For most people clowns were an amusing distraction until John Gacy created an image problem. We all grew up watching Bozo and before Bozo there was Clarabell on the Howdy Doody Show. To this day McDonalds is still trying to put a clowns face on it’s unhealthy food. In our house we learned early on that clowns weren’t always funny. It didn’t take John Gacy to wake us up.
My dad and three of his buddies from the Knights of Columbus, (I don’t think they’re affiliated with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan) started a little clown troop back in the 1950’s. The reason given was to entertain children, but I think it was a way to get out of the house and knock back a few beers while they ‘rehearsed’. Sometimes for adult parties they would do a skit dressed up as gorillas, and other times they would dress up as women. I distinctly remember trying on my dads falsies that he kept in his clown trunk in our basement. For the young people, falsies were what women used before silicone implants.
My dad and his clown buddies would provide entertainment at various functions like parades, Christmas parties, picnics, and children’s wards at hospitals. Before he would leave to do this, he’d put his makeup and costume on at home. Because we didn’t put a hold on our bad behavior while he did this, often times he would have to mete out discipline while in full clown makeup. There is nothing scarier than a clown in big shoes chasing you around the house with a belt. What really bothered me about my dad being a clown was that he would be really nice and funny to all these strange kids, and they would laugh and be having a good time. I just wondered, why couldn’t he be that funny at home? The answer of course is that if he had spent more than a few hours with those kids he’d be chasing them around, cursing at them, and probably blow his big clown-hair wig.
I do have to admit that he and his clown buddies did throw pretty good parties. They just never had any clowns at them.