Words & Banter

I Love Lucy. I Love Lucille Ball. Make That "We".

Photo by Walter Bibikow on Alamy


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After reading Black’s recent Memory Lane piece (see below) about “I Love Lucy” and Lucille Ball, I had to laugh. Not because it brought back memories of hilarious episodes (which it did), but because only Black would have “entertainment” memories of strong, independent women. (Her favorite movie character was Scarlett in “Gone With The Wind,” and growing up, she was inspired by Marlo Thomas and "That Girl"). And although I know that women role models are always around us, if you take the time to look, I never would’ve thought to include Marlo Thomas and Lucille Ball on the list.

The funny thing (pun intended) is that we both love Lucy, albeit for very different reasons. I love to laugh at the madcap escapades of the fictional Lucy Ricardo, not only because she transformed everyday life into something we could laugh at, but because she let me know that you don’t have to be perfect, to be perfect for your family and friends … who love you just as you are.

I Love Lucy. For many of us, myself included, those three words bring back memories of favorite episodes of the “I Love Lucy” show. And, although I would be hard-pressed to pick my favorites, some may reminisce that the show, which ran from 1951 – 1957, was from a simpler time and is dated. I would argue that the comic timing, the gags, and the chemistry of the characters have stood the test of time.

Maybe it is because they took frustrating situations in everyday life and then pushed them to the extreme – and made them hilarious along the way. For example, your young child wants a superhero at their birthday party. Reasonable. But for Lucy, after unsuccessfully trying to book Superman (Chris Reeves), she dons the costume in “Lucy and Superman.” A classic.


I will not get into the scientific reasoning why people love watching reruns, but they do. And, it may explain why “I Love Lucy” has been on air for 70 years. (Note: I watched them as reruns, not when originally released.) However, the concept of reruns was, to a great extent, invented by "I Love Lucy" (technically, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz) when they negotiated with CBS for the right to own their filmed episodes. (Back then, networks would air shows only once, and when they took breaks from filming, would air a different show – not reruns.) It was a brilliant business decision because it was not long before the real Lucy (Lucille Ball) became pregnant and wanted to ease her production schedule, so the network reran shows, paying the couple (via their production company, Desilu Studios) for the rebroadcast rights. And, they created a second-run syndication market along the way.

Even her pregnancy was groundbreaking, as Lucille Ball was the first woman to appear pregnant on one of the three major television networks (although the show never used the deemed-vulgar word “pregnant,” she was “expecting” or Ricky’s version, “spectin”). “I Love Lucy” was also a first in portraying mixed couples when Lucille Ball, already a star at the time, wanted her real-life husband, a Cuban bandleader, to play her on-screen spouse. Oh my, an all-American redhead married to a Latino man! But, America loved them. And, it seemed that Lucille Ball and her character were interchangeable.

But were they? Lucy Ricardo was constantly trying to break out of the role of a wife who stayed in the kitchen. And dreamed and schemed to break into show business. Often convincing her best friend, Ethel Mertz (I always thought it interesting that Fred and Ethel never had children, and accepted it although I did wonder “why”), to be her partner-in-crime. I felt they were always trying, using comedy as their messaging medium, to say there was more to being a woman than the traditional roles of wife and mother.

Clearly, Lucille Ball was much more than an actress and comedian; she was a trailblazing producer and very shrewd in business. She became one of the first women to own her own TV production company when she bought out Desi’s share of Desilu Studios several years after their divorce. And, besides producing TV classics such as "The Untouchables" and "Mission: Impossible," she was brilliant (and brave) enough to get behind the original Star Trek TV series,

I love Lucy, and the years of laughter and enjoyment. But, I admire Lucille Ball, a true badass back when the censors would never have allowed that word on air.
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How you celebrate July 4th may change from year to year (Red will still enjoy a quiet holiday, but this year will be reading as it may take all summer to get through “War and Peace”), but what should never change is remembering WHY (one of Black’s favorite words) we celebrate as well as the sacrifices made to live in a free country …



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This is going to be a very unusual July 4 th for me, with neither girl being home. Natasha always hated the fireworks, but Sawyer would insist we do all the traditional things – barbequing, lots of watermelon, and then watching the fireworks in the Texas heat and humidity. So, this year, I plan to make it a really “cool” holiday … staying in the air-conditioned house, watching a movie or one of my TV series, and celebrating my day of independence from any “mom” responsibilities with a big bucket of freshly popped popcorn!


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Well, everyone celebrates differently. But, when I think of Independence Day, I think about the challenges our Founding Fathers faced when they drafted the Declaration of Independence , especially as they did not always agree on issues. Challenges our nation continues to face (it is a holiday, so I will not get into the increasingly divisive aspects of politics). And, I cannot help but wonder how many people realize the extent of the sacrifices made by those who signed it in exchange for our country’s freedom. Which is why, as we celebrate July 4th, we need to remember,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
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What do you get when you cross Flag Day (June 14) with June being Effective Communication Month? Well, if you include Black in the mix, you get one of Red’s favorite memories … and a unique way to think about the importance of communicating – whether in your personal or professional life. And especially if you’re in a racecar!


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This past weekend, I noticed a bunch of flags on my street and wondered why since July 4 th is still almost a month away. But this morning, I learned that today's Flag Day.


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Well, for someone who likes to decorate for the holidays, I would have thought you would have known all about it.


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I've heard of it, but I never really thought much about it, let alone when it is. I knew it had to do with the American flag, but it surprised me that it has nothing to do with Betsy Ross, which legend has made the first flag, although it seems there's no evidence to support that.


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If you want an interesting "story", read about why the American flag is called Old Glory . Regardless, the American flag, like all flags, communicates a message.


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I know you like to connect odd dots, but only you would see a connection between flags and communications.
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There’s much debate about the role America should play in world politics and standing by our allies, and we can’t help but wonder … how many people look at history before forming their opinions? Which is why we feel so strongly about remembering D-Day (and are rerunning the post below), which is about so much more than just a day …


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I still can’t believe you didn’t know what D-Day was.


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All I knew was it had to do with World War II and beaches. And, required lots of strategic planning. Remember, I am not a history buff like you.


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Or a movie buff. There has been an assortment of D-Day movies, and I wouldn’t expect you to have watched the older movies, like “ The Longest Day” with John Wayne, but I figured you’d have seen “ Saving Private Ryan .”


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The Tom Hanks movie? It was a great war movie, but from what I remember, it was about the search for a particular soldier during WWII. Although I remember the opening scene showed the horrors of war. Regardless, I do not get my “history” from movies that might take literary license for the sake of storytelling, even if Steven Spielberg’s movies are mostly accurate.


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That opening scene WAS D-Day.
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