Sandy here with a little trip down a non-quilting memory lane.
In the summer of 1981 I was required by my college program to work an internship at a media company. I could have counted time spent on the yearbook committee or the articles I wrote for the campus newspaper toward this requirement, but I wanted to do something big, something daring, and something that would excuse me from making hay and milking cows for the summer. Luckily, I landed an internship at the Jamestown Post-Journal, a small daily newspaper in a town 2 hours west of the farm.
This little arrangement benefited me in a couple of ways: it would require that I get an apartment and truly live on my own for the first time ever and it would mean that I needed a car. Since it was for my degree, mom and dad couldn’t refuse, now could they? So, I got a car and an apartment too – and thus my designation as the ‘favorite’ by the other sisters was burnished. (I think that the “spoiled” label was/is completely unfair, don’t you — it was for my degree after all!!!???)
Anywho. Driving my new-to-me 1975 Buick Century (the proverbial little old lady car that had only been driven a very few miles) I pointed that giant green chassis west and headed off to Jamestown to greet the world from the launch pad of a tiny, recently renovated, furnished second story apartment in an old storefront.
There are lots of stories to tell about that crazy summer, but let us focus on one: Lucille Ball. Ms. Ball was born in Jamestown. Jamestown was a dying industrial town in 1981 as jobs there (and places like it) were rapidly migrating away from the US. I remember afternoon happy-hour fueled philosophical discussions in beery downtown watering holes where the locals dreamed of their next act – including creating a tourist destination based around their most famous daughter. I worked my internship and exercised my liver for 2.5 months, and then never set foot in Jamestown again.
Fast forward a “few” (yikes!) years.
Last weekend Jamestown opened its new pride and joy: the National Comedy Center and I was there! What better town in which to celebrate comedy than the home town of Lucille Ball? Those 1980’s dreamers of Jamestown’s future have lovingly created an amazing experience that has the hope of rejuvenating this deserving city.
The museum is high tech and stunning — you simply must visit! We spent a few hours walking through it and laughing and revisiting some favorite belly-laugh moments. Wristbands are used to help customize the experience for each visitor. The evolution of comedy in the US is on full display and there are thoughtful pieces on what comedy means to our country and our national psyche. I bet all of your favorite comedians are represented in the center. You can try your hand at cartoon creating and you can even play comedy karaoke among other hands-on activities. The experience is fascinating, educational, thoughtful and occasionally, just plain silly.
Not far from the center is a stand-alone Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz museum. You can buy this extra ticket when purchasing the National Comedy Center entry fee. At the Lucy/Desi museum I realized that I have neglected my son’s education – he had never seen an episode of I Love Lucy. Full stop. That’s just downright wrong! Youtube will be used soon to remedy this unfunny situation.
From my internship summer I remember a city of quaint dining locations, excellent homey bars, cold beer, elaborate architecture, and brick-lined streets. These elements are still there, as is my beloved old internship newspaper.
The people of Jamestown are friendly and excited for the new venture and you can see and feel the city shaking off its rust-belt straight jacket. And beautiful Chautauqua Lake and Chautauqua Institution are nearby to supplement the comedy experience. These locations and geography represent some of the magical and mystical elements of western New York.
Here is to the city of Jamestown and the dreamers who never gave up on creating a new vision for the future. May we emulate them while chasing our own dreams.