This weekend I marked another check beside one of the items on my bucket list. Truth be told I don’t have a written list, but I do have things in my mind that I’d like to accomplish or just do for fun before I pass on. For those who follow my blogs you know I talked about the television series, The Walton’s a few months ago in one of them. I spoke of a day when I would visit Walton’s Mountain and stand high upon the terraces of rock and soil and smell and see the same things that John, Olivia, Zeb, Esther, John Boy and all the other Walton clan once did. And maybe, just maybe some of the Walton’s wisdom would escape those mountain crevices and fill my being.
After searching the Walton’s Mountain website I found directions to the Walton’s Mountain Museum in Schuyler, Virginia. The two hundred mile trip to the summit of the mountain seemed such a short journey. The drive was beautiful up Highway 81, though a bit too much traffic for me, so we took a more scenic route and found ourselves in Lovingston, Virginia a town not too far from the majestic mountain. There we stopped at the visitor’s center and asked for specific directions since the Walton’s Mountain website’s were pretty vague.
The lady at the Lovingston Visitor Center was very helpful. She gave us two maps, told us about a scenic drive along the river and the must see, Crabtree Falls just a short jaunt away. All was going well. Only thirty minutes and I’d be looking at the mountain of my dreams… then it happened. I asked the question that had been burning in my mind for years.
“So this is the real mountain in all the Walton shows?”
The nice lady answers, “Mountain? There’s no mountain.”
I swallow my disappointment and say, “You’re telling me there is no Walton’s Mountain? But this brochure says: Come visit the Schuyler Community Center “ON” Walton’s Mountain.”
She quietly answers, “You’ll have to take that up with the people in Schuyler where the Walton’s Mountain Museum is located.”
I turned to leave, shoulders drooped, head hanging low and tried to block out my husband’s lecturing.
“Do you mean you dragged me two-hundred miles to see a mountain that doesn’t exist?”
He was not happy, but hey, neither was I! All those years, nine in all of watching my favorite family were in vain. The town of Walton’s Mountain was built in the rear area of the Warner Brother’s Studio and the mountains shown in the series is part of the range opposite Warner Studios in Burbank, California. Yes, that’s what I said California!
I felt like a little girl who had all of a sudden been told by her older brother that there really wasn’t a Santa Claus. My husband wanted to turn around and not even visit the homestead of Earl Hamner but I told him I’d come this far and by golly I was going all the way.
Silence shrouded our SUV as we speed even farther toward the illusion of Walton’s Mountain. The Visitor Center ladies directions took us right to the small-unincorporated community of Schyler. It is a quaint little town where a replica of Ike Godsey’s store, the Walton’s living room and kitchen, and John Boy’s bedroom is housed in an old school building. There is also an ancient store where you can purchase artifacts such as re-runs of the Walton series, books by Earl Hamner, the man for who’s life the series is about, and even a copy of the Baldwin sisters, Papa’s recipe. Now don’t think I wasn’t tempted to pay one dollar and a half for that.
All in all the day was not a complete loss. The house where Earl Hamner was raised still stands behind the old store. Rumor has it that he wrote most of his life stories in the shed just off the store building. He may have even written Spencer’s Mountain there. As I looked around that day I realized that all writers alter the truth. Mr. Hamner told the tales of his youth while growing up in the depression years during World War 11. He instilled in all who viewed The Walton’s the values that we should all live by today.
I didn’t get to stand on Walton’s Mountain and dream the dreams of John Boy but the spirit of the show lingers in that small township of Schuyler, and in my heart. The hopes and dreams of a young boy were brought to fruition. Earl Hamner, the real life voice of John Boy Walton at the beginning of every show echo’s in my head almost every time I sit down to write. That kind of writing may be out of date for some, but for this country girl it will always be my favorite. Words that come from the heart are never forgotten.
Goodnight John Boy!
For more information about The Walton’s series you can visit this website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Waltons
I’d like to share another excerpt from my soon to be released novel, The Color of My Heart.
Tomorrow will be my one-hundredth birthday! As I grew old, each year became shorter and shorter. A decade soon became a year, a year a month, a month a week, a week a day…until now…this morning… all that’s left are minutes.
These minutes are now quickly turning to seconds. I am as a timepiece, each second ticking away. As the hands move forward, I swiftly flow from night to day and day to night.
Who will keep the journals? Ever since before the voyage of my grandmother Zessia, our lives have been written down. Zessia had been taught the gift of scribing. She started penning her life on paper before she was ten years old, and from her the pen was passed to her daughter, my mother, Tilley, then to me. Who will carry on? Nelda won’t be here. What will Laura do when she reads the books? Will she continue the tradition of our families, or will she turn her back to the truth?