Posted by: Brad Nixon | December 11, 2009

I (Don’t) Love Lucy

Let me suggest right off that if I am unique in any category of humanity, it may be in the fact that I just never enjoyed “I Love Lucy.” This may make me subject to investigation by some arm of the FBI or perhaps even to a product defect recall, but there it is. One exception, perhaps: the time Harpo Marx was on the show and he and Lucy recreated the iconic scene from “Duck Soup” in which Harpo mimics Groucho’s actions in a doorway, trying to convince Groucho that he’s looking in a mirror. What makes that scene so endearing in the Lucy version is that at the end, they both collapse in on-screen laughter, cracking up. It had to be a total riot to do.

(HERE is a link to some YouTube clips of those scenes).

I can, at least, identify one fundamental thing about the show that bothered me. That was the fact that this highly successful, big-time bandleader, Ricky, with his standing gig at “the club” couldn’t afford a house — they lived in an apartment. All that proves, of course, is how little I understood anything about the world outside the small-town midwest where I lived. I didn’t know that living in that Manhattan apartment was completely chic and urbane and the way that tens of thousands of people live in the city. Well, we didn’t know anyone from New York City, or, so far as I know, from any city larger than Cincinnati. I knew that the Cramdens lived in an apartment on “The Honeymooners,” but Ralph was a bus driver, and it seemed more typical of bus drivers than night club performers that they would live in apartments.

I mean, no yard, no car in the driveway? Just didn’t seem to measure up to any sign of success. I couldn’t figure it out. The Nelsons had a big suburban house. Sky King and Roy Rogers lived on ranches and weren’t quite in the same league. The Lone Ranger lived… well, I have no idea. A cave? He just showed up on his horse. And the Ricardos had visits from all sorts of luminaries: big-time stars in music and entertainment. And they’re being entertained in this apartment? Well, Danny Thomas and his family lived in an apartment, too, but, of course, theirs was constructed to look like it had about 4,000 square feet of space. Oh, and Rob and Laura Petrie, though if I checked my chronology they probably came well after Lucy. I know now that that realistic portrayal of the Ricardos’ place was probably one more of the clever and semi-realistic things that made the show the icon that it was and is. Since then, I’ve actually visited real cities and gotten to know people who live in them, and lived in apartments, myself. But there in the depths of the 50s, it was another world. No one explains this stuff to kids and kids just have to figure out these cultural references on their own.

Why I should accept more readily the fiction that Roy and Dale and the gang lived on that ranch and rode around fighting crime in the middle of the 20th Century on horseback (well, come to think of it, the cars and trucks and stuff did confuse me a bit) or that the Lone Ranger ever figured out a way to put food on the table, I cannot explain. Ignorance. Youthful ignorance. There, that’s easy. It’s the continuing, chronic adult ignorance that I have a harder time explaining, I guess. Just have to roll with it.



  1. of course, it probably didn’t escape your notice that ricky & lucy lived in a much nicer apartment than ralph and “to the moon alice” did. i remember there was some woman who always said “uh-oh!” i always wondered where she was, not understanding laugh tracks.

    maverick didn’t really live anywhere either, nor sugar foot, bronco or cheyanne, but palidin, he lived in that cool hotel. andy, opie & aint bee had a nice little place, as did corky & white shadow.

    uncle al’s farm, i don’t remember, did they actually show his farm, or just the three stooges?


    • You’ve got me on Uncle Al. Al Lewis, in Cincinnati, always flew in at the beginning of his show in his plane. From the sky. Captain Wendy lived there, too. Or maybe they lived at Lunken Airport.
      I will have to post a blog in which we all recall the theme songs: “Cheyenne, Cheyenne, where will you be campin’ tonight?” “Sugar Foot. Sugar Foot. Easy-lopin’ cattle-ropin Sugar Foot.” And, of course, “Paladin, Paladin, where do you roam? I roam in France where the ladies wear no pants!” I’m stuck on Bronco, though, and Andy Griffith is just whistling.


      • his name was al lewis? that’s the only tv show besides lawrence welk, that i remember from the farm. i still love (and still don’t apply) his little jingle:
        “put your toys away – don’t delay
        then when you want them you can find them right away
        put your toys away – don’t de-laaaay
        help your mommy have a

        besides that, the 3 stooges is all i remember about his show.

        when we lived in wisconsin, i remember receiving the rude news that the little rascals were in fact at LEAST my PARENTS age! but they were KIDS
        look, look right there, they’re KIDS! that only came up because the guy who played alfalfa had died.


      • bronco, yes, there was a stanza i didn’t understand till much later:
        show me a girl who’s kissed him once, i’ll show you a girl who’s kissed him twice, and once a girl has kissed him twice, she’s dreaming of shoes and rice.


      • Bri, that is awesome. Last night I subjected Marcy to a full-on recitation of all the theme songs: Maverick, Cheyenne, Sugarfoot, and I threw in The Rebel (Johnny Yuma), just because I could (Johnny Cash sang, pitched just a tone or two below me). But I don’t remember anything about Bronco. I had to Google it to get the name Ty Hardin associated with it. Al Lewis just passed away a few months ago. I am impressed that you remember the toys song from Uncle Al. I can sing EVERY song from that show, probably, but won’t. I probably watched the show a LOT more than you did. I hope you’re keeping your toys picked up.


  2. OK, you guys, how about the FLYING cowboy, Sky King? Where did he and Penny live, other than in that twin-engine job? (And the name of the plane, please?) And if you can remember the theme and intro to THAT one, I’ll really flip!


    • All I recall is the narrator intoning, “Out of the blue of the western sky, comes … SKY KING!” I’m pretty sure they had a ranch, which had to be Sky Ranch or something. I can’t remember the little dog’s name. Can’t remember a song. I’ll refrain from googling this, to see if any other experts weigh in.


      • That was impressive. The name of the plane, tho,’ was the Song Bird.


  3. I was thinking about all this youthful TV watching at lunch. You must have watched a lot of TV when you were growing up. I know I did. I was so enchanted by this new medium that my parents had to bribe me to read. To this day, I rarely read newspapers. Sunday Sports and Travel sections. That’s about it. I get nearly all of my news from TV, if you can call that “real news.”

    Actually, considering that I wasn’t interested in reading, or in school, it’s amazing that I ever graduated from high school at all. Then, I liked TV, sports, and art. Although I liked playing team sports, I had absolutely no talent for them. I used to be greeted by the other players with “Oh, no, here he comes again. Most INvaluable player.” The team that got stuck with me might actually LOSE the game, due to the siesmic shift in the balance of power that I had caused. Mais, oui! Perish the thought! I wasted a lot of time with sports.

    In fact, I seem to have pursued many factes of life that were a total waste of time. Why is it that some people, say Bill Gates, Colin Powell, Derek Jeeter, Andy Warhol, knew exactly what they should be doing with their lives, and made (or are still making) the most of them; while others never quite discover their true calling?

    Perhaps I should have been a bohemian artist in a poor quarter of Northeastern Paris. Have I tried to do that? No. Here I am in my office, a research attorney for a small firm in S. Cal., assigned day-to-day to research some obscure bits of data from here and there. Not that I don’t like it, or am not pretty good at it. But was I made for this? I doubt it. But I digress.

    Somehow, my high school English teacher got me to “try out” for the school newspaper. How this bit of sorcery occurred, I cannot remember. In any event, I became News Editor of the school paper. This was the only paper that I read, because I had to write part of it and do the page layouts. Then the Year Book instructor got wind of this, and recruited me to write for the Year Book. I actually got a state award for newswriting in high school — another of life’s mysteries. However, this did not make me want to read professional newspapers (unlike my wife, who reads many newspapers, and is a genuine “news junkie”).

    I did eventually develop an interest in reading. I read news magazines in law school because the law books were so boring, and I strayed from the study of law quickly and easily.

    Nearing the ripe old age of 60, I now watch considerably less TV than when I was young (and I am now more selective about what I watch). But I was never weaned away from TV as my “news source” (now a nightly blend of BBC, PBS, CNN, NBC).

    So, Brad, my question, in this very roundabout way, is: how did your avid TV watching in your formative years affect your interest in reading and writing? I know that you read and write a great deal. But do you like to read newspapers? And do you still like to watch much TV?


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