If you see friends or neighbors or co-workers looking glum tomorrow and you know they grew up in Seattle from the late 1950′s to the 1980′s then it’s probably due to some mourning for local KIRO-TV children’s television personalityJ.P. Patches. The man behind the clown make-up, Chris Wedes passed away Sunday at the age of 84 after a long battle with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. It’s likely that some of those mourning friends were “Patches Pals” and loyal worshipers at the Church of Patches.
I’m not the one to write a proper memorial for Mr. Patches; I didn’t grow up in Seattle and I don’t have a connection to the character other than as a peripheral figure on the local news when Mr. Wedes would be honored for his charitable work which naturally centered on raising money for local children’s charities, most notably Seattle Children’s Hospital. Or, maybe seeing the image of J.P. Patches as an Archie McPhee action figure in a shop or driving or walking past the honorary statue of J.P. and his sidekick Gertrude in Fremont. There’s not much meaning for me. There’s no connection.
But, I also know how I would feel if I had heard that “Calamity Kate” from Channel 10 in Lincoln, Nebraska was gone, (and another beloved tv icon from my youth IS already long gone….Rest in Pieces, Dr. San Guinary!) It’s tough to lose your childhood icons and the touchstones of your youth. It’s a bittersweet reminder that things change and you’re not 10 years old anymore…but, it’s not healthy to dwell on that. And, do you really want to be ten again? Sure, hold on to those pleasant memories from your youth recalling the juvenile antics of your beloved after school television baby sitters with their corny gags and awkward introductions of Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear cartoons…there’s nothing wrong with a flip through your mental scrapbook of memories!
And, then you can raise a hearty toast to J.P. Patches and Chris Wedes….and all our childhood Clowns and Calamity Kate’s still with us or not…Salud!
For more on J.P. Patches check out his website.