During my childhood, while other children watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, I watched I Love Lucy reruns. My grandfather would record every episode for my brothers and me, cutting the commercials out. There is something about TV from the days of I Love Lucy that doesn't exist anymore. It was an era of lighthearted, family-friendly, feel-good comedy. Lucy became a constant presence in my house as we watched the episodes over and over together. My younger brother, Jonathan, who has Down syndrome, carries on this tradition and can recite entire episodes flawlessly.
While I had known that a Lucy museum existed in Lucille Ball's hometown of Jamestown, N.Y., it always seemed too far out of a central Jersey girl's reach. But when I was planning a visit to Pathfinder Village, a community in Edmeston, N.Y., for individuals with Down syndrome, I searched for nearby places my husband and I could visit and Jamestown came into view on Google maps. I knew instantly where we should go.
The Lucy Desi Center for Comedy is not extremely large, but it is a lovely spot committed to keeping the legacy of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz alive. Consisting of the Lucy Desi Museum and the Desilu Studios, it was more than a museum for me. It was a blast from the past, a walk through my childhood, an up-close view into I Love Lucy.
The woman on staff recognized my awe and began telling me about Lucy Fest in August, about Lucy's birthplace and childhood home, and that there are five murals devoted to her in Jamestown. The museum was filled with memorabilia from the lives of Ball and Arnaz including costumes, personal belongings, and photographs.
Next door to the museum is Desilu Studios. It was like stepping into I Love Lucy. Replicas of the sets of the Ricardo family's apartment kitchen and living room greet visitors as they enter. Staring at these sets made me long for the characters Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel to appear and begin living life in the comical way they always had.
Costumes such as Lucy's famous polka-dot dress and Santa suit were on display. At the end of the tour, visitors can act out the "Vitameatavegamin" commercial in front of a camera connected to a television that plays in black and white for the audience of bystanders.
Although I was not a child when I Love Lucy originally aired, this visit to Jamestown brought back my childhood memories of the redhead and the laughter she brought and still brings into many homes today.
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