Clowns! Booga Booga! #socs #jusjojan

Source: Pixabay

It’s all Linda’s fault: she’s the one that told us to find a word with "ow" in it, and I picked "clown." I’m sorry if this triggers coulrophobia (a fear of clowns that’s not officially recognized by the APA or any other organization that recognizes phobias), but the rules of Stream of Consciousness Saturday are pretty clear about not giving this a whole lot of thought, and just to write.

I’ve never found clowns frightening, or even creepy. Maybe I was inoculated by the fact that the most popular TV show at noon in Chicago when I was growing up was Bozo’s Circus. Everybody watched Bozo when they went home for lunch. I think that’s why the nuns let us out for lunch at 11:45, so we could be at home and get our lunch and our spot in front of the TV in time to hear Ringmaster Ned blow his whistle and announce "Bozo’s Circus is on the air!" We had to be back at school by 1:00, which meant most of us would watch the first half of Bozo (it was an hour long) then leave for school, where we’d hang around outside and play games like Tag and Red Rover until it was time to go in. (We weren’t allowed to bring toys or balls to school, so we were limited by that.) If you want to see what the big deal was all about, there is a full episode from 1968 on YouTube.

When I was in Hawai’i about 30 years ago, I was walking around on the streets of Waikiki (that sounds like a country song, doesn’t it?) and found an art gallery that was displaying the clown paintings of Red Skelton. I can’t embed any, sorry, but you can see some examples on his website.

And, of course, there was Andy the Clown, who was a sort of unofficial cheerleader for the White Sox when they played at old Comiskey Park. He was an old guy who lived in the neighborhood and would show up in a clown costume with his face painted and with a nose that lit up. By the late innings of the game, Andy was usually pretty well lit up himself. During rallies, he would yell "Gooooooooo youuuuuuu Whiiiiiite Soooooox!" and get everyone all stirred up. When they built the new Comiskey Park (now Guaranteed Rate Field), they told Andy that he had to stop coming to the games dressed as a clown. When word got out, people raised hell with the front office, and he was allowed to don the clown suit once again. But he didn’t. And no, he didn’t start showing up at Wrigley Field; the Cubs had enough clowns on the field back then.

The only clown that ever scared me was John Wayne Gacy, and it wasn’t actually fear, it was revulsion. Gacy was convicted of one count of sodomy, 33 counts of murder, one count of sexual assault, and one count of indecent liberties with a child, and was sentencd to death in 1980. Most of his victims were found buried under his house and in his yard. Gacy used to go around dressed as "Pogo the Clown," which he said allowed him to regress into childhood. While he awaited his date with the electric chair (later lethal injection), he painted, mostly pictures of himself as Pogo and of other clowns. His intention was to allow them to be sold after he died to raise money for the victims’ families. A wealthy person got wind of this, bought all the paintings, and destroyed them.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you erach week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word from Avco Financial Services. If there’s anything you’d like to buy, Avco can help you buy it!

This is also an entry in Linda’s Just Jot It January. Check her blog for the rules!

36 thoughts on “Clowns! Booga Booga! #socs #jusjojan

  1. Great post, love your sense of humor, sorry my favorite author has caused so many people to be scared of clowns. I view that the same way as my music, it’s just show biz, I ignore any evil connotation, except for maybe Rob Zombie, that guy really embodies the very essence of evil!

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  2. I used to watch Bozo on Chicago channel 9 in the morning before grade school. I only ever got to see the first 15-20 minutes and then I had to go catch the bus. I remember fondly the days I was sick, and I’d watch all of Bozo and be really hyped to see Captain Kangaroo after, but I seldom got through it without sleeping, because sick. LOL

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    1. Right, they moved Bozo to mornings when they realized most kids stayed at school for lunch and no one was really at home during the day. I used to like the game shows when I was sick.

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  3. Good post and thank you for not being scared of clowns. I am a registered clown with World Clown Association in the Caring Clown division. Its amazing the good we can do in hospitals and nursing homes. I feel its Hollywood who have put clown in a fearful light creating terrible characters and that is sad. As far as the makeup goes, if you put it on correctly using the approved colors of red, black and white it should not be scary, however I did switch to Auguste clown makeup as the tones were more natural skin colors and less frightening to small children. REAL clowns are not scary – people in clown clothes at Halloween are not real clowns, just saying.

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  4. I don’t like clowns, either. They are supposed to be funny but they’re not. I got scared of a rodeo clown when I was a kid, when he threw something up into the audience for a gag. It thought it was a skunk, and it came straight for me, making me spill my coke and popcorn. I’ve hated clowns ever since. Bad, bad, clown.

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    1. Rodeo clowns are definitely a different breed. It’s almost like they’re not really clowns, more like cattle wranglers with makeup on. They’re not there to entertain so much as to make sure a 1500-pound bull doesn’t stomp some guy to death. I’m sorry that happened to you.

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  5. When Pony was born his great-aunt Kathy crocheted him a clown. Not as a toy but something for room decor. When he got older, he started taking the clown off the shelf and hiding it. After the second or third time of him doing that we asked him what’s up? His answer was simple. “Clowns are creepy“. I remember Bozo and was never afraid of clowns per se but something about mascots in general. Hiding behind a mask/makeup. That can present a creep factor.

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  6. Can’t say I was ever scared of clowns since I was around a lot of them in my life. Some of them were kind of strange people, but others were wonderful. My parents collected clown figurines and had a nice array of them. I inherited several of them after my mother’s death, but they still remain boxed up. My wife doesn’t want them on display in the house. I probably need to make some kind of space in my office for them.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. You got a different impression of them than most people did, because you worked with them. Regardless of what job a person has, they’re going to work with some wonderful people and some that are strange. Your clown figures, to you, are a reminder of your parents and probably some people you worked with. I’d say finding a place for them in your office would be a good thing…

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  7. Great take on the prompt. It’s a toss-up for me if I like the clown or not. I’ve been terrified by them and then there are others that I just adore how cute they are. I loved dressing up as one for Halloween. I’m wondering if you’ve heard of the singer Mike Geier Puddles Pity Party?! Happy Saturday!

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  8. I did not know about Gacy and his clown paintings. Good for the rich guy who bought and destroyed. Who would want those sitting around?

    I was never frightened by clowns either as I remember Bozo and Red Skelton as a child. They were good clowns, fun for the kiddies and adults alike. I’m not sure what brings on that fear, but I bet it’s tough being a clown if a child screams and runs away at a birthday party. (Let’s hope that doesn’t happen often.)

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    1. I certainly wouldn’t want a painting by a serial killer on my wall, that’s for sure.

      I think Stephen King and Pennywise have more to do with the scary clown thing than anything. Never liked him anyay…

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  9. I looked at you video and wondered why Bozo was wearing red. When I watched Bozo on WPIX in NYC he wore blue! And his show was on after school.

    Got this from Wikipedia

    Unlike many other shows on television, “Bozo the Clown” was mostly a franchise as opposed to being syndicated, meaning that local TV stations could put on their own local productions of the show complete with their own Bozo. Another show that had previously used this model successfully was fellow children’s program Romper Room. Because each market used a different portrayer for the character, the voice and look of each market’s Bozo also differed slightly. One example is the voice and laugh of Chicago’s WGN-TV Bob Bell, who also wore a red costume throughout the first decade of his portrayal.

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    1. I remember Bob Bell started out wearing a blue costume, then switched to red. Or maybe it was always red and I didn’t know it because we had a black-and-white set. I know the Bozo in the cartoons wore a blue suit. Bell’s wig also stuck up more than the others I’ve seen. There was an article in the Tribune about Bell that said he would take the wigs home and cut them up when they got worn out. He was an interesting guy. In addition to Bozo, he was an announcer for the station, and for a while in the afternoons he played Andy Starr, who was supposed to be the elderly janitor for a theater where they showed “Three Stooges” shorts. He had three different voices, one for each function.

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  10. I knew a guy who worked for the same company I did who knew Andy The Clown. Grew up in same neighborhood. He used to say that he was never a clownish type of person; just started showing up at games dressed as a clown and his “act” just grew and grew. I didn’t know that he was asked to stop when the moved to the new ballpark. By the way, watch those White Sox this year!

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    1. Things could be quite exciting at 35th and the Dan Ryan this year. I’ll be sure to follow as well as I can. I still get Gameday Audio, which gives me access to radio broadcasts of all the games in the majors, as well as recordings of the games I miss. All that for $20 a year.

      What I remember was that Reinsdorf and/or Einhorn were trying to change the image of the team when they moved across the street, and had “Ribbie” and “Roobarb” to entertain the kids. I guess they thought Andy would detract from that, not that Ribbie and Roobarb are anywhere to be found today (I guess they have Southpaw now). People were furious, and with good reason, because they weren’t exactly nice about it…

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  11. Clowns never scared me, but I am not a huge fan of made-up faces. I did like the use of the clowns in the movie “Her Alibi”.

    I had a few blown glass clowns at one point in my life. They were neat. Bold and colorful. I haven’t thought about them for years.

    I think I went into the same gallery of Red Skelton’s painting although it could have been somewhere else.

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    1. Skelton was quite a person: entertainer, actor, clown (Freddy the Freeloader), painter, patriot, comedian, and a whole bunch of stuff I can’t remember. His paintings were remarkable, I think.

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    1. Dan Castellaneta, who does the voice of Krusty, grew up in Chicago watching Bozo’s Circus, and says that Krusty’s voice is based on the voice Bob Bell used when he played Bozo. Bell was a station announcer and sounded completely different when he was doing station ID’s and announcements.

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