If you’ve ever driven through the southwestern United States you undoubtedly have encountered the quirky and bizarre, from reptile villages to snake pits to dinosaur replicas, there is something about the desert that attracts the peculiar. That’s why I wasn’t that surprised to find on our drive to the mountains last weekend that Pearsonville, California 93527 was the “Hubcap capital of the world.”
I had to laugh out loud for quite some time in the car before I could tell Christopher and Chandler about it because we past it so fast that I was the only one to see the water tank boasting Pearsonville’s claim to hubcap fame along with a 30-foot statue of a lady welcoming people to nothing more than a junk yard and a couple run down trailers and what looked like it was once a playground for children.
I was so taken with the place that upon our return from the mountain, I insisted we stop and take some pictures. Up close it wasn’t much different. It wasn’t until we got home and I searched the Internet that I found there was a very colorful person at the center of this strange place: Lucy Pearson, the Hubcap Queen.
Over 50 years ago, Lucy ran away from Kentucky because she didn’t want to get married. “I eloped by myself.” In California she met and married her husband Andy and they bought some land in the desert and opened a wrecking yard. That got Lucy going collecting hubcaps. Over the years she has collected what she claims to be over 140,000 hubcaps. She’s even become a sort of celebrity boasting visits from Whoopi Goldberg and Jim Belushi, interviews in the Los Angeles Times and one for CBS News only two years ago.
Pat Beckett of a North Hollywood-based company that supplies cars to the film industry sought her out to scrounge up hubcaps for a 1974 AMC Gremlin. “I didn’t think there were any of those left in the world,” Beckett said. “She had enough to do three cars.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pearsonville is a census-designated place (CDP) with a population of 27 in 2000, down to 17 in 2010. Although we were hard pressed to see any signs of life when we stopped by.
I could go on with more fascinating information I have dug up about Lucy (she has a website www.hubcapqueen.com), but the point of this is to share with you a lesson I learned. My interest in this began from a very cynical place. In my sinful nature, I would make a big joke about this just for a laugh. And I did laugh. I must say, Lucy has had the last laugh. I don’t have a town named after me. I don’t own a water tank. I don’t have a successful enterprise and a colorful life sought out by famous people and news media.
My cynical self haughtily put all this down. My divine nature would give anything just to meet Lucy.