The City of St. Petersburg
Policewoman Pat and Yabby, real friends to the children of Tampa Bay
Although Pat did not star on a daily TV show she would often appear on Mary Ellen or Uncle Bruce. Pat, a volunteer for the St. Petersburg Police Department, would travel from school to school with her ventriloquist dummy "Yabby" preaching safety to the children of Pinellas County. Yabby's name was an acronym for "Youth Aid Bureau Befriends Youth."
Dressed in the green and white uniform of the St. Pete Police Department, Pat was very talented and always a pleasure to watch. Who knows how many kids' lives she and Yabby saved by telling them to "look both ways" and "don't accept rides from strangers"?
In real life, Pat Hutchinson was a local mom who had grown up in Detroit with vaudevillian parents. Her father, Ellis Bridge, was a ventriloquist who taught the technique to his daughter. By the time she was 7 years old Pat was already an accomplished ventriloquist and appeared with movie star Lupe Velez in a Detroit show. Pat was billed as 'the only child ventriloquist in the United States.'
After graduating from high school, Pat joined the USO and appeared around the country during World War II. Later, Pat performed on radio and TV in Detroit before marrying a career serviceman and starting a family. In 1960, the Hutchinsons moved to St. Pete and Pat contemplated retiring from show biz. Occasional work at parties and clubs trickled in and one night Pat was performing at an Altrusa Club fund raising event. After the show Pat found herself sitting next to St. Pete Police Chief E. Wilson Purdy. Her talent and a willingness to promote education came up in conversation and the Chief thought that Pat's ventriloquism might be a good way to reach the children of Pinellas County.
Pat's and Yabby's appearances before thousands of schoolchildren showed immediate results in a lower number of reported cases of molestation. Pat handed out literature to the students, appeared in safety films, and gained national recognition for her efforts.
In 1964, Pat's husband re-joined the military and they moved back to Michigan. By 1975, Pat and the family returned to the Suncoast. Yabby was renamed "Gabby" and Pat resumed preaching safety. In a newspaper account from the time, Pat was also involved in real estate.
Us Suncoast 'baby boomers' owe Pat and Yabby a big 'thanks' for all their efforts on our behalf.