Goodbye J.P.July 22, 2012 @ 9:33 pm (Updated: 4:19 pm - 7/23/12 )
In our Seattle youth, he was as steady and constant as a heartbeat.
As we would get ready for school in the morning, J.P Patches was there. I would always get up five minutes before J.P.'s show began, which meant I got up five minutes before J.P. Because, his morning always began with him asleep under that grandfather clock - a squirt of water and music starting his day and ours.
I'd watch the cartoons fly out of his cartoon pocket... wonder if he could really see us through his ICU2 TV. I'd follow everything on the Patches Pal checklist - because what kid didn't want to be a Patches Pal?
1. Mind Mommy and Daddy
2. Wash Hands, Face, Neck, and Ears
3. Comb Hair
4. Brush Teeth
5. Drink Milk
6. Eat All Your Food
7. Say Your Prayers
8. Share Your Toys
9. Put Toys Away
10. Hang Up Clothes
When we would get home from school, J.P was on again. Yelling down to the cellar at Gorst the Friendly Furple (oogachaka, oogachaka)... he'd battle Boris S. Wart - the second meanest man in the world.. And always there was Gertrude, Ketchikan the Animal Man and so much more.
Chris Wedes - aka J.P.Patches - created an incredible world for all of us to watch. It was a time when local television was innovative and daring. As an adult, I would watch old episodes of the J.P.Patches show and realize how it could be enjoyed on two very different levels. Wholesome and fun for kids - hilarious and cutting edge for older Patches Pals.
One of my sweetest joys when I first got my talk show on KIRO was the day I had a voice mail message from Chris/J.P. My idol was calling to tell me that he liked my show. I cannot begin to tell you what a thrill and honor that was coming from him. I had him in studio with me a few days later. It was supposed to be a 15 minute interview - he ended up staying for two hours. I didn't want it to end.
Over the 18 years since, we would talk often - both on and off the air. And every time, there was that voice inside my head telling me, "Ytalking to J.P. - how cool is that?". On Monday's show, I will replay my final conversation with Chris from when he announced his retirement last year.
Today's kids have clowns as role models, but they're named Miley, Kim Kardashian, and The Situation. I will be forever grateful that my generation had J.P.Patches.
Chris Wedes died this weekend at the age of 84. It is impossible to overstate the impact he had on everyone who grew up in this area in the 60's and 70's. He was as gracious and funny a person as you would ever meet.
I guess heaven needed a clown.
Photo courtesy: Nicole Russeff
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