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April 5, 2009 - Ray Hall (Archive)
It was the early sixties and my first year in Jamestown when I discovered, mostly by chance, that Jamestown was the home of Crescent Tool, Art Metal and the Automatic Voting Machine. I was filled with a sense of wonder and astonishment when I first spied a giant Crescent wrench hanging from an otherwise nondescript building—the Crescent Tool Company. A giant replica of a shiny hand tool was all that was necessary to identify the home of a tool company that established international standards and became a generic name for adjustable hand wrenches.

Art Metal was a company that made indestructible metal desks that I became acquainted with in 1958 while on active duty with the Strategic Air Command in the US Air Force. The Strategic Air Command is long gone but I'd bet the desks are still around. About that same time I encountered a mechanical voting machine that did not require electricity, was virtually tamper proof and provided printed results.

Although local people did not talk much about Jamestown’s internationally known companies nearly everyone enthusiastically proclaimed that Jamestown was the hometown of Lucille Ball. Locals were proud of their home town girl. Yet despite frequent references to Jamestown in her television shows there was not a single statue or billboard that boasted of Jamestown being Lucille Ball’s home town.

I was not a Lucy fan and knew more about Crescent Tool than I did Lucille Ball or her contribution to television and the performing arts. But I remain grateful to the Arts Council and its Executive Director Philip Morris for establishing Jamestown as the location for the Lucy Museum.

However, it was Rick Wyman who piqued my curiosity sufficiently to compel more than a cursory review of the woman and her contributions to television and film. Lucille Ball was far from the entertaining klutz she played on television. She was the first woman to head a production company, pioneered the use of three cameras and was first to record her television show on film—a remarkable career that spanned five decades.

To be sure, I am not well acquainted with Rick Wyman and have exchanged little more than passing pleasantries hardly a half dozen times in ten years. Although my wife was a Museum volunteer I have not talked with Mr. Wyman nor any member of the Museum Board since he was fired and unceremoniously escorted by the police from Museum premises. Now, I have learned, second—maybe third hand—that Mr. Wyman has for the second time been denied unemployment benefits.

Think what you will of Rick Wyman, but he made the Lucy trains run on time. When he was Executive Director the organization did business—a lot of business—and employed between ten and twenty full and part-time workers. Rick Wyman brought the Lucy Museum from cramped quarters to the center of downtown Jamestown with two gift shops, the Lucy Playhouse and a world class museum. I do not know why Mr. Wyman was fired, or if it was the result of a nasty Internet campaign waged against him. Regardless, I believe I have learned enough about Lucille Ball to understand she would never have been associated with the sort of indecency experienced by Mr. Wyman. Rick Wyman deserves better—the memory of Lucille Ball deserves better.


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