Trial Balloon


Posted at 4:50 AM on August 6, 2009 by Dale Connelly (29 Comments)

Today's birthday person isn't a musician, but Lucille Ball made the music of laughter happen in countless homes through her TV shows. She was an incredibly talented comedian and no slouch on the business side of things, either.

Some teacher at an acting school is said to have told her early in her career that she had "no future at all as a performer". It's hard to imagine any teacher saying that to their student, but it WAS an acting school. Believe it or not, in the mad scramble for fame some contenders have been known to disparage others. On occasion. The story may not even be true, but the ending is right because Lucy got the last laugh.
I think I've seen this clip a hundred times but it will always be funny, because it is timeless. I heard a report on Morning Edition today about businesses cutting employees and not replacing them even though there are signs of an economic recovery, forcing those who remain to "pick up the slack".
Speed up the conveyor belt!

Anybody here ever work in a factory?

Comments (29)

Thanks Dale for a great way to start the day. I had forgotten about Lucy and Ethel's attempts to eating the chocolate flying by-still funny- because thats what we would do, right? So nice to start the day with a chuckle (all right, a belly laugh) and a smile.
I worked as a waitress at a charity event in college, taking orders and serving drinks at a fast pae. I knew nothing about mixed drinks, and my attempts to remember what was what and who each was for probably looked like Ethel and Lucy.-especially when I discovered that the tips depended on whether I remembered which person ordered which drink.

Posted by Jenny | August 6, 2009 6:19 AM

funny you should put this video up, Dale; i've been thinking and talking about this very clip quite a lot lately. the Girls are giving us over two gallons of milk/day now and i feel like it's flying off the conveyor belt and i'm freezing, cooking, cheesing, and stuffing it in my mouth to keep up! i'm fortunate not to have ever worked in a factory - and it's a good thing i never had to do "piece work" because i am too slow.
my brother is visiting for 2.5 weeks, from Baton Rouge, and he is sleeping with two quilts on right now! i won't get to listen much over the next while, but the song "Hold That Tiger" comes to mind when i see this Lucy segment....
good morning!

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | August 6, 2009 6:20 AM

I Love Lucy has to be one the best ever TV shows. I do know a little about working in a factory on the line. I spent 2 1/2 years doing various jobs at a local factory which I will not name.

They ran the lines as fast as possible, and increased the speed if they thought you could go faster. Some of the machines would break down stopping the lines.

I heard that technicans from one company that made one of the machines said their machine was breaking down because it wasn't designed to go that fast. That didn't suprise any one working on the lines who all knew they were being asked to work too fast.

Posted by Jim | August 6, 2009 6:46 AM

I actually *did* work in a candy factory as a teenager...and got fired. I still can't figure out why, but I remember my boss delivering the news as several gallons of melted marshmellowy goo was pouring onto my feet. (true story)

Posted by Mike Pengra | August 6, 2009 7:00 AM

One summer in college (late 70s) I decided for light assembly temp as it paid more than office. I counted and packed lunch bags with names - that was the lightest of the assignments in a bright warehouse with other college-age people. I saw the large cutting & stamping machines for the writing paper and heard the bell/buzzer for the 3 breaks a day. Couldn't fathom what sitting at a machine like that all day would be like. On from there to assembly line for cheap electronics in New Hope where attaching wire nuts led to blisters and bleeding fingers with no gloves or bandages provided so we used masking tape. I asked to change within the co. and moved to paint area - toxic and no mask. People didn't stay long and I think they relied on temp workers. My next longer assignment was assembling commercial microwaves for mandatory 10 hour days (the regular employees also had to work Saturdays), lifting microwave shells from a tall rolling unit that was taller than I and installing the glass base inside. From this I have an appreciation for the kind of work that goes into so many things people use on a daily basis and how often the people who do that work are considered little more than producing units.

Posted by Donna | August 6, 2009 7:05 AM

Greetings! In between bouts of college, I worked at a creamery in Green Bay, WI. It was considered a "Man's job" because it involved lifting 36 to 75 lbs daily for a 10-12 hr shift -- whenever all the milk was churned for the day and then there was a long, hot clean-up.

I was the first full-time woman they hired (because they had to). I was 19, lean and mean, and anxious to prove I could do man's work. I was very nervous the first day and I was watched carefully, but I pulled through and was invited to drink beer with the boys after work. Worked there a year and a half and decided college looked pretty good comparatively.

In college, I worked at Green Giant packing corn one summer in Glencoe - - 12 hours every day until it rained. My cool high school letter jacket still has corn crud on it ... I still don't know how people do it for a lifetime. I think everyone should do factory work for a while as well as waitress (did that, too), just to know what it's like to really work!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | August 6, 2009 7:20 AM

Closest I've come to factory work is processing student loan claims. It was office work - and not as labor-intensive as working at a creamery (or as sticky as marshmallow goo or corn). But when one of the lenders we worked with submitted thousands of backlogged claims (may have been tens of thousands - there were years worth of loans), it sure felt like we were fighting a quickly moving conveyor belt of colored folders and trying desperately to type faster...

Posted by Anna | August 6, 2009 7:32 AM

A song from red-headed Neko Case in honor of Lucille Ball is certainly appropriate. I'll stick with song titles - how about Vince Guaraldi's "Linus & Lucy". Or, and even though you do play a fair amount of Beatles, I'm not sure if "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is on the RH playlist...

Good morning all from southern MN, home of the Freeborn County Fair, now through Sunday.

Posted by Mike in Albert Lea | August 6, 2009 7:39 AM

Bought State Fair tickets at work yesterday - especially nice because there is a discount when they are purchased ahead of time. Not sure when we will be attending, but just having the tickets makes me happy!
Joanne in Big Lake - I often think about those who work outdoors year 'round. I am sure there are great benefits when the weather is pleasant, but so often it isn't. I think I would wimp out pretty quickly.
I sometimes compare my work ( xray tech) to those who are servers in restaurants: on our feet most of our shift; meeting the whole gamut of human personalities - some doing well, some not doing so well; trying to achieve a goal to help them in a short period of time. I hope I can compare favorably to the waitpersons hard work.
Dale and Mike, isn't there a song about a waitress with sore feet?

Posted by Teri in Zimmerman | August 6, 2009 7:43 AM

Fun to hear something from "Pump Boys and Dinettes." It's a fun play with catchy music - maybe you could play the title song something - I don't remember how it goes, but know the play title is part of the refrain. We saw it in Albert Lea probably about 15 years ago when Minnesota Festival Theatre staged it.

Posted by Mike in Albert Lea | August 6, 2009 7:55 AM

Lucille was so funny, you didn't notice right away how beautiful she was. I'd like to say I have the same problem, but I'm better at swearing than lying. My favorite Lucy clip is her vegameatavitamin routine.

My grown kids think I'm funny sometimes - it's hard to predict what will appeal to their "sophisticated" humor. For example, when we were sitting around playing cards at the cabin a few weeks ago and I looked at my awful hand and exclaimed, "Boogers!", they laughed hysterically. That surprised me - I wasn't even trying. But the day before when we were getting ready to draw straws to determine shower order because of the puny shower heater and I suggested that we could just shower together instead, the only one who halfway cracked a smile was my son-in-law. Go figure!

A song I haven't heard for a while is that Boys Don't Cry one - not by the Cure - you know the one, right?

Posted by Donna | August 6, 2009 8:02 AM

I feel I should clarify my final comment in last post. If you're like me, you've worked hard at whatever job you have done ... I worked very hard as a secretary (very stressful), doing temp office work like collating, working retail on my feet all day, even being a DJ or producer or goat milker/farmer is hard work!

But there's something about the noise, monotony and robotic feel of factory work for hours on end that is just draining and inhuman. And being a waitress -- well, I just totally sucked. But the owner liked me and made me hostess, which I did well (customers often mistook me for his wife, Janet, also tall and brunette).

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | August 6, 2009 8:04 AM

oh, Joanne - you worked at Green Giant?? lots of my friends did in Glencoe and also at Big Stone in Arlington. do you eat creamed corn?? :-)
one of my jobs in college was at the European Flower Market in the IDS, selling and caring for plants and flowers.. lots of heavy lifting, carrying gallons and gallons of water from somewhere deep in the caverns of the building. lowlight of the job was closing around 6 or 7, counting the money with no security, alone in the back halls of the IDS..... among highlights was that Alan Page would stop by occ. to buy bouquets - a long reach up for short me.
i agree, one should think more about what goes into making that microwave or other things we take for granted.
Donna, my 89 y.o. Mom and i were playing cards one day and she was losing (a rare occ.) and she put down her cards and said "Just call me peepee - i'm all yurn (urine)" i cracked up.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | August 6, 2009 8:27 AM

This is a classic bit but, personally, I find Vitametavegamin even funnier. But, you're right, this is more appropriate for the times.

Never worked in a factory but I had to go a facility assessment of three pig farms in one day. Ugh. That night when I finally got home, I took a shower and then immediately called my parents and thanked them for a college education.

If we're looking for 'Lucy' songs, besides anything from Lucy Kaplansky, how about:
Eric Clapton - Watch Out for Lucy
David Bowie - Lucy Can't Dance
Dream Academy - Lucy September
The Hollies - Lucy
Nick Cave - Lucy
Phish - Lucy in the Subway
Pink Floyd - Lucy Leave
The Rembrandts - There Goes Lucy
Victoria Williams - Gladys and Lucy
(as always, not a complete list)

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | August 6, 2009 8:28 AM

Ah.... there's that HOG song I haven't heard in a while. I used to like that one.

Posted by Donna | August 6, 2009 8:28 AM

Thanks, TGITH, for the Lucy list.
Donna, I'm not making a conection on the "Boy's Don't Cry" line. Sorry. Can you give me another hint?

Posted by Dale Connelly | August 6, 2009 8:42 AM

TGitHat -- your lists are always fairly inclusive of everything possible that I mostly have no clue about. You always impress me. Never been able to remember song titles, artists or even get the words to songs. I remember Seals & Crofts great song "yellow dirt down in his soul ...", and for the longest time I sang it as "yellow dirt down in his TOES." Just made sense, you know?

Forgive my mindless love of just music -- words just don't always register correctly!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | August 6, 2009 8:42 AM

Donna - I'm with you. My fav Lucy episode is also the vegameatavitamin. And I'm with you Barb, I'm trying to keep up with my CSA box. Lots of food this summer for just two of us!

I did bakery work for many years and occasionally worked extra shifts for the early morning "baggers". It's like being on the assembly line, bagging dozens and dozens of rolls into their plastic bags. Mind numbingly boring and got my carpal tunnel started as well (from all the twist tying!)

Morning Heartlanders!

Posted by sherrilee | August 6, 2009 8:47 AM

Barb - your mom sounds like FUN!

When I was telling my shower story, it was the water heater that was small, not the shower heater. Wonder if there's such a thing as a shower heater. Something made in a factory perchance?

I'm blogging a lot because I need to go work at setting up my classroom today, and I'm stalling.

Mike - was the marshmallow creme hot??

Posted by Donna | August 6, 2009 8:50 AM

Barb in Blackhoof -- yes, I still eat creamed corn or corn of any variety. My love of food far outweighs my revulsion (and memory) of nasty factory work. I do so love butter, but at the creamery we also produced margarine on occasion. That was gross. High butterfat cream goes through the packing machines like ... well, butter.

But margarine slithers, slimes and oozes through the machines and they broke down often during those runs. I do not eat margarine in any form -- besides the fact it's full of transfats. I'll be quiet now ...

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | August 6, 2009 8:52 AM

Yea Dale - it's a guy with kind of a high pitched voice and it's a really pretty song and he starts out kind of slow and then the momentum builds and before you know it, it's over.

Give me a while - I'll try to send in more details. This is a great way to put off going in to work longer!

Posted by Donna | August 6, 2009 8:53 AM

It was like molten lava...but through my boots I could only feel my job melting away. (cue the Wicked Witch of the West here.)

Posted by Mike Pengra | August 6, 2009 9:00 AM

Isn't that Mike Pengra a stitch!

More hints about the song - you played it a lot last winter, and I think it's by Ben Sollee, and it's probably not called Boys Don't Cry.

Posted by Donna | August 6, 2009 9:34 AM

I've been so crazy busy lately I haven't been able to post here, but boy do I love Lucy! I can pour cool,refeshing water on the flames of an argument between me and my hubby by exclaiming "RIIICKKKKYYY!!!!" Of course that's not his name... He'll often "Alice! To the moon!" back at me.

Lucy's an absolute, mold busting RIOT! And beautiful to boot!

Who doesn't love a Leo? How can you help it? Quite irksome I suspect, but wouldn't know cuz I am one...

Posted by Kim in Saint Paul | August 6, 2009 9:37 AM

One summer job during college (Joanne, I love your phrase "bouts of college") I was on an assembly line in Marhalltown Iowa, a factory that made gauges. I got to drill the threads into a tiny piece of brass 8 hours a day (minus breaks), 5 days a week, 12 weeks that summer, and I went back to school newly motivated! The fun part was getting in the car with 3 friends at 3:30 and heading down to the Dairy Queen for a Buster Bar (then 20 cents!).

My favorite Lucy clip I've only seen once, would love to find it again. There are bunk beds, water rising, and she's on stilts traveling from one bunk bed to the other. Anyone know how to find this?

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | August 6, 2009 10:10 AM

Does detasseling row after row of seed corn for DeKalb count? It takes place out of doors, but it is repetitive and mindnumbing. I lasted about 2 months one summer during high school in the heat, rain and stinging insects before I threw in the towel. It was a better job, though than the guys who had to hand-pollinate acres of soybean plants.

Posted by Renee | August 6, 2009 10:18 AM

Boy, I would think it counts, Renee. I remember my friends detasseling, and the only thing I envied was their tans.

Dale, I see you played a couple of Charlie the Cat songs (who knew there was a song Charlie and the Night Cats!) in 8:00 hour -- unfortunately I wasn't able to listen this morning till 10:00... Is there a way I can listen to that 8:00 hour? Not podcast, right? In archives?

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | August 6, 2009 12:15 PM

Barbara, Yes, all of the Dale Connelly Show hours are archived on our website. At the top of this page, click on "The Dale Connelly Show" and it'll take you right to today's show. Enjoy!

Posted by Mike Pengra | August 6, 2009 12:23 PM

also worked some temp factory jobs in the 70's but only lasted a few days; it was so so so boring, and of course this was before walkmans
agree that we who don't have to do these jobs all our lives should work one, at least for awhile, to appreciate the alternatives

Posted by shelley | August 6, 2009 2:06 PM

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