Seventy Years Of Lucy

The groundbreaking television show I Love Lucy premiered on this day in 1951. Seventy years ago. It was the first tv show to air in ten million homes and has aired in over seventy countries since then.

I visited Lucille Ball’s hometown this spring and have written about things to see and do there as well as how the show changed television history. Their influence during these early years of television is remarkable. Lucy’s on-screen parter was also her real life husband and business partner Desi Arnaz. Together, they built an empire that gave us the studio audience, multiple cameras, syndication and even shows like Star Trek and Andy Griffith.

You can read about the impact that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had on television history here.

My Jamestown visit was loads of fun. The National Comedy Museum is located here and there’s a wonderful local history museum in addition to the Lucy attractions. Lake Chautauqua provides great opportunities for outdoor recreation and you’re close to Lake Erie.

I highly recommend staying at the Doubletree in downtown Jamestown because that puts you within walking distance of most attractions. You get free parking and it’s a good neighborhood. The Lucytown Tour takes you past Lucy murals, statues and landmarks including her childhood home. For me, the best part was seeing the recreated TV sets and watching their old home videos at the Lucy- Desi Museum.

Before you go, be sure to spend some time watching a few episodes of the show! I watched the entire series this winter and had a great connection to the sets, props and other artifacts on display at the Lucy Desi Museum.

Road Trip!

Nothing makes my little heart go pitter pat quite like a road trip. I’m on my way home from one today and have lots of stories to share!

Stay tuned!

This picture is from my last big road trip when I visited Lucille Ball’s hometown back in the spring. They have a few murals to celebrate the life and work of America’s most famous redhead.

Search this site for Lucille Ball or for Jamestown and you’ll find a number of stories about that trip!

Marmaduke

The man who created the Marmaduke comic strip is from the same area of New York as Lucile Ball.

He isn’t celebrated on the same level as that famous redhead but there’s a really nice exhibit about him at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown and a statue outside the city.

His name is Brad Anderson. A World War II Navy veteran, Anderson spent years drawing dog characters for magazine cartoons before hitting on Marmaduke.

Anderson drew Marmaduke from 1954 until his death in 2015 at the age of 91. That enormous, messy but endearing Great Dane was an important member of the fictional Winslow family.

I think many people find Marmaduke relatable as so many who own pets treat them like family. We accept their quirks, demands and troublemaking as part of the package along with the cuddles and all their charms.

Anderson’s art studio was recreated at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown as part of an exhibit the celebrates comics and animation. Donated items include his drawing board and lots of other materials. The clutter and personal items make it seem like he just got up to refill his coffee and never returned.

The statue is located in the nearby town of Portland and shows a life size Anderson with his famous dog. The statue is surrounded by a sponsored brick path with personalized sentiments.

Many are in memory of dogs and people. Some commemorate families or local businesses. My favorite was this one. It is in memory of the purchaser’s late husband and says “Let’s see what Marm’s up to today.”

If you’re in the area for Lake Erie activities, to visit this lighthouse or to do the Lucytown tour (which I highly recommend), getting to the statue is a nice little drive through wine country and takes you past Ella the Elephant!

Blackwell Chapel AME Zion Methodist Church

Blackwell Chapel AME Zion Methodist Church is one of the most significant structures in Jamestown, New York.

As the first African American church established in Chautauqua County, it has a long and storied history that stretches over more than 130 years.

It was founded by former slave Catherine Dikes Harris who operated a station of the Underground Railroad out of her home before opening this church.

In fact, over a period of years she used her home on Seventh Street to help an untold number of slaves with food, medical care and refuge on their way to freedom in Canada. This was dangerous business and costly if she were caught as she risked a hefty $1,000 fine and jail time.

This woman’s bravery, strength and determination to do the right thing, to do the Christian thing, while helping others in need seems a fitting beginning for a church. It’s no wonder they have lasted all these years.

I was there early on a Friday morning so there was no hope of seeing inside. From the outside, it’s clearly not a fancy church but it’s a proud one and seems solid. Here’s hoping that the church and its congregation continue to serve the community for many years to come.

Susan B. Anthony and Chautauqua County Courthouse

Mayville, New York is a village of about 1,700 people. It’s a quaint small town just a hop, skip and a jump from Lake Erie. I was actually on my way to Barcelona Lighthouse when the wide streets, old buildings and overall tidy appearance of the town turned my head.

I did my usual grid search of the town before circling back to the main drag to study the Chautauqua County Courthouse.

This building is stately and interesting all by itself. Built of stone around 1908, it’s the third courthouse here. I admired its large lawn and how it’s set back from the street. I often complain about my local courthouse and how you’re greeted by a lot of concrete and a weapon of war next to the front door. It’s a cool building but not especially friendly and I’m always jealous of courthouses that are so welcoming as the one in Mayville.

But I digress.

It’s notable to me that this wee town is the county seat when nearby Jamestown is significantly larger.

It was made county seat in 1812 and I’m guessing the choice was made because of the town’s proximity to Lake Erie. It just seems odd to see the cradle of government in a small town when it’s usually located in a county’s larger community.

What makes this site especially interesting though is that Susan B. Anthony spoke here. There was a different building here at the time but on December 26, 1854, she spoke at this site to organize the first county women’s suffrage convention for the New York State Women’s Rights. Committee.

History was made here.

This was actually the legendary suffragette’s first stop on this campaign to rally support for a committee in each county.

The community had this marker placed back in 2019 in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment in 2020.

Born a Quaker, Anthony had quite the career as an activist and as an advocate for women’s rights. She died in 1906, missing the ratification of the 19th amendment by about fourteen years. Yet, she lives on in generations of women and girls who enjoy rights these rights she worked so hard to earn.

It is gratifying to know the community takes such pride in this slice of their history.

Jamestown Street Art

Jamestown has a few pockets of interesting street art and this is one of them. Just down from the Lucille Ball Little Theater, this dreary lot is much brighter thanks to someone’s artistic abilities.

I’m not fond of graffiti on landmarks or in places where it’s destructive. But in the right context it’s quite impressive what an artist can accomplish with paint.

These birds and animals are well done. Some look like they could climb right off the building.

The flamingos are especially nice.

Two things came to mind as I stood on the sidewalk examining this scene. One is that it doesn’t take a ton of money, a committee or a community effort to create public art. Second, you never know who is looking and when your effort to put beauty out into the world will make someone’s day.

And, if you follow this blog, you’ve already heard me say that you never know what’s around the next bend in the road. That’s why we keep looking!