Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 3: I love Lucy : Jamestown, New York

After breakfast, we took a walk in downtown Jamestown, New York.  Two blocks down from our hotel was the Desilu Theatre, and next to that was the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnez Museum. 

Lucille Ball was a native of Jamestown, New York! Her first box of hair dye was actually purchased on the site of the museum, back when it was a drug store. (The site of my first box is still the same drug store it was way back when, in case the biographers ask you later.............)  The YMCA that she held a lifetime membership to is up Main Street, about a block. Her face, which has been determined is THE face that more people in the entire world recognize, is all over town. A portrait of her, which is beautiful, hangs over the main desk in the Clarion Hotel where we stayed. (It used to hang in her home in Hollywood, according to the desk clerk.) Townfolk wear tee shirts that say, "I Love Lucy."  And they do.

The museum was a fun hour of our lives.  We got the AAA discount and the old age one, too, and for one full hour we browsed through the lives of Lucy and Desi, seeing great relics and costumes.  We saw boxed board games that Lucy had "endorsed" with her photo on the boxtop, a film of Lucy's appearance on the Donny and Marie Osmond show, Desi's Mercedes, photographs of their private life, and Lucy's Emmy.  It made us feel very old, but at the same time, we realized that we were witnesses to a marvelous time in the birth of television.

We both laughed aloud hysterically at a short cut of the movie "The Long Long Trailer," made sometime near 1954, in which Lucy and Desi take a vacation in an extremely long travel trailer. Desi drives, and Lucy rides along in the back, dressed as a 50's housewife, preparing a marvelous meal for dinner.  The trailer hits a few bumps along the way, and Desi is singing his Cuban songs as he drives along. Lucy, in the meantime is riding along in the back of the trailer with a full-course meal on the counter top, complete with whipped cream. (No Lucy meal is complete without whipped cream.)  Desi is oblivious to the fact that Lucy has been thrown around a bit while she cooks, and she cannot get his attention. You sort of have to imagine it, if you haven't seen it, as we hadn't. Few comediennes would even attempt this scene today. The movie is on our list of things to rent or buy before we check out: The Bucket List of DVDs.

We left Jamestown after we had paid a visit to Lakewood Cemetery to visit the grave of Lucille Ball, where she has "come home" to be at rest with her entire family.  No huge sign points out how to find her grave, we found, so if you go, you have to look carefully for one arrow that sits next to a paving stone with a heart etched into the center of it.  It points to her very simple and unassuming marker on which are the names of her beloved family members, as well.  She left us all laughing, and keeps us laughing.

We had "the conversation" in the parking lot in front of the museum. Where do we want to go?  We didn't have a coin to flip, and knew we'd drop it under the car seat if we did, so we just draped the map of the United States across the front seat and pointed to places. We both knew where we DIDN'T want to go, and those places were ones we have seen more times than enough, roads we have travelled going and coming, or a couple of places we just were not in love with.  The decision was made:  GO NORTH (even though we have some hesitations about this....)

We drove through some of the same area that we had seen yesterday going and coming to Lily Dale, but continued north to Fredonia, where we had a quick lunch at a McDonald's. We met up with a young man there who we had seen at Lily Dale, and exchanged our impressions of our day there. His were favorable, as well.

As we approached Interstate 90, "Louise," (the car) refused to enter it, and drove right on over it!  Before we could turn around, the map let us know that there is more than one way to skin a cat or get to Buffalo, and we chose the path less travelled by, Route 5.  Instead of rushing cars and an occasional rest stop, we drove along the banks of Lake Erie at a leisurely pace, stopped at one lake overview, took a coffee break, and arrived in Lackawanna, New York at about 3:45 this afternoon.

Lackawanna is the birthplace of Randy's mother, Frances Hope Gracia Gillenwater Lemasters.  We decided to stop there just to check out the little city, and to be able to tell Fran that we had been there on her behalf.  "Thelma," (our GPS unit) took us to the very center of the city, and along the way we noticed signs pointing to the Basilica of Our Lady of Victory. Having visited a "Basilica" in Santa Fe (and Saint Peter's in Rome, myself,) we knew that this was worth a look-see, so we headed towards it, only to find that it IS the center of Lackawanna.

Amazing. That is the best word to describe this marvelous tribute to the Catholic faith.  It seemed to be a small version of St. Peter's, with angels and statues all over the top and surrounding it. ....But the INSIDE was magnificent!  The ceiling is 125 feet high, all painted with glorious scenes of angels. A brochure tells us that there are 2,500 angels at this Basilica. Inside, the stations of the cross surround the main sanctuary, and the man who created them took 14 years to carve them.  A life's work.  We were in awe, to put it mildly. As a builder, Randy commented repeatedly that he had never seen such workmanship.  This was a serendipitous "find" on this trip, and a wonderful one.

We continued north to Buffalo, where we located a Comfort Inn  (another miracle) and had a fast food dinner.  We are sort of tired, but cannot figure out why.  Perhaps it is because we realize we are on our OWN time schedule for a little while, and we are starting to relax.  Tomorrow is another adventure in itself, we think, but "I will worry about that tomorrow."