As we age, we become more like our parents and mine gave me an appreciation for “I Love Lucy,” the Beach Boys, county fairs and football. My mom is a Lucy fan and growing up, I remember watching reruns of the sitcom and falling in love with the funny redhead.
Luck was in my favor as I was visiting my parents the weekend of Aug. 6 which would have been the “I Love Lucy” star’s 105th birthday and her hometown of Celoron (about a 90-minute drive south of my parent’s Western New York home) was celebrating the occasion with the installation of a new bronze Lucille Ball sculpture to replace what has been dubbed “Scary Lucy.”
A Tale of Two Lucys: Scary Lucy and Beloved Lucy
Feel free to Google the details about “Scary Lucy,” which is certainly not the official name, and read how in 2012 the commissioned sculpture upset Celoron residents and “I Love Lucy” fans. I imagine if the sculpture had been installed during the “I Love Lucy” heyday of the 1950s, there would have been much less publicity about the unfavorable sculpture. Thanks to the power of the internet and social media, images of “Scary Lucy” went viral quicker than a chocolate candy conveyor belt. It resulted in the formation of a Facebook group called “We Love Lucy! Get Rid of this Statue” and funds were raised for a new sculpture representing a more realistic version of the beloved First Woman of Comedy.
I convinced my parents this was a not-to-be-missed once-in-a-lifetime experience and since the plan was to visit the Eden Corn Festival (a slice of Americana) also south of my parents’, it was a relatively easy sell. My Buffalo BFF joined us, because she’s always up for an adventure, and we made the drive over rolling roads through Western New York countryside to Lucille Ball Memorial Park where we missed the unveiling (and free cupcakes) but arrived in time to see the artist and other dignitaries, including Celoron Mayor Scott Schrecengost, and meet Joe Mayer, who, according to him, was one of six actors (three sets of twins) who played Little Ricky on “I Love Lucy.”
While most everyone was huddled around the new, lovely Lucille Ball sculpture by Carolyn Palmer, we were taking a look at “Scary Lucy” and yes, indeed, it is frightening. There’s something about the smile and eyes making the statute dang creepy. While snapping our photos, a Lucy fan said we must visit the Lucy Desi Museum in downtown Jamestown, which made it easier to figure out what we were going to do before the Corn Festival.
“I Love Lucy” Memorabilia and More
Twenty dollars per person later (okay, because my mom is of the golden age, she received a dollar discount and my dad opted to explore downtown Jamestown, in which many places appeared to be closed on this Saturday), we walked through television history. On display in Desilu Studios was memorabilia relating to Lucy and Desi’s television life including replicas of sets, some of Lucy’s wardrobe including her black and white polka dot dress, and a glove with thimbles capping each fingertip.
My favorite part was trying out for the Vitameatavegamin commercial! Remember that classic “I Love Lucy” episode when Lucy got drunk after drinking spoonful after spoonful of Vitameatavegamin? Desilu Studios gives visitors the opportunity to read the script in front of a camera and complete with a teaspoon and (empty) bottle of Vitameatavegamin. In real-time, it’s displayed on a 1950s-looking television. Take a look at this video and see how I did. Spoiler: I’m keeping my day job! (Tip: if you’re having someone record your audition, have them film the TV and not you behind the counter)
The Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, entered through a separate building from Desilu Studios, offers a more personalized look into the lives of the talented couple beginning with their upbringing, brief (by today’s standards) courtship, marriage, careers, family and death. The museum points how Lucy had her heart in her hometown of Jamestown. In “I Love Lucy,” names of some of her friends were used in the show, such as “McGillicuddy,” Lucy’s maiden name in the comedy.
The museum, open daily, is a must for die-hard “I Love Lucy” fans and anyone with an appreciation for pop culture. I suppose it was because it was her birthday but I saw several women dressed like Lucy in the museum and another woman had an “I Love Lucy” tattoo on her arm, complete with Lucy and Des in a heart. If you pass through Western New York without stopping in Jamestown to pay homage to “I Love Lucy,” you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!
Note: Purchase tickets to enter the Desilu Studios and the Lucy Desi Museum from a kiosk outside Desilu Studios.
Lucille Ball Memorial Park
21 Boulevard Ave.
Jamestown, N.Y. 14701
Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum and Desilu Studios
2 West 3rd St.
Jamestown, NY 14701
Tel: (716) 484-0800
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to support my traveling habit and this blog.