Happy New Year to all! I trust you have had a safe and happy holiday season with friends, family, and loved ones.
The very first post that I published on this blog was Part 1 of my trip to Lucille Ball’s hometown, Jamestown, New York, where I visited the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum and other sites around the city honoring the famous couple. To begin this new year, I thought it only fitting to start with Lucy once more and finally give you Part 2 of my trip.
But first, some trivia! A really fun aspect of the I Love Lucy show (besides the obvious) is how the zany and lovable Lucy Ricardo character mirrors Ball’s own life in several ways.
- Lucy Ricardo was born in Jamestown, New York, just like Lucille Ball
- Marion Strong, one of Lucy Ricardo’s friends, was Lucille Ball’s childhood friend
- Lucy Ricardo mentions playing the saxophone in Celoron High School, the high school Lucille Ball attended
Bonus! The word “McGillicuddy” (Lucy Ricardo’s maiden name) was something that she and her friends called each other when they were young.
Lucille Ball had these similarities written into the script, no doubt adding a personal connection to the material, as well as enjoyment for her as a performer.
Before my trip, I read Lucy’s autobiography to further enhance my experience so I could put the pieces together while I was there. It was really fun seeing these places come to life and picturing Lucy in her stomping grounds before she took Hollywood and the world by storm.
Reading her book and seeing where she came from has led me to a greater understanding and appreciation of Lucy not only as a beloved and talented performer, but as an individual. I recommend both for Lucy fans and for those who are curious to learn more about the queen of comedy.
Now, off to Jamestown…
On August 6, 1911, in this little brown house, Lucille Ball came into the world delivered by her grandmother Flora Belle Hunt. There’s not much to see as the house is privately owned, but it’s definitely worth a drive by. The address is 69 Stewart Avenue in Jamestown.
After her birth, Lucy and her mother reunited with her father in Montana. Three years later they moved to Michigan when Lucy’s father died from typhoid fever at the tragically young age of twenty-eight. Lucy and her mother returned to Jamestown, her mother remarried, and looking for work out of state, she sent little Lucy to live with her husband’s parents. It wasn’t until Lucy’s grandparents bought a home in nearby Celoron that the family lived together under one roof again.
Lucy’s Childhood Home
In Celoron, NY, is the home where Lucy spent most of her childhood. Formerly 59 W. 8th Street, it is now 59 Lucy Lane.
I was eight and a half years old when we all moved into the little three bedroom house on Eighth Street in Celoron…I loved every inch of that weathered shingled house. It had a front porch and a back shed, and a small, dark front parlor separated from the front hall by portieres. These were the stage curtains for our innumerable productions as (brother) Freddy and I grew up.”lucille ball
Sadly, the happiness of being together lasted only a short while for Lucy’s family. After an accident in the backyard that caused a neighborhood friend to be paralyzed, Lucy’s grandfather was put under house arrest and the house was auctioned as the result of a lawsuit. Lucy, fifteen years old, convinced her mother to let her go to New York City and enroll in drama school.
Presently the home is privately owned, but there are rumors that the owners plan on making it available for tours one day. Whether or not this is true, I’m not sure, but one can only hope! There is a whole website dedicated to the house, its history, and even an online shop. You can check it out by clicking here.
Lucille Ball Memorial Park
Many of the inspirations for our stage plays came from the fine productions we saw on summer evenings at Celoron Amusement Park, which was just a hop, skip and a jump from our house across a daisy field and a railroad track.”lucille ball
To Lucy, it was known as Celoron Amusement Park. Today, it is Lucille Ball Memorial Park – the home of two statues of the famous resident with quite an interesting story of their own. “Scary Lucy,” unveiled in 2009, earned her name because she looks nothing like Lucille Ball. What was the artist thinking?! (I couldn’t even bear to take a full picture of her!) Both fans and locals revolted, and another statue was erected in 2016, “New Lucy.” This elegant and beautiful statue is worthy of her namesake as she stands proudly, welcoming visitors to the park.
Celoron Amusement Park was very important in Lucy’s life. In her book, she describes the place as a type of Disneyland, a fanciful escape from everyday life. Not only did she have one of her first jobs there as a teen selling hamburgers, she also witnessed plays as well as vaudeville shows. It was here that she gained a love of theater, spectacle, and show business.
Lake View Cemetery
The most humbling part of my trip was visiting Lucy’s final resting place at Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown. A line of red hearts lead the way through the cemetery to the Hunt family plot where she is buried along with her parents, brother, and grandparents.
At this moment of my visit I realized that I was the closest that I would ever be to Lucy. A sobering moment, indeed.
In this post I couldn’t even begin to cover Lucy’s life story and all that she accomplished, but it goes without saying that this woman has taught me so much about life. She has touched the world by her presence. She has been through so many hardships, but always managed to pull through with her wit, intelligence, and strength.
You know the saying Live, Laugh, and Love? That saying has been attributed to a poem called “Success” and I think it can certainly be applied to Lucy’s life.
I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done. – L.B.
I’m happy that I have brought laughter because I have been shown by many the value of it in so many lives, in so many ways. – L.B.
Love yourself first and everything falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. – L.B.
Thank you, Lucy, for the lessons, the laughs, and for being you.