This weekend I visited the Mesa Historic Museum. A new exhibit had opened, one that caught my attention and wouldn’t let go. So I loaded my five-year-old son in the car and headed to see the Wallace & Ladmo exhibit. Not only was it the opening weekend, but Wallace and Pat McMahon were going to be there to sign autographs. Even though Ladmo had passed away more than a decade ago, they still were going to hand out Ladmo bags to a few lucky individuals.
All day leading up to the event I had their theme song running through my head, “Ho-ho, Ha-ha, Hee-hee, Ha-ha…” The local morning kids’ show ran for thirty-six years. Being born in 1976, I only caught the last thirteen. My dad had watch since he was a child and made sure his children experienced the same. It became morning ritual to turn on the television at seven and left on till eight. When our mornings got too busy to watch, it still needed to be on in the background. To us, it was as important as eating a good breakfast.
I tend not to get choked up when celebrities pass away. It’s a symptom of life from kings to beggars, no getting around it. In 1994, when Ladmo died of lung cancer, it struck me. It was one of the saddest days of my life. I remember going to work and passing the marquee for the three screen cinema at the mall. Someone changed the sign to read, “We will miss you Ladmo”. I stopped in my tracks. I needed to take some extra time to compose myself before clocking in for work. He was friend to every man, woman and child in the state of Arizona. When he passed, it wasn’t just another figure from TV. He was family.
So here was a chance, for one last time, to meet the rest of my morning family. The exhibit held several of the costumes worn by the actors, along with some of the props. Photos lined the walls, cataloging their thirty-six year run. Encased in glass and propped on a pedestal, one Ladmo bag. A paper lunch sack filled with Twinkies, ding-dongs, and the like. My son unfortunately was too young to appreciate these items from my past.
In the next building over, Wallace and Pat sat and signed autographs. Wallace might have been a bit slower to speech, but he still had his wit and sense of humor. Pat told story after story. I know there is no way to rewind the clock, but for the briefest of moments, I felt like I was back in front of the TV screen, eating my Cheerios and feeling like all is right in the world.