Famed amusement park gives birth to comic duo, and to a lifetime of wondrous memories

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Editor’s note: Kyle Maki helped guide Wrangler News for almost 15 years, during which he matured from high school graduate, to four years at ASU, to a full-fledged part of our small company’s management team. He left in 2012 to pursue a career in medical-services marketing, however he still is involved in the community and remains a member of the Kyrene Corridor Rotary Club, for which he was a founder and served a term as president. The recollections that follow chart some of Kyle’s growing-up years in the Valley and describe what he says have remained among his fondest memories of this area and its environs.

By Kyle Maki
As a native Arizonan, born and raised in Phoenix and growing up in the ‘80s, I have seen a lot of change in my beloved hometown. Through it all, I consider myself an ambassador for the state and never pass up an opportunity to point out things that are unique to Arizona and that have touched my life along the way. The list includes Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, the legacy of Pat Tillman and the Wallace and Ladmo Show to name just a few. Wallace and Ladmo were unequivocally a huge part of my childhood.

The show has been a Valley icon and, in many ways, a piece of Americana. It was our very own slice of local entertainment history but, because of the many years it survived on the air and in our memories, it will go down as one of the most successful children’s broadcasts in the annals of American memorabilia. I feel fortunate to have grown up here during the time of the show’s heyday because it really shaped the center of our social calendar. We watched the show on television every morning and attended frequent live appearances at Legend City, the popular bygone local amusement park that thrived in the 1960s and ‘70s between Tempe and Phoenix. I even had the opportunity to attend a few broadcasts and sit in the studio audience. Seeing the production live was unreal and, for many, provided a real-life opportunity to be selected as a recipient of one of the highly sought-after Ladmo Bags.

(Unfortunately, I never did get to find myself among those lucky few.) For anyone who didn’t grow up watching the show, there’s no way to fully appreciate the allure of the Ladmo Bag. But for those in the know, it all makes sense. The Ladmo Bag was priceless, and every child in the studio audience hoped they’d be selected to receive one—not likely considering only a few were reserved for a soldout auditorium. The bag’s contents could be purchased for about $2, but you can’t put a price on the memory of winning one. For those who don’t know, we’re talking about a mere brown bag, about the size of a lunch sack, containing a soda, some sweet and salty treats and a few coupons.

Nothing fancy, but somehow they made it seem magical. In April, nearly 60 years since the first show was produced, The Wallace and Ladmo Foundation was announced. The foundation will provide assistance to children who wish to pursue a career in the performing arts. An artist is currently working on a life-size statue of the cast of The Wallace and Ladmo Show that will adorn the grounds of the Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix. This is an amazing gift to the community because it helps to ensure that the legacy of the Wallace and Ladmo Show will never die and can continue to play a role in enriching our lives while impacting future generations of Valley youth. The show has been memorialized with displays at various loc al museums, including a permanent exhibit at the Tempe branch of the Arizona Historical Society. As Arizonans, we have a lot to be thankful for. The Wallace and Ladmo Show certainly deserves to be on the list. So, as the Wallace, Ladmo and crew always signed off, “Thanks for tuning in.”

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