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fre·mo·cen·trist (f'mō-sĕn'trĭst) n. one who deeply believes all in the universe revolves around the Seattle neighborhood of Fremont - fremocentric adj. see Kirby Lindsay
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fre·mo·cen·trist (f'mō-sĕn'trĭst) n. one who deeply believes all in the universe revolves around the Seattle neighborhood of Fremont - fremocentric adj. see Kirby Lindsay
           The Archives: Published Oct 9, 2009 - The Fremocentrist


by Kirby Lindsay

J.P. sandblast img1Last Tuesday passers by may have noticed the caution tape and heavy equipment surrounding Fremont’s First Clowns.  ‘Late for the Interurban’, a sculpture by Kevin Pettelle, of local legends J.P. Patches and Gertrude doing a Do-si-do stands along North 34th Street approximately 200 yards from the intersection of Fremont Avenue.  The statue stands upon paving stones and on October 6 another 17 of the pavers were etched with words for posterity.

Etching In History

According to Nancy Nordstrand, Executive Assistant at History House (790 N. 34th), the company Kenadar did the on-site engraving.  After cleaning, the workman covered the bricks with a rubber mask that exposed areas to be etched.  Using a garnet and aluminum mix, he basically sandblasted words into the patio of pavers.  Next came cleaning off the thick layer of sand created and, finally, filling in the words with black grout.

Moisture Fest img2

Numerous engraved bricks surrounded the sculpture at its unveiling August 17, 2008, and they have such a polish that the words appear printed rather than engraved.  Nordstrand estimated 400 pavers remain available for purchase, and she hopes to have more etched next summer, and the one after.  Seeking a particular paver – with a personal message to J.P., Gertrude, or general posterity – only enhances visits to the sculpture.

History House stands within sight and Nordstrand reported, “always there are people over, looking – they are looking so intently that they are probably coming specifically,” to visit the dancing pair.  “I think it is great,” she went on, “people are always stopped – even people who don’t know the story.  People are coming to History House, from in town and out of town,” to ask about J.P.

Nordstrand may be prejudiced – she admits to being a Patches Pal.  “I met J.P. when I was six, in Puyallup,” she explained.  Decades later, when work at History House required a call to Chris Wedes, the man behind the J.P. Patches face-paint, she mentioned meeting him.  As she recalled, with barely a hesitation he answered, ‘Oh yea, I thought I recognized your voice.’

A Place For The Pals

J.P. sandblast img3History House staff have taken a very active role as caretakers of the northwest icons, and Patches Pals, especially those who met their hero, will benefit.  “We had some J.P. items,” Nordstrand explained.  They’ve received donations of original props - including the tricycle J.P. rode in the show – and some exact replicas, donated by people once connected to the show, including Wedes.  Now, they’ve begun construction of a permanent replica of the J.P. Patches show set, to stand in History House.

“Patches Pals are excited about having a display,” Nordstrand admitted.  “They like the casual, fun atmosphere of History House,” she suggested, “It is such local history, such a good fit.”

Pavers can still be purchased, with the money going to maintenance of the sculpture and J.P.’s favorite charity, the Children’s Hospital Foundation.  A donation of $100 buys two lines of text, and $125 buys three lines.  To order a paver, go to, email to or call 206/675-8875.

For those who wish to donate without making a statement, they can slip nickels, dimes and quarters into a canister near the statue, beside the ICU2TV and while saying hello to ‘Esmeralda’.

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©2010 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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