I Want to Be Like John Boy

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Okay, yes, I admit it. I’m stuck in the past. I enjoy growing a garden and canning vegetables. I love to watch a plow cut through the soil lifting those spuds to the surface. At my house mashed potato’s come from the ground not from a bag full of flakes.


Now don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t want to go back to the days of milking cows and churning butter. But I don’t want to give up my wood heater either. I guess sometimes I just yearn for the days of growing up on a dirt road. Back when you could let your children romp around in the woods and creek beds without worrying if someone would abduct them.


Change is the only thing we can count on happening, that and the mailman bringing bills. Some change is good, and some is not. The view from my living room window has always been beautiful. Right now it’s just a tilled up patch of red clay, but in a few months it will bear a crop of corn or tobacco. Woods surround the field, and most of the time late in the evening deer roams the borders. Several years ago a cell phone tower was constructed on the back section of that property. I remember thinking I’d just die looking at that thing every day. But you know what? When I watch the sunrise over that field I hardly even notice that tower anymore.


In the other direction looking out my back door there is now a huge power-making windmill churning electricity for my neighbor’s house. For some reason when I look up toward the Blue Ridge Mountains and see that thing spinning round and round I find it kind of calming, sort of like my wood heater. The things that bothered me as a silly young woman don’t seem quite as important now.


So much has changed over the years. Television is the thing that most irritates me. There is positively nothing decent to watch on the tube anymore unless it’s Lifetime, Hallmark, or the Pixel channel. Or, of course re-runs on TV Land, and Gunsmoke on the Western Channel, or my favorite, The Walton’s on GMC. John Boy Walton has been my hero from the first day I watched the show. Even after all these years as the program begins John Boy’s Virginia accent puts me in a trance. It’s like a switch goes off and all my stress and worries are magically cancelled out for a while.


John Boy was a writer and as he would go off by himself to write down his stories I pictured myself doing the same thing. In 1971 the show debuted as a movie, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story. The following year it became a weekly show for nine consecutive seasons. When I watch the show now I can’t remember a single one that I haven’t seen before. At age twelve when the show began I felt as dreamy headed as John Boy did.  The Walton parents, John and Olivia instilled integrity in their children. Honorable values like honesty, hard work, compassion for their fellow man, and a great love for family. They also encouraged their children. Even in the hard times of the depression John Boy’s parents supported his dream of becoming a published writer.


I think it should be mandatory that all children watch an episode of The Walton’s every week. Some things of old should not be forgotten. I have a road trip planned for early spring. On March 3, 2012 The Walton’s Mountain Museum will re-open for the season. Yes, Walton’s Mountain is a real place. I can’t wait to visit the home of Earl Hamner, the person from whom John Boy’s character was formed. Here I’ll find replicas of John Boy’s bedroom, the Walton kitchen and living room, and Ike Godsey’s General Store. I want to stand on the mountain and gaze down the hillside as I’ve watched John and Olivia do dozens of times, dreaming of a home they might someday build there. Walton’s Mountain Museum is located off State Road #29 between Charlottesville and Lynchburg, in Schuyler, Virginia.


May I always remember the lessons I learned from the Walton family, and the inspiration that John Boy still gives me as a writer today. Yes, I love history, the old days and ways. Why? Because I long for simple things and people that are just plain old nice. I encountered an author this week and she was pretty ugly to me. Just because she has a few best sellers under her belt doesn’t give her the right to be mean.


I can promise you all one thing. If I ever make any money selling my stories I will not forget where I came from, or the people who helped get me there. If I ever become haughty like that lady was to me, I want someone to first of all slap me for being so stupid, then set me down in front of the television and make me watch an episode of The Walton’s. Then, I’ll be reminded of how people should treat each other. Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we all strived to be a bit more like John Boy?


Goodnight John Boy, Jason, Mary Ellen, Erin, Ben, Jim-Bob, Joseph, Elizabeth, Mama, Daddy, Grandpa, and Grandma.


(Note: Joseph was Jim-Bobs twin who died.)




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