Lucy Pearson, Hubcap Queen

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.

“My hubcaps is my hobby. I talk to people and show them my hubcaps.”

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13 Responses to Lucy Pearson, Hubcap Queen

  1. Pat Klever says:

    I had much the same experience. I needed a side mirror for our LeSabre but couldn’t find it anywhere in SW Michigan. While in Chicago, I stopped at a HUGE junkyard to check; the yard was probably over a mile square. I walked in to the “office”; the guy at the counter was a “junkyard dog” kind of guy, tattooed and probably an ex-con. He asked, “Whaddya need?” “A mirror for a ’92 Buick LeSabre.” “Go out, turn right, go down the [junkyard] road; when you get to the underpass, cross over the RR tracks and you will find your mirror.” I did as he told me, but I couldn’t find it. When I returned to the office, he asked me if I got the mirror. When I said no, he told me to jump in his car and he would take me there. We drove over to the place he indicated and said, “There’s your mirror.” I said, “That’s an Olds 88, not a LeSabre.” He said, “Of course, all big-bodied GM cars from 1990 to 1999 had the same mirror.” That was lesson 1. On the way back, I asked him about the semi-crushed cars stacked several stories high. “What do you do with your cars when they are all used up?” “Oh, I sell them for scrap.” “Why are those there?” “I’m waiting for the price of steel to go up a couple of more pennies.” Lesson 2. Here I was, a smug college grad, registered professional engineer. I thought I was better than he was. But, ex-con that he was (and he told me so) and relatively “uneducated”, he (a) knew his junkyard well, (b) knew all about cars, and (3) was savvy enough that a few pennies per pound was well worth the wait. The man was a genius in his chosen field, and I had been ready to dismiss him as part of the dregs of society. Shame on me!

  2. Rosalie H says:

    I love this story & the lessons learned! Very enjoyable & insightful.

    John, please contact me about the open Teaching Pastor position at Saratoga Federated Church. I want to nominate you.

    You may recall talking to me when you led the Singles Retreat at Mt. Hermon for the Menlo Park Pres group a couple years ago. I have followed & appreciated your career & music since “Love Him in the Morning…” and I have that “Dark Horse” t-shirt, plus many of your albums (yes, albums! and cds too).
    check out the Fed website: saratogafederated.org
    let’s chat!
    Rosie

  3. hi i am the hubcap queen lucy pearson i loved your story abouet pearsonville hubcap capitol of world give me a call i will send yoy a picture of me and my hubcaps post card also post card of pearsonville i live across hwy 395 i have my hubcaps i do shipping give me a call i saw your pictures on norton give me a call thanks lucy pearson i would love to hear from you

    • jwfisch says:

      How cool is this? Thank you so much for writing. I’m honored to have you visit the Catch. Sorry it took me a while to catch up to your comment but I will try and call you tomorrow.

  4. jeff says:

    I was told that she picked up an injured soldier from a bar and they got married later. A total different version from what you quoted in your story. Would you verify with her when you call? Thanks!

  5. hi again call me on my cel ph 760-377-7283 let me know what size t shirt you wear i will send you a pearsonville t shirt no cost to you along with the post cards i promised to yoy also we mydaughter and i wrote a book hiwstory of pearsonville i can ship it to you its 25.00 inc shipping call me lucy pearson pearsonville hubcap capitol of world thanks lucy have a good evening you and all your family

  6. hi you are so right i picked up my wounded solder and we were married 2 mos later married 52 years until he passed away and he is brrried in pearsonville park under a big rock is where he wanted to be bured read my book history of pearsonville against all odds lucy pearson pearsonville ca 93527

  7. Wally (Wolfman) Pearson says:

    We met Luci, Andy and Don many years ago on a motorcycle trip to the Kern River. We all had a good time and drank a lot of beer. Thanks for Good Times, Wally & Dee Dee Pearson
    Redondo Beach CA. 90278

    PS. We also bought your book and enjoyed it

  8. Lon says:

    Hi Lucy! This is Lon from Xwest printed your Tshirts and Mojave Desert Beach Club all those years. Are you still in business? We are online: Xwest.com let me know and I’ll stop by to see you my next visit down 395.

  9. Lanie Crawford says:

    I saw “ Ripley’s” last night & I saw the interesting Lucy The Hub-Cab Queen! I was so taken by her & her collection!

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