Send In The Clowns

Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 10:28 am
By: Doug Lund
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There’s a black pick-up truck that is regularly roaring by our house day and night with an exhaust system so loud it makes the windows and our nerves rattle. Its driver apparently takes great joy in revving the big engine up to about 5 thousand RPM’s and spinning his wheels on the still icy streets of our normally tranquil neighborhood. I get so angry I fantasize about putting on a face mask along with my heavy parka with the hood up, then standing out in the middle of the street armed with a baseball bat ready to take out one of his headlights next time he bellows by. I won’t, of course. The only parka I have has Keloland News embroidered all over it..plus I’m too chicken for any such Rambo tactics whether justice is on my side or not. Speaking of icy Sioux Falls city streets, it looks like, once again, no blade shall touch the snow covered asphalt where the people actually live.

Oooh, a little cranky this morning are we? Nothing another cup of coffee can’t fix. (hang on a sec.)

Okay..I feel better now.

The subject I really wanted to visit about today?

clowns happy

Clowns.

 It’s time to stop picking on them. Stop drinking the Hollywood Kool-Aid that portray clowns as evil, creepy creatures..like The Simpson’s Krusty, Batman’s Joker, and Steven King’s Pennywise. It’s become fashionable to bash them..to fear them. There’s even a name for this entertainment industry induced fear of clowns; coulrophobia.

Oh, there are a few real life exceptions, like mass murderer, John Wayne Gacy who tortured and killed 33 young men burying them in his basement and backyard.

clown gacy pogo

 In his spare time, Gacy was known to delight children at parties dressed up as Pogo the Clown.  But he is not representative of the clowns from my youth; not by a long shot. In fact, I want you all to know that I actually lived with a clown in my growing up years and survived just fine, thank you. When we moved into the new house my dad built with his own two hands in the early 50’s, my mother tried her best to make up for the fact that he included just ONE bedroom for 3 boys by telling us how much fun bunk beds will be and decorating the room in a fun circus décor, complete with colorful rings around the ceiling light fixture and a switch plate cover in the shape of a clown whose nose activated the on/off  switch.  I wish I had a picture of it. Wait, you don’t suppose there might be an image on the inter..well, I’ll be darned.

clown switch plate

That’s him. Okay, maybe that’s a little creepy..especially since it remained in place over the light switch until we were all teenagers.

During my reporting years at KELO, I had occasion to visit with lots and lots of clowns from Ronald McDonald, Bozo, Weary Willy (not a big talker)  and most all of the 30 plus members of the El Riad Shrine Circus clowns..especially the delightful Hal Teslow.

clown teslow in makeup

Few took the business of being funny more seriously than Halowishes. Each Thursday, this retired construction contractor would spend an hour putting on his clown outfit..then spend three or more hours making the rounds at Sioux Valley Hopsital visiting patients and passing out stickers that read, “I hugged a clown today.” 

clown teslow squeek my nose

In all his years working the corridors, not one person, including stoic consertvitive midwesterners,  refused a hug and no child screamed in fear when Hal came in the room  unless they’d been warned by their nervous nelly parents beforehand about being wary of any and all strangers.

clown teslow hugging

When my story about Hal Teslow ran on Keloland sometime back in the 90’s, I had the wonderfully haunting..eye moisture inducing melody “Send In The Clowns” quietly playing in the background which managed to turn a few of my colleagues into mush upon viewing it in the editing room..which made me happy and happy is what clowns are all about; or should be.

A recent Google search revealed that Hal died in 1999. I sure hope there were lots of folks around to give him a big hug before he passed on.  He was such a wonderful guy with a heart as big as his clown shoes who, I’m sure, would be sad to see the bad rap he and his fellow comic performers in orange wigs and make-up are getting these days.

But where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns…
Well, maybe next year.

2 Comments

  1. Doug Lund says:

    Just a reminder that Lund at Large will appear on Tuesdays and Fridays before noon right here on Keloland.com.

  2. Christy says:

    Reading your blog about clowns makes me think way back when my older sister was obsessed with painting clowns. I had inherited a handmade clown suit for Halloween. So, my mom let her paint my face . . . it was permanent makeup. I was a clown for weeks. Still love ya sis!

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