Lucille Ball's Birthday Celebration

August 5-7, 2005

Jamestown, New York

Located in the southwestern part of New York State. It has been recently named #21 in the nation and #1 in the state in the book, The 100 Best Small Arts Towns in America by John Villani. It was built on the Chadakoin River to provide hydropower. In its early years it was a mill town.

Drive Time - 7 hours 45 minutes

446 miles


On some of the buildings, there are big pictures of some of the famous episodes.
I am sitting in front of the Lucy-Desi Museum. It is located on 212 Pine Street. It was opened on May 25, 1996. It has many exhibits and displays of Lucy and Desi's lives.
I am in front of the store waiting for it to open.
This is the house Lucy was born in. It is located on 69 Stewart Avenue. It was the house of Lucy's maternal grandparents, Fred and Florabelle Hunt. When Lucy's mom, Dede Hunt, married her dad, Henry Durrell Ball, they went to Montana where Henry was a lineman. After a year, Dede came here to give birth to Lucy. Lucy was delivered by her grandma, who was a midwife, in bedroom on the second floor. Then they went back to Montana for four years. In this time, Lucy's dad got typhoed fever and died. Dede was pregnant with Lucy's brother, Fred so they came back to bury him in the Lakeview Cemetary. Five months later, Lucy's brother, Fred, was born. After a few years, Dede met and married Ed Peterson. He worked out of town so Fred stayed with his grandparents, the Hunts, while Lucy stayed with Ed's parents.*
Lucy lived here when she was 8 1/2 years old after living with her step grandparents. She lived with Grandpa Fred, Grandma Florabelle, DeDe (mom) and her husband Ed, DeDe's sister Lola and her daughter Cleo (Lucy thought of her as a sister), and her brother Fred. Grandma died in 1922. The house was lost in a lawsuit in 1927 when Grandpa Hunt had purchased a .22 rifle for Fred's 12th birthday and was showing Fred and some of his friends how to use the gun with target practicing. Just as one of the neighborkids pulled the trigger, one of the other kids heard his mom calling and raced in front of the target. The boy was paralyzed from the neck down and died 5 years later. Grandpa Hunt was charged with recless endangerment and jailed. The house had to be auctioned off to pay for the legal fees.*

Thanks to the generosity of a Buffalo area couple, this house has been bought and will be refurbished to become a local landmark. Bill and Mary Rapaport purchased the home and will restore it to look like it did when Lucy and her family lived there.

This is me and Frank Gorey, Lucy's chaufeur for 30 years, in front of a statue that was carved out of a tree using a buzz saw. Gorey's long association with Lucille Ball actually began when he drove her husband, Desi Arnaz. Later, he took their children to school and picked up Lucy's mother Dede to go shopping and to the Motion Picture Mothers Club. Eventually, he was largely responsible for Lucille Ball's Hollywood home.

Gorey began working for the Queen of Comedy in October of 1959, near the end of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. He was there for the filming of the last episode, "Lucy Meets the Moustache," with Edie Adams and Ernie Kovacs.

This is in Celeron Park otherwise known as the Lucille Ball Memorial Park. It used to be a huge amusement park that had a roller coaster, a big zoo and a bandstand where John Philip Sousa conducted. The convention hall seated 8,500 and the theater seated 1,800. The Phoenix Wheel was installed in 1917 and was the world's largest ferris wheel at the time - 4 stories tall. It carried 200 people. There were vaudeville shows and the Pier Ballroom where Rudy Vallee, Duke Ellington, and Guy Lombardo played their music. Lucy loved the excitement of the park and the performers who could move an audience to laughter, tears and applause. This was the rise to the creative genius of Lucille Ball. In June of 1930, a terrible fire claimed the Pier Ballroom. This site whre the Celoron Park once stood on the shore of this lake has now been dedicated to Lucille Ball.*

The park is in front of Lake Chautauqua, which is 22 miles long.
Many of Lucy's ancestors as well as her maternal grandparents (Fred and Florabelle Hunt) as well as her father, Henry Durrell Ball. Originally Lucy and her mom, DeDe were buried at the Forest Lawn Cemetary in the Hollywood Hills but Lucy's wish was for her family to be buried altogether in Jamestown. Not to long ago, her daughter Lucie, had her and her grandma DeDe's remains interred in the Hunt family plot at the Lakeview Cemetary with the rest of the family. Lucy's favorite flowers were lilacs. The path to the grave is lined with lilacs and there is a lilac bush right next to the grave.*
This is where her grandparents are buried.
Melody Thomas Scott (from the Young and the Restless) appeared at some of the events. She is on the Board and a very big Lucy fan.
Melody Thomas Scott is interviewing Bart Braverman who was in the episode 149-Lucy Gets Homesick

Fred is conscience-stricken about the expense involved when he misrouted Ricky's band. He books second-class train passage for their overnight trip to Florence and a fourth-class hotel for their stay. Lucy wants to call home to see if Little Ricky has received the birthday presents she sent him from London, but the difficulties of calling from a fourth-class room almost prove too much for her. In the end, Lucy invites an Italian shoeshine boy and his friends to celebrate Little Ricky's birthday.

First aired April 9, 1956.

Here Bart Braverman is with Lucy impersonator, Diane Vincent.
Kathy and I are having a try at the "Candy Wrapping Contest" Kathy cut the aluminum foil while I wrapped and put them in a basket.
We were able to wrap 25 candies. We weren't the winners but it was fun trying. The winners wrapped 35 candies.
Even a "little Lucy" has a try at the contest.
This is me seated with "Little Ricky" Keith Thibodeaux
NY - Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center Executive Director Ric Wyman and me
Lucy impersonator, Diane Vincent, from Universal Studios in Hollywood, California couldn't look or act more like Lucy herself. She is fantastic.

*Lucytown Tour Guide