I was quietly at home when memories stirred me. I knew my “Joy” was at home waiting for her grand nephew and niece to come to her door on a “trick or treat” mission. I knew she was not expecting me. I decided to join the “trick or treat” action anyway.
My daughter found my stored clown supplies. I daubed some paint on my face, put on my wig and hat, and stuck on my red nose and went with artificial roses to the apartment of my “Joy”.
I never go to Joy’s apartment without invitation. But I was bold on Halloween eve, and when she opened the door at my knocking I totally surprised and pleased her. Soon her nephew’s wife and their young son and daughter arrived. The younger of the two was a bit fearful of the old clown, but he accepted some chocolate candy from me, and waved shyly when he left. They may always remember the old clown who is their aunt’s friend.
College Mennonite Church has organized the congregation into “neighborhoods.” Early Sunday evening was the time for our neighborhood to have a social dinner. Our leader asked me to lead some table games for seniors. I tried to find something suitable on the internet. But the internet failed me. After consulting with “Joy” and the leader, I decided to introduce my clown character and tell his story. After dinner I excused myself to go to the men’s room where I had stored my paint, wig, hat, mirror, colored shirt, and tattered coat.
I reentered the dining room as Zeke, the happy hobo. I told the surprised group about Sunnyside Retirement Village in Sarasota and its clown troupe and how we visited other nursing homes to entertain with simple skits. I tried to demonstrate. I asked some of the ladies if they would like to see something beautiful that God had made. When they nodded yes, I held my mirror so they could see their own faces.
I sat beside Joy, and she ran away in disgust at the old hobo. I found an artificial flower in the room, and offered it to her as a peace gesture and won her back.
I told them about the time the veterans at Sunnyside sponsored a memorial day parade and asked the clown troupe to participate. I reminded the other clowns that I was conscientious objector to war and asked how I could be a part of the parade. Oh, the lady clowns said, we’ll make a peace sign for you to carry. So the clowns followed the parading military units.
When our mentor from the Shriners lodge visited us, we told him what at had happened. He said that is the way it should be. Clowns were never allowed to join the memorial day parades until it was settled that they should march at the end of the parade because peace comes after war. The clowns were symbols of peace. I had a sticker that said, “Celebrating God’s Joy through Laughter.”
One of the neighborhood members was a 94 yr. old woman. As the group was disbursing, she and I fell into conversation. She told me that it had been a happy day for her because her 89 year old brother in Sarasota had been baptized on this very day. In what church was he baptized, I asked. You probably wouldn’t know anything about it, she said. It is the Apostolic Christian Church. Oh, I said, I’ve driven past that church many times. A sister of that church was a resident at Sunnyside. She arranged for me to have a chat with the elder pastor of the church. We had much in common.