems that when you’re really in a hurry the only seat you can ever get is on the Champagne – Red Carpet Flight. The others are all booked up weeks ahead of time. And so I find myself going through this great big chute. You don’t walk into airplanes anymore; they inject you into them. The airplane is mainlining people. You walk through this tube – the same air-conditioning and Muzak that is in the terminal – you never know you’re on a plane. It’s like a big tunnel that runs from the Time-Life Building straight to Chicago. This really is the Jet Age. In order to Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of Life you’ve got to do it at 700 miles per hour, or slightly below the sonic barrier. Because, Dad, that’s where it’s happening. That is where the story is being spelled out. But one thing – at subsonic speeds you’ve got to really look at it hard in order to see it, because sometimes it’s moving so fast it’s just a blur. Trailing smoke. You’ve got the picture. I am injected into this enormous silver monster, floating gently on a sea of barely audible Muzak, the sweet Karo Syrup of Existence. I am strapped into my seat. My safety belt is a delicate baby-blue shade, matching the cloud-blue and spun-silver interior decor of this about-to-hurtle projectile. Muzak rises to a crescendo and we take off. Instantly we are high over this big chunk of land, and the world has become a blurred Kodachrome slide. A man today never feels so alive as when he is hurtling from one point to another on the azimuth. My nerves are tingling. I’m ready to devour Life in great chunks. In the Champagne – Red Carpet – First Class – VIP – Very Expensive Section. Silently the red velour is rolled out and baby-blue and silver houris are plying me with stuff to eat – which if my mother knew I was eating she would really know I have gone to hell. By God, caviar and Moet brut and diced lamb’s-liver pate at 8:17 A.M., over Altoona.

Suddenly, with no warning, from behind me I hear the sound. I have never heard anything like this ever in a jet plane. Or in a biplane for that matter. Or even a Fokker trimotor. I’m sitting there knocking down the caviar, slurping up the champagne, when from behind me I hear the sound, the unmistakable twang, the soul-searing biting buzz of a guitar! A plaintive G-minor chord mingled with the sounds of ice cubes and plastic swizzle sticks . . . Boing . . . boing . . . twaaannng . . . And then, a heartbroken voice. It’s the voice of America Singing: 500 Miles! ! ! ! It echoes through the pressurized cabin, bouncing from one curved baby-blue bulkhead to the next, and finally fading out somewhere near the “Occupied” sign at the far end of our sealed capsule: 500 Miles! ! ! ! For crying out loud! A Lonesome Traveler! On a jet flight for Chicago, Meat Packer to the World, City of the Broad Shoulders, where the fog creeps in on little cat’s feet. A Lonesome Traveler in the Champagne – Red Carpet – First Class – VIP – Very Expensive Section!

I turn around. And here’s this angry, beat-looking kid sprawled out there in his foam rubber seat, his safety belt unhooked, a battered guitar case beside him. This angry kid all tanned from Fire Island where the Crusade for Truth is swelling like a mighty organ chord that cannot be ignored. He’s tanned, and wearing a pair of Levis carefully torn in all the right places. It cost his old man a lot of bucks for that pair of Levis – torn, faded, and worn as if they’ve been worn building the Union Pacific by hand, fighting the Terrible Depression of the Thirties, scrabbling out of the stony soil a hard crust of bread for a poor, honest man, just a-livin’ in This Land, just a-tryin’ to Love and a-tryin’ to Understand and Live as a simple, pure Heart with his Fellows, his Brothers and Sisters all over This Land. A pure White Dove, a-sailin’, a-sailin’, a-sailin’. . . The Times They Are a-Changin’ This guy’s singing there and the tears are just a-streamin’ down between the champagne glasses and the olive picks. . . There was hardly a dry eye in the house. I am surrounded by a horde of college students, all empathizing like mad with the plight of the Common Man Fighting Against the Forces of Evil, the forces of a rotten, decadent Society.



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