Read to the end before you judge me.
My mother was in the Home Bureau. I’m pretty sure she joined the Home Bureau during World War II, to volunteer in her spare time (she had a day job working in a lab on organ transplant research) to make things out of cloth that could be sent off to the front line, to kill Hitler. Gun warmers. That sort of thing.
But the Home Bureau, and her involvement in it, continued, and one day she agreed to staff a table for the Home Bureau at a convention of some kind, held in the Albany Armory. Not the one on New Scotland Ave, the other one (for you Albanians). The big Richardsonian one that also held the Jerry Lewis Telethon (local incarnation).
So she dragged me along, and as usual, let me lose. My parents often let me lose. Sometimes they’d drive way out of town just before doing that, but I always found my way back. I thank my parents for that, because in later life, when I went to live in the remotest region of the African Rainforest for my PhD research, I did pretty good even while lost in the woods in the dark.
Anyway, there I was wandering around, there was a booth of some kind that had a small stage, and it featured Bozo the Clown. I watched a bit of the show, then later on, went around back. Bozo was standing there smoking a Lucky. I had acquired a piece of paper and a pen, and figured I’d get an autograph.
This was the first time I ever tried to get anyone’s autograph. Also, the last time.
I approached Bozo, me the 8 year old kid, and said, “Hey Bozo, can I have an autograph please?”
Bozo the Clown turned to me, exhaled a huge lungful of smoke into my face, and said, I kid you not, “Get away from me kid, you bother me.”
Much later in life I realized that he was quoting someone else.
Anyway, I backed off. I did cry, and I told my mother. But she was busy. I went on with my life not liking clowns much. Later on, when I found out how many other people don’t like clowns, I thought, “Huh. I guess Bozo got around.”
So, today, Bozo is dead at 89. I get the last laugh.
Frank Avruch played Bozo the Clown during that period of time. They say he was a great guy, with a heart of gold, and I have to believe them.
However, this incident was in Albany, New York, a fair distance from Bozo’s home base in Boston. So, I suspect the Bozo that was mean to 8 year old me was some local hack.
Either that, or Avruch had a hella sense of humor!