Today is Good Friday. I’m not really sure why they call it that. But it’s the Friday before Easter and while this usually brings us to a time to reflect, it’s even more a call to reflect as I just learned who has passed away.
Earl Hamner Jr. passed away at the age of 92. If you’re not sure who he was, you will now. Hamner Jr. was creator of the television show the Waltons. Not sure what that is? Ask your parents or ask your grandparents.
For me, I know what it was. For some reason watching the Walton’s became a family tradition. Around Christmas we’d watch the Waltons Homecoming special. My uncle would take it out at the local library, granted he works there, and I think we are the only people to rent the movie.
I suppose I’m jumping the gun here and talking about The Waltons. Let me explain the concept a little better. It’s based on the life of a Depression-era family in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The eldest son John Boy, who goes to college, serves in World War II and becomes a novelist, is basically the narrator for this series. It follows his parents, his grandparents, his brothers and sister and the entire town.
The Homecoming special was the precursor for the entire television series, as it was a movie special about this family during Christmas. A few years later the movie turned into a show and it spanned 213 episodes. All of a wholesome family living in a by-gone era during the Great Depression.
While I never sat down and watched many of the episodes of the Waltons, they’ve always had a special place in my heart. Obviously due to the upbringing of watching them all the time. My family would watch the re-runs and even quote some of the episodes.
And well, most people can quote the ending of most of the episodes as it went like this..
A few years ago, I had the privilege to visit the original location of the Walton’s, so where Earl Hamner Jr. grew up, I assume.
Located in Schuyler, Virginia is where Walton Mountain is. If I remember correctly there was a huge mountain you had to drive up, yeah, the irony right? And at the top there’s a school-house where there’s a lot of the movie and television memorabilia. The original house is there and there’s a few other things, like the gas station. It’s a small quaint little area and well, if you’re a fan of the show it’s worth the trip.
While you may expect the house and other locations featured in the series, you may be let down as well, these are the original locations in which the series is based on. But still worth the trip, for those who are into the story.
As for me, I enjoyed it. There are features on the original family, the cast from the series as well as features on Hamner Jr who created and wrote other things such as Charlotte’s Web, yep, that book about a pig.
While I don’t remember having a huge blast of a time, I did find a lot of the stuff quite interesting. And would have probably enjoyed it much more if my family did come along and explain a lot of the stuff. But for them I bought them some magnets that well, they still enjoy. I hope.
But it’s sad to learn about someone’s passing, even if it’s a distant person you’ve never met, but with Hamner J, you kind of feel like you know all about him through the stories of the Walton’s. So for this Easter weekend, spend a little extra minute asking your parents or grandparents about the Walton’s. Ask them about their childhood. And just enjoy the time with your family.
And remember to tell them good night too!
Good Night John Boy!
Photo courtesy of Blue Ridge Life