OP-ED: A Waltons 40th Anniversary Tribute
“You can't own a mountain any more than you can own an ocean or a piece of the sky. You hold it in trust. You live on it, you take life from it, and once you're dead, you rest in it.”
Edgar Bergen, father of actress Candice Bergen, spoke these words as Grandpa in the 1971 CBS Pilot movie “The Waltons: The Homecoming: A Christmas Special.”
In 1972, however, Will Geer would become the wise, lovable and most remembered Grandpa Walton until his untimely death in 1978. The Waltons reflected on God, family values and ancestral heritage of a family living in the rural community of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during the Great Depression and World War 11.
The ambitions of the Walton children included: John-Boy who wanted to be a writer, Jim-Bob an aviator, Mary Ellen a nurse and Jason a musician who loved playing Grandma’s favorite song “Carry me back to Ole Virginia.” Olivia Walton played by Michael Learned could quote Bible scripture as well as Grandma Walton and raised her children as good Christians with compassion for others.
Has it been 40 years since…
Dirty Harry starring Clint Eastwood and The Godfather starring Marlon Brando were hot at the movies; the song “I’d love you to want me” by Lobo went to No. 2 on the Billboard chart; Richard M. Nixon was re-elected President of the United States and….
The Waltons premiered in September 1972 on the CBS Television Network?
The Waltons was an American television series created by Earl Hamner, Jr. for Lorimar Productions that touched the hearts and souls of young and old for nearly 10 years. The show was based on the novel by Earl Hamner “Spencer’s Mountain” that became a Warner Brothers movie in 1963 starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara.
One of my favorite episodes is entitled “The Scholar.” Miss Verdie Grant, played by Lynn Hamilton, learns that her daughter will graduate from college but is embarrassed that she never learned how to read and write. She asks John-Boy to teach her; on the condition he keeps it a secret. The friendship and compassion between black and white country people and a Confederate Battle flag respectfully displayed in a school classroom as seen in this episode is not politically correct but is historically accurate.
We were invited everyday Thursday night into the Waltons home where John and Olivia Walton, along with John’s parents “Zeb” and “Esther” Grandma Walton, raise their seven children. John Walton played by Ralph Waite makes a living with his lumber mill.
The Waltons neighbors included: the Baldwin sisters, two proud Southern ladies who make moonshine liquor they affectionately call “Papa’s recipe”; Ike Godsey owner of the local general store and wife Cora Beth, Verdie and Harley Foster, Yancey Tucker and Sheriff Ed Bridges who keeps the peace in fictitious Waltons Mountain, Jefferson County, Virginia.
At bedtime the Waltons turned off the lights and said good night and on one occasion Elizabeth asked her Momma and Daddy to sing the old song “The Old Spinning Wheel” which begins with “There’s an old spinning wheel in the parlor, Spinning dreams of the long-long ago.” It has been a long time ago but re-runs of the Waltons, distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution in syndication, can still be seen on such channels like the “Hallmark Channel.” Good night, May God Bless and…Ya’ll come back now, you here!
Johnson, from Kennesaw, GA., is a speaker, writer of historical essays, author of book “When America Stood for God, Family and Country” and Chairman of the Confederate History and Heritage Month Committee for the Sons of Confederate Veterans on face book at: http://www.facebook.com/ConfederateHeritageMonth