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J.P. Patches Will Never Die (R.I.P. Chris Wedes)

July 26, 2012

Maybe you don’t know Julius Pierpont Patches, AKA J.P. Patches, the Mayor of the City Dump, but every kid from the great Northwest knows JP.

Chris Wedes, the actor who portrayed J.P. Patches for 58 years passed away this week and Facebook is teaming with R.I.P. J.P. (at least mine is, where many friends are from Seattle).  But Mr. Patches will never die, only the actor who played him.

Patches had a twice-a-day children’s TV show for decades. I was a proud member of the Patches Pals, having appeared  on the show twice.  Truthfully, it would have only be once because J.P. scared the heck out of me onstage.  I was an itsy-bitsy kid, lined up to say hello to mom and dad, only the set was distracting me.  When it came my turn to speak, I was looking at the back wall.  J.P. placed his big paw on my head and attempted to twist my face toward the camera.  Apparently I was not facing the direction he thought I was because he twisted my head the wrong direction.  I had no choice but to follow it in around in complete circle, surprising the clown who glowered at me (away from the camera).  Now if you’re 5 years old and anyone glowers, it’s bad, but when it’s a clown doing the glowering it’s worse!  Fortunately, Bob Newman in one of his many personas (I don’t recall which one) apologized for J.P. afterwards. JP Patches & Gertrude

This was not the reason Bob Newman was my hero.  It was because the man played 14 different roles on the show, often many in the same episode.  Best known as Gertrude, a cross-dressing clown with a five-o’clock shadow and crush on J.P. (and suddenly it becomes clear why so many Seattlites have gender issues…), he was also Ketchikan the Animal Man and the second meanest man in the world.

Bob is still alive, afflicted with MS and a great sense of humor.  J.P. Patches has his own Wikipedia page, but Bob Neman and Gertrude does not.  This is criminal and I may have to join the wiki to express my disapproval.  Seriously.  I thought J.P. was the bomb, but I was always a Gertrude kid (BOY, does that sound bad!).  The two of them (Chris and Bob, not Bob and Gertrude) are Seattle icons.  Literally.  Check out the bronze statue in downtown Seattle.  

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