“You ever wake up sometimes maybe around 3 o’clock in the morning, you look up at the ceiling, the blackness – you feel that terrible urge to see it all, to get on the road. To smell the pine trees, watch all the rivers, see all the skies, climb all the hills….”
Jean Shepherd was a humorist known to millions through books, radio, and live shows, but is best known to modern audiences for co-writing and narrating (as grown-up Ralphie) the 1983 film A Christmas Story. He also had a very popular TV show: Jean Shepherd’s America, produced by WGBH (PBS) Boston, aired 13 shows in 1971 and 13 in 1985. (They’re available on DVD, or learn more here.) This clip, from the last show of the 1971 season, is the final segment and end credits. Jean and his crew are snowbound in Wyoming at Holding’s Little America motel and truck stop, along the Lincoln Highway and I-80. During the 4-minute video, he talks, in his measured prose, about life on the road, and the American urge to keep moving.