‘Building A Bar-B-Q’
CELORON – Lucille Ball’s childhood home recently received an addition.
59 Lucy Lane in Celoron now has a barbecue grill thanks to Mary Rapaport, owner, and Jason Sivak, of Sivak Stonemasonry. But, the barbecue isn’t like any other, it is a recreation of the barbecue from “I Love Lucy” season six, episode 23, “Building A Bar-B-Q.”
Those who remember the episode may recall the events that led up to the botched reconstruction of a barbecue grill that Ricky Ricardo and Fred Mertz had built in the couple’s backyard. But, for those who have never seen the episode, a short explanation is that Lucy lost her wedding ring and thought that it might be inside the cement mortar of the newly constructed brick barbecue, which she proceeds to disassemble with Ethel. Upon discovering that the ring was in fact not lost within the barbecue, the duo attempt to reconstruct it, and the end result is disastrous.
The reconstructed barbecue is the one that can now be seen in the backyard of 59 Lucy Lane. The original episode can be viewed on Hulu at www.hulu.com/watch/438071. The reconstructed barbecue appears at 19 minutes 45 seconds in the episode.
“Fans are absolutely going to die when they see this barbecue,” said Rapaport. “It even has a secret golden ring hidden within the mortar.”
In addition to the barbecue, a flagstone patio which resembles the one depicted in the “I Love Lucy” episode was also completed. Plus, lilac bushes, which Ball was a lover of, line the perimeter of the property.
According to Rapaport, the lilacs were cultivated from the original bushes that existed when Ball lived at the home. She believes they will be in full bloom this summer.
Rapaport will celebrate the construction of the barbecue grill during the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, which is scheduled for Aug. 1-4. The celebration will include a fundraising barbecue with hot dogs and beans cooked on the grill that will serve to benefit Hospice Chautauqua County’s Pet Peace of Mind program. The program is designed to help provide services that keep patients and their pets together through the end of life journey.
“Our very first fundraiser on the grill will be for Hospice, and it will be called ‘For the Love of Dogs,'” said Rapaport. “During the Lucy festival every year we have the biggest garage sale you’ve ever seen. We try to make it a big Lucy picnic, the way that she used to do picnics. It’s a way for Lucy Lane to bring more community members to support local things. This really is all about Lucy, and I don’t think there will be a fan that comes here who won’t want a wiener off of this grill.”
In addition to the fundraiser for Hospice, Rapaport also has a garden on the property from which fruits and vegetables are grown and donated to St. Susan Center.
“We decided what better way to help St. Susan Center than to put in a Fritzie Boy garden,” said Rapaport. “It’s called Fritzie Boy because Fred Ball’s wife called him that. This will be our second year making the donations.”
Rapaport’s desire to support local businesses and organizations extends deep into the barbecue project. She contracted Sivak Stonemasonry, of Lakewood, in order to keep the project as local as possible.
“I do like to use hometown and homegrown products – I’m all about local business,” said Rapaport.
According to Sivak, upon first hearing of the project, he felt it was something that he and his crew weren’t interested in doing.
“But, then Mary dropped the DVD of the episode off at my house on the same day that the whole crew was picking up their paychecks,” said Sivak. “So, I made the whole crew sit down on the couch to watch the episode because we needed to know the story if we were going to build the barbecue. Everybody ended up having fun in the process.”
To build the barbecue, Sivak and his crew utilized repurposed old Jamestown bricks. According to Sivak, the project was unusual because he is used to striving for perfection, whereas the project called for perfection in imperfection. Although the barbecue is not an exact replica, Sivak attempted to get as close as possible to the original concept. But, he also had to take into consideration that the barbecue had to be functional.
“It was more exciting than a regular barbecue because it was way harder to build,” said Sivak. “The hardest challenge was using the Jamestown brick, because in the episode the grill sits at an angle, so we put brackets in so that it would sit at an angle and extra brackets so that you could straighten it out.”
For more information visit www.59lucylane.com.