One day, while I was walking thru the village, I stopped at a table someone had set up to sell photos and postcards. I rummaged thru and found a beautiful 11 x 17 sepia-toned photo of Lucy in a white shroud
. I bought it. Took it to be framed. Took it home. Hung it on the wall and there you have what I considered to be the first item I ever collected. Still not a collector though. That was only the beginning. Every time I'd see a photo or postcard or anything on or with Lucy, I'd buy it. I even named my first pet- a cat - Lucy. That was my moms suggestion. I took in this cat, and while I was on the phone with mom she suddenly said. LUCY. How about naming your cat Lucy? And there you have it. See, Lucy wasn't the first thing on my mind ALL the time!!
One day my friend Steve called me and said there was an ad in the New York Times from someone who was selling their Lucy collection items. I called the number he gave me and made an appointment to go see what this person had. Well, I ended up purchasing almost every large poster or photo this person had. Even a few newspaper articles and magazines. I kept the real collector sets up to myself to collect such as all the TV Guides with Lucy Covers, or all the I Love Lucy Comic Books. Did you know there were 25 I Love Lucy comic books put out by Dell? 5 The Lucy Show comics, and a few specialty comics like "Facts of Life" (A movie with Lucy & Bob Hope), "Forever Darling" comic (a movie Lucy & Desi did together). These were just some of the collectibles I wanted to try to get on my own rather than just buying them from someone who had their whole collection on hand up for grabs (so to speak). Then, the horrible realization that I was a collector set in.
The way I got these items I wanted to start collecting were achieved eventually thru flea market stands and second-hand stores, and the largest flea-market today on the internet- Ebay. I once found a magazine that had an ad on the back for the Lucille Ball Fan Club. Knowing the magazine was very old at the time (by now even older:) ) I wrote to the address on the ad wanting to join the club. I got back a notice saying that the original Lucy fan club was no longer in existence but another get-together was in the works. Something like that. I don't remember to clearly. But later- I was contacted by other collectors to buy, sell and trade items. Another large collector put me on his mailing list and every time they had something available to sell, they would contact me and I would buy it. This occurred with a few other collectors. They would have a catalogue of items they were selling. They'd send it to me. I would look up things I wanted, let them know, send a check and receive the items within a week or so.
Everybody says they are Lucy's #1 fan... I am now very friendly with the guy who is really and truly Lucille Balls number one fan. I mean, this is the guy who Lucy herself considered to be her #1 fan. He lives in California and we saw each other when ever there were Lucy conventions in California. We even keep in touch today.
The first time I ever went to California was to pick up original pieces of art that my roommate at the time saw when he was there. He brought home a business card, gave it to me and I called the artist. He sent me a photo of these pieces of art which consisted of all Lucy pictures surrounded by strips of film. There were two of them. A large frame and a thinner framed piece. I asked the artist to create a second thinner piece so I could hang them together with the large piece in the center and the two thinner ones on each side. And that's how they currently hang in my kitchen. While in CA the artist took me to see Lucy's Hollywood star. Got a picture of myself laying down next to her star. What a blast.
The next time I found myself in California was for the We Love Lucy fan club conventions. They went on from 1996 through 2001. Pictures of these conventions can be found on my website, www.LucilleBall.net. There you can find pictures and stories about I Love Lucy. Everything and anything you'd want to know about the lady can be found on my website. I keep in touch with Lucie Arnaz, Lucille's Daughter as she performs her cabaret shows. There is a section of my website where there is all kinds of information on Lucie as well. I am currently putting together a CD of favorite songs. It will be finished sometime in the fall. Two Desi favorites are "Cuban Pete" and "Straw Hat Song", both on the CD.
Most of my collection is hanging on the walls of my apartment. Plate collections, photo collections. Posters, shelves full of dolls and bears, rugs, car mats, car accessories, luggage, totes, games, puzzles, lunch boxes, towels & blankets, beach chairs, kitchen accessories, bath items, candy, jewelry,
clothing, books, stamps, magnets, mouse pads, Christmas ornaments. All a good idea of what kinds of
things are available. I have a dress worn by Lucy that, when I brought it home from that trip to
California for the first Lucy convention, passing thru my moms house in Baltimore on the way back to NY, my mom even tried on the dress. My family doesn't think anything of my collecting. They just figure I do what I want to do and that's that. I don't go over-board with anything. If I can afford something, I'll buy it. It's up to me. One of my favorite collectors pieces is a scrapbook
of Lucy's visit to the 1964 New York Worlds Fair. It has photos, newspaper articles, her press passes, a day's schedule for her, a souvenir booklet, even plane tickets for her and Gary.
One of the ways I decided to keep my early memories alive as well as her legacy is combining my graphic design talents along with my acting and singing. In 2002 I created a one-man cabaret show called "Loving Lucy: A tribute to Lucy, Desi & I Love Lucy". It was performed 6 times at a cabaret club in New York City. One of the performances was right on Lucy's birthday. Although I haven't done the show as a whole since those original six, I have performed bits and pieces of it as a guest artist in other performers' shows. I sing songs like the ones done on I Love Lucy shows. The ones mainly performed by Desi (Ricky). I sing a "Wildcat" medley as well as the title song Wildcat. I sing a MAME Medley as well as talk about my collection and how I got that started. And I tell about the journey Lucy took through her career to get the title of "Queen of Comedy".
Lucy fans always seem to be asked, "What is your favorite episode?" I really don't have an absolute favorite. Just a few very funny memorable shows unlike the usual favs such as "The Chocolate factory", or "The Grape Stomping" one, or "The Nose on Fire" show. One of my favorite I Love Lucy shows is number 79, a 1954 episode titled "Million Dollar Idea". This is where Lucy & Ethel decide to sell Lucy's salad dressing at forty cents a quart that was originally made by her aunt Martha. So they go on TV and do a commercial where Ethel is the home-maker (Mary Margaret McMertz) and Lucy plays an average housewife picked at random from the audience. Lucy as Isabella Clump comes up to the home-maker and is asked to taste the salad dressing. Once a fork-full goes into Lucy's mouth, you can't stop her from eating the salad. After being asked several times, "What do you think of the dressing?", her answer is, "Don't bother me. This is the best salad dressing I've ever eaten." The commercial is a success and before it's over, they had 23 orders come into the studio. When Lucy & Ethel are hard at work filling those orders, Ricky comes home and figures they are losing money on every jar. So they decide to get out of business just when Fred comes in with the next days mail. Two bundles of nothing but Salad dressing orders. So they go back on TV to "Unsell" the dressing. The result is so hilarious, that when the mail comes, again it's bundles of orders mostly saying, "Keep kidding the product, it's wonderful. Send me 3 jars.... and 2 jars... 5 jars... and so on. So many that they couldn't possibly 'make all that many jars. So Lucy buys ready-made salad dressing, pastes her own labels on them she and Ethel set off to deliver all the orders on roller skates and a shopping cart.
Another one of my favorites is the episode called "Tennessee Bound". #112 aired January 24th, 1955. Its the time where the Ricardos and the Mertzes are traveling to California and they get arrested for speeding. Lucy so insists in saying they "weren't speeding" and so sassy-mouthed that the Sherif puts them all in jail. Along comes "Cousin" Ernie Ford who is a friend of the groups from a time ago. He suggests the only way to get them out of jail is for him to marry one of the Sherifs chubby daughters, Teensy, the identical twin sister of Weensy.. The Ricardos and Mertzes finally manage to make their escape during a square dance hoedown featuring the tubby twins singing "Ricochet Romance".
Since the first Lucy convention in California, I have been very good friends with these two gals who played Teensy & Weensy. The Borden sisters (Roz & Marilyn) have been doing club acts for many years now. Roz Borden passed away about 5 years ago, but Marilyn is going strong with a club act of two other seniors she travels with. I am proud to be the web designer for www.thebordentwins.com
The We Love Lucy fan club is very much in existence today however not many get-togethers are sponsored directly by the club. In 1989, Lucy had planned a trip to Jamestown, NY, her hometown to attend a lucy festival put on in her honor. Unfortunately, she was rushed to the hospital and after several days of recovering nicely from heart surgery, suffered a ruptured aorta and died. The following year, the Chitauqua Arts Council put together it's first Festival of New Comedy, still obviously in honor of Lucy with events such as trivia contests and auctions of Lucy stuff and comedy acts of new and upcoming comedy artists. That first festival lasted a week. As the years went by, they got shorter and shorter and now, today, still going after a few problems of repeating events here and there and Lucie coming in to create a board of Directors and what have you... twice a year Jamestown holds a festival. Once on Memorial Day weekend and another is Lucy's Birthday Celebration. The fan club at this point in time is only existing through the internet with a website www.LucyFan.com.
After a few years of the same things being done at the festivals (which end up not being anything like the original festivals that Lucy was aware of) the Fan club president decided to put together Lucy conventions in California. (mentioned above)
I can't right off-hand think of a Lucy collectible that I really want. With gas prices being what they are and rent and the general cost of living being so difficult to deal with, it's hard to find the money to purchase old artifacts that may come my way. But if I win the lottery I sure would love to get a hold of more of Lucy's clothing. I currently own two outfits of hers. A three-piece lilac-colored pants suit with a fabulous picture of her wearing it that was taken years ago (as I was told) in Aaron Spellings back yard. The other is an aqua chiffon caftan with huge feather-boa covered sleeves that Lucy wore. One place she wore it was a Bob Hope Christmas special. She wears it during a scene she did with Bob. Yes, I have that video. Real cool to watch the scene with the mannequin I have with that dress on it right here in the dining room. I will on occasion come across something that I already have that is being offered at a cheap price and I'll get it just for the purpose of re-selling it. I have many collectibles that are "my doubles" being offered on the internet. The link to the "store" is on my website or you can go directly to www.glencharlow.1freecart.com
I never got to meet Lucille Ball or Desi Arnaz (he died in 1986, 3 years before Lucy). In fact, she was the last of the "gang" to go. The one and only time I got up the nerve to write a fan letter (which mom helped me with) to Lucy, It was sent to her in the hospital. The day after I mailed the letter is when she died. I eventually got back a note from the family which was basically a thanks of remembering 'mom' and a thanks for writing. A few years after Lucy passed, I commissioned an artist to create a portrait filled with different poses of Lucy in her different characters. Some of my favorites. I sent a photo-copy to Lucie Arnaz and asked what she thought of it. She like the idea but said the center larger portrait was not "pleasing to look at". This was because the artists seemed to have drawn the face a bit too harshly making the creases in her smile and around the eyes a little too prominent. The rest of it was fine. This 30 x 40 color pastel portrait hangs in my dining room today.
Lucy will always be in the hearts of fans. Wherever you go there are kids 'and' adults that say they have favorite episodes and never once tire of talking about how great her shows are. It is said that anywhere at any moment, anywhere in the world, you'll find an episode of I Love Lucy on TV. Many say I Love Lucy has healing powers. I fully believe in this. If you're ever "tired, rundown, listless..." If you're ever "in a jam", "up a tree", "down a well", "in a mess", and you need a pick-up, watch an I Love Lucy episode. Feeling blah... running a fever, laid up in bed a few days- turn on an episode of I Love Lucy and I guarantee she'll make you feel 100% better. Now, I'm no doctor, but really, take in an I Love Lucy episode and call me in the morning!