For some time now, I have had a morning ritual. I get up after my wife and sons head out to work so the bathrooms can be negotiated between four instead of five. Once the last slam of the door is heard I will rise and take my turn. I take my morning medications (which seem to be ever-increasing in numbers), turn on the computer and read my morning Bible chapter and devotionals. Then I turn to the news.
And there it was: Bozo was dead.
The demise of Bozo hit me as it would had it been a treasured friend. Bozo and I never met face to face, but he and I spent many afternoons together in the 1960s. Our television got three channels: KFSA Channel 5, KFPW Channel 40 (when it started broadcasting locally), and the Educational Channel 13, out of Fayetteville. Channel 13 was available depending on the clear skies, solar flares, and perhaps Aurora Borealis for all I knew. My neighbors, however, picked up Channel 8 KTUL from Tulsa, Oklahoma: the home of Bozo the Clown, Uncle Zeb and good cartoons.
My neighbors were Uncle Ben and his sister Mary Escalante. They were Mexican siblings in their golden years. Ben had grown children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren perhaps. His grandson was one of my best friends so, with those kinds of connections, I made sure to follow him to his grandfathers each weekday afternoon.
The cartoons were great in the Bozo Show! They were unavailable on Saturday’s line-up so they were usually always first-run cartoons. Wizzo the Wizard, Cookie the Cook, Professor Andy, and an unremembered lady singer, filled up the time between cartoons. Bozo played games, which we were certain we could easily win had we been there. He’d ask kids, “Do you love me 100, or 45?” with a heavy emphasis on the 45, making it sound larger to the uneducated masses, unlike us. They almost always chose the smaller number and we called them names as if they could hear us. Ben heard us and would yell and shush us in Spanish, which neither of us knew a word he was saying, but, like the stupid kids on television, we knew emphasis must mean something, so we shushed in English too.
Aunt Mary would bring us an afterschool snack which was usually one of the homemade tortillas that she had made earlier. Heated and slathered with real butter, those things were a treasure to behold.
“Rooty kazoo! Wowie Kazow! Old Bozo is my pal!”
So when I found out that Bozo had passed, I immediately stared into space, remembering those simple moments when television was fun and simple things like a tortilla made your day. I got filled with melancholy and nostalgia for the afternoon until I noticed the date on the story. It was from 2018. Bozo has been dead for a year. It didn’t matter to me really. Those memories were worth remembering.
Ben and Mary are both passed on now and my friend and I are no longer as close as I’d like us to be. I will always remember those happy times. I will also remember some of the wonderful vocabulary that I picked up from Ben. I get to use it occasionally at Wal-mart!
(Photo courtesy of Retroland)