Day Seven of our road trip was divided between two different towns in upstate New York, each boasting a hometown hero who left home to become a classic TV trailblazer. We spent the morning in Binghamton, where Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling spent his formative years learning how to write, narrate, and remain invisible to everyone around him.
We spent the late afternoon some 220 miles westward in Jamestown, birthplace of a certain funny redhead that brightened your grandparents’ lives. She used to be in all the papers.
Legendary comedian Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown in 1911. As of 2002 it’s also her final resting place, in the southeast quadrant of Lake View Cemetery. Her cremated remains were first kept in California after she passed away in 1989, till her family had them relocated for the sake of posthumous unity.
We’re used to visiting Presidential gravesites, but entertainers’ gravesites are uncommon in our vacation spots. I blame California for hoarding most of them.
Stopping in a somber place might seem antithetical to comedy, but they’re prepared and accommodating to the general public. A trail of painted I Love Lucy hearts leads up to the correct spot and saved us some meandering.
Someone even went to the trouble of carving a subtle flourish into the stone pathway at the site itself.
We arrived in town two weeks before the annual Lucy Comedy Fest. The advertising campaign was in full swing, adding even more Lucy to the surroundings.
The centerpiece of Lucy tourism is kept downtown in a dual storefront. One half recalls the production company Lucy created with her first husband, actor/musician/bandleader Desi Arnaz. Hardcore TV fans will recognize Desilu as the money behind numerous classic shows such as The Dick Van Dyke Show, Hogan’s Heroes, The Andy Griffith Show, and the original Star Trek. To a certain tangential extent we owe Lucy thanks for Captain Kirk’s existence, to say nothing of TV Land in its entirety.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]