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Dreams of Bozo

March 16, 2014

This morning I awoke from a dream with Bozo the Clown in it. I don’t remember what happened in the dreams now. But I imagined that was my sign that it was time to tell my Bozo stories.

When I was a kid Bozo’s Circus on WGN-9 TV in Chicago was a sensation. I remember seeing and watching Bozo since I was a toddler. Bozo (Bob Bell), Cooky the Clown (Roy Brown) and Ringmaster, Mr. Ned (Ned Locke), put on a good show for kids with funny skits, games featuring kids from the audience like the Grand Prize Game/Bozo Buckets for prizes, circus acts that would amaze, and cartoons, including one about Bozo himself. It was an entertaining and memorable hour of television each weekday.

Getting tickets to the Bozo show to be one of the ‘cast of thousands’ was the hottest ticket in town. Mothers wanting tickets to the show to bring their families would have to apply for tickets many years in advance (as many as 7 years from what I understand) as there was a long waiting list to be on the show. My mom was thinking ahead when she applied when we were very little, so by the time I was around 9 years old, our chance to be on the Bozo show came. It was a kid in Chicagoland’s dream come true.

We had a block of tickets and took some relatives with us. Here is a photo of our group outside the WGN studio after the show.  I’m the one below and between the “W” and “G” in WGN.

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I remember waiting to get into the show. The producers were looking for kids to be in the games they had during the show. My cousin John and I were thrilled when they selected us to play one of the games! Our thrill was short-lived, as one of the producers apologized and said they were sorry, but they would need to pick some taller kids for the game they were going to be playing that day. We were crushed! Then we saw that the kids they chose for the game weren’t any taller than John and I were. Then we were mad!  The producers tried to pacify us by buying us off with some prizes. I admit, it kind of worked to ease the blow. I remember getting some gum and a giant Slo-Poke, a caramel candy on a stick. It was huge. I had that Slo-Poke for a long time, and I tried to finish it too, but after a few years had to give up cause that old Slo-Poke was getting hard and gross from years of drool (Sure, now I realize how gross that was, sucking on a candy and putting it back in the box for later and then sucking on it again later, but I was a kid…and it was candy.).  Occasionally when John and I get together we still speak of the injustice of not getting to play the game on Bozo. We are both very competitive and imagine we would have won, and got some amazing prizes. Now we’ll never know.

Otherwise we enjoyed the show and getting the chance to meet Bozo and Cooky, and to get cherished memories and photos to take with us to keep always.

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Here we are with Bozo and Cooky after the show.   I’m the one in front of my beloved Bozo, the one somewhat lost behind the giant Slo-Poke.

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Do you have any special memories of Bozo? Why not write a note about them and share them in the Comments section below?

 

 

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