Whimsical Wednesday: Me and Lucille Ball

Whimsical Wednesday: Me and Lucille Ball

I have always loved the show “I Love Lucy” and Lucille Ball will always be a favorite comedian of mine.  her facial expressions, timing and well, general goofiness appeal to me.  What I did not know when I was watching her as a child, was that I would in reality live out one of her most famous episodes.


When you think of “I Love Lucy” this has always been the first episode to pop in my mind.  The Chocolate Factory.  Just writing it makes me laugh.  I immediately see images of her stuffing her face with the chocolate while more candy is going by.  I see her eyes get bigger as she runs out of space to put more chocolate. I giggle when I think of the stern boss who could not understand the incompetence of her two new workers. That’s funny stuff, until it happens to you.


My dad was a food scientist and inventor.  When I was a junior in high school we moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania or Chocolate Town USA.  My dad was director of research and product development.  He got paid to make candy better, come up with new kinds of chocolate products and develop better ways of making what they already made.  Pretty tasty operation if I do say so myself.


Now it is January term for me, my freshman year of college.  This was before clowning, and when I thought I would still try the whole ‘normal’ life stages.  My sisters had got jobs in the actual research department but since I had no scientific interest, and I was home for January my dad pulled some strings and actually got me a job in the chocolate factory.


They hired some of us ‘college kids’ during January to help with the mass production of Easter candy.  I was pretty excited, I love chocolate, I love the smell, the taste, the feel of it on my tongue as it dissolves to that liquid gold.  My dad working in Hershey, and for Hershey, was pretty great.  Now I was going to work in the factory.  It did feel a bit willy wonka-esk as I went into my first shift.  It was the swing shift.  You went to work at three and got off at eleven.


I had met another college girl at the orientation and we had bonded so I was glad to see we would be partnered up for the first night.  I got my uniform of an apron, a hair net and  gloves.  We were assigned to the Mr. Goodbar assembly.  The chocolate is poured into molds, the molds move along a conveyor belt, another machine suction the chocolate out of the mold and sends it to the wrapper.  The wrapper obviously wraps the candy and then sends the wrapped candy bar out on another conveyor belt. No human hands touch anything but the wrapped candy.


Jane and I are assigned the job of picking up the wrapped candy bars, placing them in a box, putting the lid on the box and setting them on another conveyor belt.  This should be a piece of cake.  Two of us doing what takes one seasoned worker to do.  They show us, ask if we get it, and then leave us to do it.  Here is where I began to actually live out the “I Love Lucy” skit.  The conveyor belts do not stop, the candy just keeps coming and try as we might we could not work fast enough to keep up with the process.  There were candy bars everywhere.  We stopped the machine, started again, switched who was doing what, it did not make one difference.  We were a Mr. Goodbar disaster.  All down the line these men and women who had worked here for years were laughing and shaking their heads.  I am sure they were thinking “ Those are college kids? How can they get through college when they can not even get a chocolate bar in a box.”

We were quickly pulled off the machine and assigned new positions that did not involve conveyor belts.   I was forever bonded to the “I love Lucy” episode and laughed even harder because I knew it could happen. It did happen, to me!


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