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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 10 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 32
I'm a Patches Pal, aren't you?
Section One
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I'm a Patches Pal, aren't you?

by Desperately Seeking Susan - Special to the SGN

As the morning light squeaked through my 'Sugar Shack,' I gazed at the television. It showed the dates '1928-2012' with a picture of my hero, J.P. Patches, in the background. 'Oh no, not this,' I thought. 'The world now has one less clown.'

I grew up with J.P., a clown who lived 'in the little old shack by the railroad track.' J.P. Patches was a Pacific Northwest icon. His show ran from 1958 to 1981. He had a morning show and an afternoon show. I woke up to J.P. while he was stretched across a couple of boxes. He would always wake up to water spilling on him, courtesy of his Grandfather Clock. J.P. took delight in advising us all to say our prayers and follow the Golden Rule as if it were a shining sword.

J.P. had a few cohorts. He had a girlfriend named Gertrude, as played by local actor Bob Newman. This gentleman also played Ketchikan the animal man, who would always do a do-si-do with J.P. to the strains of marching music. My mother once cornered Newman in McDonald's. They both laughed and exchanged jokes as the day giggled around them. He towered over my five-foot, seven-inch mother.

Another cool cohort of J.P.'s was Professor Weiner Van Braun. He was a short man with a goatee. His presence was announced by a million seagulls. Another of my favorite J.P. characters was I.M. Rags, a convict clad in black and white stripes. I dressed up as him for Halloween in first grade. My dress was tucked into a black and white suit. I had a plastic baseball attached to a chain on my ankle to simulate my prisoner status.

'The world is full of a thousand clowns!' noted actor Jason Robards in the 1960s. How true, I can only dreamily agree. And now, there are only 999 clowns left. Thank you, J.P. Patches, for making my growing-up days a little more cheery. Oh, and about that time you pulled my second-grade ponytail in the Mercer Island Tradewell parking lot: How can I ever forget such a beaming time in the history of this Daily Planet?

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