Even at a young age, Minnesota native Chris Wedes had wit beyond his years. With an animated face and less-then-shy nature, he never shied from the spotlight.

I like being on the stage, he said. I did a lot of little theater work. I did some acting in collage.

After college, Wedes was drafted and sent overseas to fight in Korea. When he returned, he got a job as a director and part-time talent at a local TV station in Saint Paul.

It's there where Wedes first donned the make-up of JP Patches. A couple of years later, he got what would be a life changing phone call from Seattle.

He said we'd like to have you come over to Seattle and do J.P. Patches, said Wedes.

Even though he knew nothing about the city, he took the job.

I actually took a pay cut to come here, he said. I was making $800 dollars a month and I came out here for $600.

On February 10, 1958, three weeks after Wedes and his family arrived in Seattle, the J.P. Patches show became the first show ever broadcast live on KIRO-TV.

But would it last? Even Wedes had his doubts.

It's always in the back of your head, he said. Are people watching the program?

He found the answer at J.P.'s first public appearance.

Had a huge crowd. That was the first time I got out into the public and signed autographs and met all the kids and after that, it just grew, he said.

It not only grew, it became a northwest institution. The show ran for the next 23 years, making it the longest running locally-produced children's television programs in the U.S.

It's a time Wedes hoped his fans would never forget.

Patches pals should remember for just the joy and the fun that they had, he said.

Read or Share this story: