In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, during the Great Depression, the Walton family makes its small income from its saw mill on Walton's Mountain. The story is told through the eyes of John Boy, who wants to be a novelist, goes to college, and eventually fulfills his dream. The saga follows the family through economic depression, World War II, and through growing up, school, courtship, marriage, employment, birth, aging, illness and death. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I watched this show while it was on television in the 1970s. Because I lived in a very urban and hectic setting, it was my solace. I would escape to this show as a psychological refuge - it really was that valuable. I didn't realize it at the time, but this show gave me a kind of hope for humanity that I've not seen on television since. The decay of the American family over the years has demonstrated that even more over time.
I used to look forward to each and every episode, fascinated by John-Boy and his writing. I always loved school and books, and found his writing exploits to be therapeutic and life-changing. It was at this time that I started writing journals. I had the good fortune to run into Richard Thomas in Hollywood after I'd read a book of his poetry. He had become a father to triplets and was very gracious when I mentioned I'd read his book. He was driving a station wagon filled with Pampers while picking up some orange juice at a market near where I lived.
Seeing this family interact among each other was a stark contrast to my own. My mother worked outside the home evenings, and it was my job to co-parent the children that she had with my step-father. As he was the antithesis of Ralph Waite's character, I believe this is part of the reason why this series had such a profound effect upon me. This is ironic, given that my step-father was old enough to be my mother's father. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that perhaps children in challenging familial situations could benefit greatly from viewing this show. Unlike the frothy Brady Bunch, this show presents how the core of a real and loving family could ideally operate.
For sure, the Depression Era setting would make most any modern child grateful for what he or she has today. Just about every earthly family situation is represented, from daily life at that time to careers, courtships, marriages, births, aging, illnesses and deaths.
The integrity of the parents and how they work together as a team is paramount to how this family survives. They also embrace the wisdom of their parents, who reside with them. Each child is nourished in a way that allows each of them to become whom they wish to be. This is the one aspect that mirrors my life, as my own mother was progressive in her thoughts about personal freedom.
The family dynamic between the grandparents is really entertaining and sweet. The program's multi-generational nature accentuates what is usually a bland and forced storyline in family dramas.
The other characters are charming, too, from the store keeper, Ike Godsey, his rather snooty wife, Corabeth, to the elderly Baldwin sisters and their racy "family recipe" (moonshine whiskey) which they inherited from their father. While the women in the Walton household are opposed to alcohol, Grandpa would sneak out to visit the Baldwins for a little refreshment. Other wandering characters in the show could include people as diverse as gypsies and circus acrobats, which always shown a sharp contrast to this family-centric show.
The core of this show is definitely the interactions among the family, whose simple structure and financial struggles during the Depression to live a decent life during the Great Depression. The communication and warmth are human qualities that many families today lack and viewing this show could benefit them as an example of what a truly caring family team looks like. Despite the fact that the story took place so long ago, the familial aspects of the show are timeless.
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