Name That Clown!

This is the true litmus test for all residents of Western Washington. If you don’t know who this is, then you weren’t born here, and if you were, then your parents weren’t.

Yes, it is the one, the only, the beloved J.P. Patches. While I was born only a few years before he went off the air in 1981, my parents grew up watching him. Even though we didn’t watch him on a daily basis, the Captain, Ressis, Auntie and I were all children of Patches Pals, so we knew who he was. Later, a few videos came out and we watched them. Ane and Tad are familiar with these videos, and occasionally J.P. is also on our local PBS station (especially during pledge weeks).

Saturday, J.P. was at Yakima Fruit Market, our local farmer’s market. Since the kids and I have frequently taken Obachan there to shop (it’s across the street from where she lives, but the “street” is actually a five-lane highway with no crosswalks, so we drive there to be on the safe side), and it’s one of Ane’s favorite places to shop, they are quite familiar with the portrait of J.P. that hangs along the back wall next to the honey shelves.

When I asked Ane if she wanted to go meet J.P. there, she gave me a funny look. “How is he going to get out of the picture?” she asked. I then explained that no, he would actually be there IN PERSON. She decided that she’d like to go and meet him.

We prepared by watching some videos, finding my J.P. Patches book for him to sign, and teaching Tad to say “J.P.”

We got to Yakima Fruit Market a half-hour early, so when J.P. did make his appearance, we were among the first to say hi. Right after the people older than my parents who were telling J.P. that they were on the show when they were little.

Ane gave him my book to sign, and he asked her if she could read it. “It says ‘J.P. Patches’!” she said proudly.

“That’s right!” he replied.

J.P. also signed the little pre-printed cards that he carries for the kids. It had a picture of the new statue of him and Gertrude that was unveiled down in the Fremont area of Seattle this last August. So they each have J.P.’s autograph now.

And because he’s J.P. and knows what kids like, he pulled a Tootsie Pop out of his pocket when he was done signing. Ane got all excited – we all know that she loves her poppylocks. J.P. sees her get excited and, completely deadpan, says to her, “Oh, I was going to give this to your brother.”

Ane’s jaw hit the floor and her expression was so comical that I cracked up. Fortunately, J.P. also knows just how long to carry a joke, and promptly pulled another Tootsie Pop from his pocket and presented it to Ane.

I had a great time. I think the kids did, too – they sure enjoyed the Tootsie Pops and the general fall festival atmosphere of the market that day. If the Webmaster had been in this picture (he was taking it), I would seriously consider making it our Christmas photo.

We also bought a DVD that has 3 of the J.P. videos on it, which is great to finally own (especially considering that our VCR started eating tapes, so we hadn’t used it in months and we’d been watching J.P. off the PBS stuff on the DVR).

Ketchikan the Animal Man, one of the other many characters on the show (most of whom were all played by the same guy, Bob Newman, who also played the flamboyant Gertrude) was supposed to be there as well, but sadly, he broke his hip last week. The Yakima Fruit Market staff had a large get-well card for him at the merchandise table, so after I bought our DVD, I signed it from all of us. I had told Ane that Ketchikan would be there, so she was kind of disappointed later that he wasn’t.

But still, it was a fun day – we topped it off by going out to lunch, which was a nice treat – and since the kids are waking at the crack of dawn on Saturdays now (we have them trained too well), we should really make more of an effort to do fun family things on Saturdays. And seeing J.P. was free (except for buying the DVD and a few groceries), and I’m all for doing fun, creative and free things with the kids right now.

And now I’m sure that all the Seattle natives are smiling after seeing J.P. pictures. And if you’re not a native… I bet you’re smiling anyway.

7 Responses to “Name That Clown!”

  1. Ressis
    October 20th, 2008 07:22

    Yup, I’m smiling. 😉

  2. Doc
    October 20th, 2008 09:34

    Where exactly is that Fremont statue?

  3. Aimee
    October 20th, 2008 09:53

    What a fun experience for the whole family!

  4. Webmaster
    October 20th, 2008 13:22

    Doc: as Wikipedia states, it is, “…approximately 250 feet east of ‘Waiting for the Interurban'”


  5. Aunt Lynda
    October 20th, 2008 21:52

    I love the Fremont statues! Especially the troll. And I’m so jealous you got to see JP. I was too old, but I watched him with my kids. JP and Wunda Wunda.
    Aunt Lynda

  6. Deanna’s Corner » Blog Archive » Danger - Boy with cart
    April 3rd, 2009 01:01

    […] after Tad got out yesterday, we decided to go to Yakima Fruit Market (which I have blogged about several times before) – our local produce stand. We hadn’t been there since it reopened for the […]

  7. Deanna's Corner » Blog Archive » The Clown
    July 23rd, 2012 00:43

    […] once.  And in 2008, the Webmaster and I made the effort to take Ane and Tad to meet him.  I wrote a blog post about it at the time, and you can read the full story there, but I just want to post this picture […]