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Sweet Tea Is Not Clowning Around: The Case Of Bozo's Missing Hand

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we talk with columnist and writer, Jay Grelen, whose book Sweet Tea Times Volume 1, Edition 1, collects his popular Sweet Tea newspaper columns, published by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from 2004-2011, and we debut a brand new Sweet Tea column, never before seen or heard: "The Case of Bozo's Missing Hand."

Grelen’s story introduces us to Bozo the Clown, played by Gary Weir, who graced Little Rock television airwaves from 1966 to 1991 in an afterschool program for children. But in Grelen’s telling, there is mystery:

"Bozo’s right hand was missing, and he was a bit worried. He had left it on Main Street, in a square of wet concrete sidewalk, back in 1991. One day in the summer of 2014, he and Linda, his wife, had stopped for a visit. His hand wasn’t there," Grelen writes.

"If you mention Gary Weir to someone in Central Arkansas, your listener may not recall the name. But if you say “Bozo” to anyone who grew up watching Little Rock television during the’60s, ’70s and ’80s,

"Several times out of 10, the former kid’s response will include Bozo’s trademark question:

'Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?'

"For 25 years, Monday through Friday, Bozo’s image – his orange Titanic hair and greased-on smile, eyebrows that outarched the Golden Arches – filled Little Rock television screens."

So join us for a journey into Little Rock’s television past. 

This program was made possible through funding from the Arkansas Humanities and the National Endowment of the Humanities.

We dedicate this program to Ben Fry and would like to thank all the musicians who contributed to the show, including:

Adam Simon

Listen to the song, "New Faces in the Dark."

The Mallett Brothers

Listen to the song, "Lights Along the River."

Randall Shreve

Listen to the song, "Coming Home."

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