Murray's Ranch:
Apple Valley's African-American Dude Ranch
Page 12


The Bellsons named the ranch the Lazy B, and people would ask why. Pearl's explanation is rather amusing:

Aha! Get this reasoning: I told Louie people would pass by and look at this huge ranch and say to themselves, "There are actors in there, leading a glamorous life. I wonder what those 'Lazy B's' (dirty word) are doing there."

She added that "B" also stood for beaver, and that she worked like one all day long. She said her mama taught her how to clean house years ago, and she never forgot it. She did all of her own work. Plus, by keeping the place in shape herself, she got relief from the tensions of theatrical work.

Photo of Pearl Bailey

Pearl said the main building and all the cottages were in terrible condition when she moved in, so she began a major upgrade. She chased snakes, pulled weeds, and generally cleaned the place up, hauling off loads of trash. She planted what she called Arizona "cypress" trees (identified as Arizona "tamarisks" by others), and put in flowers around the entire 35 acres. However, it was only after they were in that she find out the flowers were poisonous, and she pulled them all up, and this was in 110 degree heat.

Being a resident, she was seen all over town at the grocery store, the post office, the gas station -- wherever her chores took her. She joined the Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce, and even became a den mother with a local Cub Scout troop.

The owner and editor of the Victor Press, John Barry, was covering the goings on at the Lazy B, and he was unable to remain cool about it all, even though he was a seasoned veteran when it came to dealing with celebrities; after all, the Hollywood set had been coming to the desert for 40 years to film or relax. He knew many of them, and he was invited to all the parties, but for some reason he was bedazzled by Pearl Bailey. When the Bellsons were in town, Barry just about tripped over himself to get out to interview them.

When Nolie died, Barry ran a nice five-paragraph article describing Nolie's funeral services, and in the same issue, he wrote a separate three-column story that would have been an obituary if it had not had to share column space with the comings and goings of Pearl Bailey.

Scene from Porgy and Bess

The article included the sad information about Nolie's death, mentioned his widow and her family, and gave some Murray family history and a little back ground on the ranch, but -- Barry just could not help himself -- he headed the article, "Bought Ranch for $100, Sold to Pearl Bailey for $65,000 Two Years Ago," and interspersed Pearl Bailey news here and there in between the Murray story.

He even mentions that Pearl " about to play one of her greatest roles in the forthcoming production for the screen in full color and sound: Porgy and Bess." Well, who can blame him; the great Pearl Bailey had been bedazzling people around the world for years.

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