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.