Clown's were a big part of my life growing up.
They were hobo's, and traveled by trains that they hopped onto. They were kind to all kids but especially to run aways. Runaways that found the hobo clown camps next to the train tracks not only got to share a meal of hotdog's cooked over a fire, but also got quarters pulled out of their ears - and quarters were worth a lot back then, before they were walked home and seen safely inside. Only then would the hobo clown return to his camp.
I loved it when the circus came to the city. To the best of my knowledge, the circus never came to my town. The television would have the most wonderful commercials. They would start with strong strains of music, and on would come the elephants, trapeze artists, and the clowns. Clowns that smiled and waved. Clowns that wore squirty water flowers in their lapels.
One year my mother and grandfather bought us to see the Ringling Brothers circus at Madison Square Garden. It was huge and hard to really see the many act going on in the three rings. Later in life, I preferred Cole Brother's Circus because they played in a smaller arena and so the acts were easier to see.
And then there was Ronald from McDonald's. Another cool clown
that took kids for rides on his flying hamburger or on trips through McDonald's Land. McDonald's Land was a pretty cool place! It had things like hamburger patches and shakes falls and neat, muppet type critters that liked french fries.
But my favorite clown was Bozo! He was another clown that just loved kids! He never talked down to kids, he honestly would scoot down on his heels in order to talk face to face with kids.
Bozo had a show that was part cartoon, featuring Bozo and his child friend Butch, dressed like a Ring Master. The show also featured Bozo clowning around, and one lucky kid each show was picked to be Ring Master that day. What a lucky kid! Boy or girl, it didn't matter, and they received piles and piles of gifts!
And then the climate changed. Why? Was it because of all the recessions of the 1970's? Was it the disillusionment of the Kennedy assassinations, Watergate and the Vietnam War? I don't
know, but suddenly, the kid loving clowns were no longer kid loving, trustable or even funny. We were inundated with movies like "Killer Clowns," "It" and many others. I can't tell you how many people I've met who think that clowns are creepy!
Why? Is it because the makeup of clowns obscures their emotions? Or is because the makeup obscures the very identity of the clown?
And then there was POGO the Clown
Pogo was a clown that serial killer John Wayne Gacy invented after he joined the Moose Club. A group within the Moose Club invented their own clown persona's, name, make-up, and costume. Then they would appear for free at charity events, visit children in hospitals and do other charitable things. You'll notice that Pogo's makeup isn't rounded like Ronald McDonald's, Bozo's, or the circus clowns did. It was as if Pogo didn't care if he scared children. Contrary to some reports though, Gacy never used Pogo to capture children. Pogo was a scary clown, but at least he wasn't a killer clown.
God Bless all the circus clowns that remain friendly and entertaining through these times we live in!
I still like clowns, but I do admit, I do keep my eye on them these days.
And that is sad.