As Lucy tells the story, the events took place in 1942, when she was filming Du Barry Was a Lady with Red Skelton at MGM, during the early days of American involvement in World War II, when residents along the Pacific coast of California lived in dread fear of an imminent attack by the Japanese (especially after a Japanese submarine appeared off the coast of Santa Barbara on February 23).
Lucy had recently had several temporary lead fillings installed in her teeth, and when she drove home from MGM to the ranch she and Desi owned in the San Fernando Valley late one evening, this is what she reported:
"One night I came into the Valley over Coldwater Canyon, and I heard music. I reached down to turn the radio off, and it wasn't on. The music kept getting louder and louder, and then I realized it was coming from my mouth. I even recognized the tune. My mouth was humming and thumping with the drumbeat, and I thought I was losing my mind. I thought, What the hell is this? Then it started to subside. I got home and went to bed, not sure if I should tell anybody what had happened because they would think I was crazy."
When she supposedly recounted the story to actor Buster Keaton at the studio the next day, he laughingly told her that she was picking up radio broadcasts through her fillings, and that the same thing had happened to a friend of his. Nothing more happened for about a week, until the evening Lucy took a different route home from MGM:
"All of a sudden, my mouth started jumping. It wasn't music this time, it was Morse code. It started softly, and then de-de-de-de-de-de. As soon as it started fading, I stopped the car and then started backing up until it was coming in full strength. DE-DE-DE-DE-DE-DE DE-DE-DE-DE! I tell you, I got the hell out of there real quick. The next day I told the MGM Security Office about it, and they called the FBI or something, and sure enough, they found an underground Japanese radio station. It was somebody's gardener, but sure enough, they were spies."