One thing about having a baby is that it forces you to remember a lot of things from your childhood that you thought you forgot. So naturally every time Evie was playing with a frog I had to rasp, “FROGGY’S PAAAAAAAAD!”
For whatever reason, we didn’t have a local Bozo the Clown, instead we had our own equivalent named Happy the Hobo. It was essentially the same thing as Bozo. The show was called Happy’s Place and kids could come on the show to be in the audience. They would show cartoons and, in between, the kids would play games, etc. At one point all the kids got to come and stand in a long line and Happy (Mike Fry) would ask each kid a question. So, you were guaranteed to be on T.V. if you came. There was also a vaguely frog-shaped puppet named Froggy who mostly hosted a morning cartoon show on the same set. Being on Happy’s Place was sort of a local rite of passage. You can see a few videos here.
Happy was a local celebrity, nay, a god. He was the real deal too, I remember seeing him do back flips and stuff in the parade. He juggled, he made jokes, he did it all. His show had ALL the best cartoons. Any kid would have taken a bullet for him. One day he fell off the roof of the Happy Mobile and blew out his knee (apparently it is a rumor that he was doing a handstand at the time).
We were only on Happy’s Place one time, but my mom has the tape so I have seen it many times. I was wearing an iron-on Tyrannosaurus Rex shirt and Happy asked me if I would ride one. I snottily responded, “If I saw one.” My sister was sort of camera shy and giggly and Happy commented on that and had her giggle. My brother, however, stole the show. He was very little, maybe 3 or so, and wearing his very favorite California Raisins‘ tee-shirt. Happy asked him about it and he spontaneously burst into song: “I uuuuurd it troo the gape bine!” You could see that Happy totally didn’t expect it and quickly looked to the camera man (probably the only adult around that he knew) for confirmation with a smile on his face. It’s fantastic, I wish I had it on youtube.
So anyway, next came Cousin Happy and then a 3rd Happy the Hobo. Now, I don’t know that they were bad Hobo’s, but I didn’t like them. Perhaps I just got too old for the show. Perhaps the shoes they had to fill were just too big (get it, like clown shoes?) Perhaps it was just a job to them and their hearts were never in it. But all in all, I thought I was done with Happy’s Place. Then along comes Happy #4, Adrian Guenther.
In this incarnation, Happy was a little different. He was still a juggler, but he was a little goofier than the original Happy. Two additional characters came on board, Chester T. Fox (I assume because the show was on the Fox network) and Lawn Boy. Both were great additions to the show. Now that there were 3 people, they did more skits. Maybe it was because I was older, but I got the distinct impression that a lot of things they did they did because they thought they were funny. I’m not sure the kids were always in on the joke. It always just seemed like they were having so much of their own fun that you couldn’t help but enjoy it.
There were two promos (or maybe it was the intro?) that played over and over again that influenced my life. One was Happy telling Chester, “That’s nacho cheese!” (I realize that as I type that, the joke only makes sense out loud) which I found just hilarious. The second was Happy (after being tricked by Chester) saying, “You’re not a fox, you’re a weasel!” This single quote led to a roughly 6 month campaign by me and my brother to convince our dog that she was in fact, not a dog but a weasel.
So anyway, like Commander Mark, if this should ever reach the eyes of any of the people involved in the show I just want to say that you made a lot of kids happy. I hope you all got rich off the show, though I highly doubt it. But even if you didn’t, your work was not in vain.
If there are any readers out there who have Happy’s Place memories (hmm, I don’t think there really is), feel free to share!
P.S. While researching for this post, I came across another blog post about Happy’s Place. People really got into the comments with memories, etc. about Happy’s Place and other local celebrities so it is quite the trip down memory lane. There are even a few posts from the guy who was the voice of Froggy and from 4th Happy!