Thursday, June 23, 2011

A BACKWARD LOOK

My roots in the Virginia earth are deep. My mother’s people came here from the walled city of Lucca in the Tuscany region of Italy. They came as indentured servants to Thomas Jefferson who intended to start a wine industry in Virginia. They brought cuttings from their vines but the grapes did not adapt to the Virginia soil, and withered away.

Not so the Gianinni clan. On land granted to them by Mr. Jefferson they became farmers in the shadow of Monticello Mountain. They prospered in Albemarle County and intermarried with a group of footwashing Baptists.

At the same time my father’s people had emigrated from Wales, leaving their village of Hanmer near the northern border of Wales and England. They had acquired land along the James River and were raising tobacco. They tended to be tall and thin, a sentimental crew, who loved their families, and their wine, and who had to be goaded by their wives to attend church, but once there they could out sing the clearest and loudest voice in the choir.

Somehow descendants of these two clans, in the Great American Melting Pot tradition, found each other, married, and their descendants, the families of my mother and my father, early in the new century moved to a small village in Nelson County to work in the soapstone quarries and mill. When my Grandfather Hamner developed polio, and was no longer able to take care of his family, my own father, at twelve years of age quit school, and took a job toting water to workers in the soapstone quarries at Schuyler. My mother graduated from high school but, as she used to claim, she went through high school eight more times while coaching each of her children through to graduation.

Of their eight children seven of them were normal, but one was strange. That was me.

I was an odd looking boy, leaping to six feet tall when I was fourteen, all long, skinny wrists, unruly red hair, shoulders slumped in an attempt to lean closer to my companions.


Earl and friends at Schuyler High School. 1939.

We were in the midst of the Great Depression of the Twenties and Thirties. Like our neighbors we were self-sufficient but cash money was almost non-existent. And I had a secret, strange and impossible dream.

Years later, when I was writing the screenplay for my television movie “The Homecoming” I tried to put into words some of those alien, confused, and mysterious yearnings.

In the play, Olivia, John-Boy’s mother has just discovered a tablet the boy has hidden under his mattress. She demands to know what is in it. He replies:
“You know what’s in this tablet, Mama? All my secret thoughts- how I feel, and what I think about. Things I never told anybody ‘till now. What it’s like late at night to hear a whippoorwill call and its mate call back, the rumble of the midnight train crossen the trestle at Rockfish, watchen water go by in the creek and knowen that some day it’ll reach the ocean and wonderen if I’ll ever see the ocean. Sometimes I hike over to Route 29 and watch the people in their cars and wagons go by and I wonder what their lives are like. Things stay in my mind, Mama. I can’t forget anything. It all gets bottled up and sometimes I feel like a crazy man. Can’t sleep or rest till I rush off up here and write it in that tablet.

“I do vow,” replied Olivia.

“If things had been different, Mama, I think I could have done somethen with my life. What I would have liked, Mama, was to have tried . . .to be .. a writer!
“If that’s what you want, couldn’t you still try? “ Asked Olivia.

“It wouldn’t be right,” he answered. “Not in these times. It takes a college education to be a writer and even if we had the money it wouldn’t be right to risk it all on me. And anyway I can’t disappoint my daddy. He’s got his heart set on me taking up a trade.”

Olivia replied, “He just want you to know how to make a living.”
“I could sure never do that scribblen things down in a tablet.”

But time would prove me wrong. Through the intervention of Laura Horsley, the wife of our company doctor I received a scholarship to the University of Richmond. But that was only half the battle. The scholarship paid for tuition only. There was still food and board, textbooks to be bought, fees of several kinds. Through the generosity of three of my father’s sisters I was taken into their home in Richmond and given food and lodging. Our local Baptist minister gave me a crash course in Latin, one of the requirements the University needed before I could qualify to accept the scholarship. My father ruefully parted with the white shirt he had planned to be buried in, and my mother spent the money she earned from selling eggs and buttermilk to buy me a suit from Sears and Roebuck. She showed a picture of it to me in the catalogue before it arrived – “the fabric is of green herringbone, with vest to match and an extra pair of trousers.” And it cost nineteen dollars and ninety-five cents. Took every cent of my mother’s buttermilk money!

I entered the University of Richmond in the autumn of 1940. I was unsure of myself, in an alien world, among other boys who were obviously more sophisticated in their manner and dress. The largest city I had visited until now was Charlottesville, usually on a Saturday morning when country people clogged Main Street in their horse and buggies. I had never ridden a streetcar, driven a car, or talked on a telephone.

But I was on time for my first class, and the strangeness gradually went away. The tall boy with the red hair wearing the green herringbone suit was on his way! A writer was in the making!

That was the autumn of 1940. And just recently, decades later, I received the following stunning announcement.”

LIBRARY OF VIRGINIA ANNOUNCEMENT

Earl Hamner to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Nelson County native Earl Hamner, writer of novels, television shows, and movies and the force behind the semiautobiographical television series The Waltons, will receive the 2011 Literary Lifetime Achievement Award from the Library of Virginia at the 14th Annual Literary Awards Celebration on October 15, 2011.

Hamner grew up in Schuyler, Virginia, with seven brothers and sisters. From an early age he exhibited a love of words and writing. When he was six his poem, “My Dog” was published on the Children’s Page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. His potential was recognized and he received encouragement from his teachers and members of the tight-knit community.

Hamner received a scholarship to the University of Richmond, but midway through his sophomore year Hamner was drafted. He spent time learning to drive tanks and diffuse mines, but his ability to type landed him in the Quartermaster Corps. While in the U.S. Army Hamner began to submit stories for publication.

After his discharge in March 1946 he returned to Richmond and briefly worked for local radio station WMBG. In the fall of 1946 Hamner enrolled in the school of broadcasting at the University of Cincinnati and graduated in 1948.

Shortly after graduation Hamner went to New York City and found work as a radio writer for NBC. His first book, Fifty Roads to Town, was published by Random House in 1953 and in 1961 his novel Spencer’s Mountain was published by Dial Press.

He began writing scripts for episodes of the Twilight Zone and CBS Playhouse. The film rights to Spencer’s Mountain were purchased by Warner Bros. and Hamner was on his way as a success in Hollywood. In 1970 The Homecoming was published by Random House and became a CBS special starring Patricia Neal and later was the basis of the long-running and hugely popular television series The Waltons. Hamner garnered additional fame as a writer for Falcon Crest, a prime time soap opera, which aired on CBS from 1981 to 1990.

Hamner has received numerous honors including:

TV-Radio Writers Award (1967)

George Foster Peabody Award for Distinguished Journalism (1972)

Virginian of the Year Award from Virginia Press Association (1973)

An Emmy for Best Drama Series for The Waltons (1974)

National Association of Television Executives Man of the Year Award (1974)

Virginian Association of Broadcasters Award (1975)

Frederic Ziv Award from the University of Cincinnati for Outstanding Achievement in Telecommunication

P.S. I know I'm shameless, but I couldn't resist adding that my new book ODETTE, A GOOSE OF TOULOUSE, has just been published and is selling briskly on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.

And I just received word that a new short story, 'The Woods Colt," has been selected for inclusion in an anthology of mystery and fantasy to be published in the fall.
Warm Virginia greetings by way of California!

Earl

75 comments:

  1. Congratulations. So well deserved. I am so happy for you that I cried. So proud you'd think we were related with how happy I am for you. LOL

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  2. A wonderful story, and an honour so greatly deserved. Congratulations Earl.

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  3. Congratulations! This is a well-deserved honor. No one can write a story like you! I just finished reading "Odette" and loved it. I can't wait to share it with the children at my grandson's school. Thank you, Earl for all your wonderful stories. God bless you and your family.Karen Scearce

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  4. Congrats Earl! I'm almost done reading Spencer's Mountain right now. Funny how familiar some of the text above is after reading how Clay-Boy had to learn Latin from the minister (I read that part last night). Just want to say, I started watching the Waltons again on the Inspiration Channel recently and I'm enjoying each episode thoroughly. It's nice to have a great, morally good television show to watch, as we're bringing up a new born. Thanks for all our contributions to good books, TV and movies.

    Karl Searl
    http://livefreeandhikenh.blogspot.com

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  5. What a wonderful honor! (I've enjoyed watching The Waltons again as they have been reairing them.) Enjoy this special tribute and celebration!

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  6. Congratulations, Mr. Hamner...an honor that is well deserved! So glad you are back to the blog! Looking forward to reading "Odette" to my niece and nephew triplets.

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  7. Congratulations on the 2011 Literary Lifetime Achievement Award from the Library of Virginia!
    I have spent some wonderful hours watching the Waltons. I just reread The Avocado Drive Zoo! I am looking forward to Odette!

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  8. Congratulations on this great honor; it is well deserved. Continue living and writing and my family and I will continue to show our support from San Antonio, Texas. Best Wishes!!

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  9. Congratulations, Mr. Hamner! I have been introducing my sixth grade students to you and The Waltons for the past 10 years. The shows are a great addition to my classroom as it reviews many of the Virginia Standards of Learning criteria. Best wishes on your new book!

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  10. Congratulations from another one of your many fans who think you hung the moon.

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  11. Well I for one, am not one bit surprised that you are being honored with this prestigious award! They are simply recognizing what so many people already knew...you are a wonderful writer. You have the ability to write about the most everyday things and bring them alive with poetic writing. So congrats! You have earned it.

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  12. A long overdue honor from your home state. They should also give you an award for promoting Virginia tourism! So many tourists have flocked to this state with The Waltons as their impetus! Congratulations from a HUGE fan!!

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  13. Thanks for sending this link to me. I'll follow your blog more closely now.
    I've felt an affinity with you ever since I first read your "Spencer's Mountain" book and watched a Walton TV show (I still watch them). I later discovered my own grandfather's writings. He, too, was a avid writer and wrote about his growing up years and that of his own children in a small Texas town. He starting detailing their lives in 1924 and went up until they were grown with families of their own in the 1950's. His stories were in the form of letters to his children detailing their day to day lives in a small Texas town. I treasure these stories and yours. You are so well deserving of this most recent reward - you have brought the past to life for a post-WWII generation.

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  14. Congratalations Earl. As the great Coach Vince Lombardi said, once in his life every Man deserves a testimony to his lifes work.

    Surely no man is more deserving than Mr. Earl Hamner.

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  15. Congratulations, Earl!! Thank you for helping us keep wholesome thoughts with your writings. It is so important in this crazy world these days. I agree with Sylvia about the Virginia tourism, I certainly visited Virginia for the "Waltons". Beautiful country AND people. I love the Waltons (always have) and used a lot of the stories in Sunday School. Also loved Falcon Crest. A huge thank you to you, Sir.

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  16. This is wonderful! Congratulations Earl ♥ !

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  17. What an honor and what a deserved honor!

    I remember as a little girl, seeing Spencer’s Mountain for the first time in a movie theater! It was such a treat to get to go to the movies and that movie left such an impression on me. I remember seeing “The Homecoming” for the very first time and from then on, it became a family ritual each winter to watch it. We literally built our agendas around that movie as part of our Christmas tradition. Now that I am able to watch it on DVD, I can revisit it any time I want and find myself doing that quite often in the heat of the summer months! As a child, I always tried to be home in time to see The Waltons each week. They were just like family to us and quite like my mother and father’s families. We live in the Ozark Mountains in Missouri and country is our way of life. Of course, over the years, our countryside has become more and more citified, which saddens me, but I can now watch The Waltons about any time I want, and travel back to those wonderful growing up days in the country. You’re writing has truly touched my life and I am so proud that you received this award.

    Many blessings,

    Vicki Benes
    Reeds Spring,MO

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  18. Congratulation on receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. I've always enjoyed your writing ability. Maybe a little bit jealous of your talent, but a writing talent well earned.
    M. Copper

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  19. Congraulations and thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing these wonderful life stories of a challenging time and a truly decent American, God loving family. Let's hope our families in the future reflect the morals, values and responsibilitiies towards one another such as the Hamners did in our recent past.
    You have definitely earned this tremendous award. Thank you once again.

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  20. A hearty CONGRATULATIONS! What a well deserved honor. I remember growing up, our whole family watching the Walton's together. Your works have made such a positie difference in my life - Thank you!

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  21. Congratulations on receiving this honor. It's so well deserved!
    Blessings,
    Marcia

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  22. Congratulations on this great honor, Mr. Hamner! I remember growing up in Virginia, and appreciating stories you told that were similar to my parents' own upbringing during the depression. And now that both my parents are gone, your stories are living on in my own children's lives (thanks to DVDs and syndication)!

    Many blessings from Colorado (via Virginia, of course)!

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  23. Lifetime Achievement Award! Wow what an accomplishment. I have to say I have been an avid fan of yours and the Walton's tv shows since I was 8 years old. My Dad and I watched the Walton's every week together. He was born in 1917 and he always enjoyed pointing things out about the similarities to his own upbringing in eastern NC. My daughter and I now watch it every week night on the Inspiration Channel. How wonderful to get to share those episodes again. Please keep the blog going...so many of us keep checking it to see how you are doing. Congratulations!Shamelessly..Goodnight John Boy
    Lou Edmondson-Gray NC

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  24. I wish I could be there to see that and to lay my eyes upon you as my family claimed to have back in the day. I am unable to travel due to medical reasons and you, dear man,You remind me of home. I think you of all folks understand when I say,"I am home whenever I close my eyes and whisper, "Goodnight."
    Angela Marie ajaeger1@cfl.rr.com

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  25. Congratulations for a well deserved honor! Your work is interwoven into the fabric of American life. I can't imagine my life without the experience of watching The Walton's with my family when I was a teenager! (Don't tell anyone, but, I wanted to marry John-Boy or at least a boy just like him.)

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  26. Loyal Walton's Fan from VAJune 25, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    I adore the Waltons and have The Homecoming in Readers Digest from way back when. My family and I took a trip to your old hometown a few months ago and visited the museum and Walton's Mountain Store and Post Office. We got a bit lost back there but it was all good. We secretly took pictures of us in the rooms on "John Boys bed" and in the kitchen area, we even took photos of the infamous Recipe room and had a blast! Your honors are much well deserved and hope you the best in all your work!

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  27. Mr. Hamner, I am always blessed by your writing! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories with us.

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  28. Mr. Hamner,
    Congratulations on your well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award! I tweeted it to help spread the word of your wonderful work.

    I'm a newcommer to the Waltons as I didn't watch the show when it was originally televised. These days, thanks to you and the Hallmark Channel, I'm spending my afternoons eating homemade apple crisp and basking in everyday life on Walton's Mountain.

    At any rate, my mother always told me that I picked up in 1947 where her mother left off in 1943. She meant I was born kind of old, singing songs and knowing names and terms as a child that were coined long before I was born. Now that I'm spending my afternoons with the Walton Family I am convinced that Mom was on to something.

    The show has brought me great comfort by spiriting me back to a time when people were more grounded. When, in the end, decisions were made around sterling family values.

    The stories bring tears to my eyes, lilt to my soul and joy to my heart...often all in one episode. Thank you for your many timeless and delightful tales.

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  29. Very happy for you and your accomplishments!

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  30. Earl! So thrilled by this most recent accomplishment! Many, many congratulations! :)

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  31. Congratulations Earl on being chosen to be given the 2011 Literary Lifetime Achievement Award from the Library of Virginia at the 14th Annual Literary Awards Celebration on October 15, 2011. Well deserved!

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  32. Congratulations on your well-deserved award, Mr. Hamner!

    Thank you for continuing to share your memories and wonderful stories with us!

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  33. Hey Cuz - Congrats! Everyone is just so proud of you.

    Bonnie Hodgkins

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  34. I literally just said OH!And got giddy for you. Crazy but not hard to believe when I feel like I know you as well as any family member.By the way I just recently down loaded Avocado Drive to my kindle. I laughed my butt off, you and your wife have to be saint's. Two teen boys and two cats are more than I can handle.I had to agree half way through the book with you,they do see you two coming from a mile away. Congratulations and God Bless

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  35. Thank you for A Backward Look.I am especially grateful for your writing and particularly thankful for The Waltons. I credit the program for helping to instill in my children the values that now guide them in their adult lives.
    I read that you considered writing about a family leaving Los Angeles. I believe it would be a successful endeavor despite what you may have been advised.
    I live in Los Angeles County,and every member in our family has felt threatened. At 2 am On the 4th of July in 2010- 3 gang members who had had crashed the family gathering earlier that day returned to break into his daughters bedroom window. He was nearly beaten to death.
    People all over this country want to "go home"..to Walton's mountain. To my parents, the Waltons were a sweet nostalgic trip down memory lane. But to my children who discuss daily how they can build a new life for themselves and their children in the immediate future...the episodes are instructions and blueprints-for a "Foundation".
    Thank You, MD in California

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  36. Forgive the editing mistake in the above post.
    The incident happened to one of my sons, who also lives in Los Angeles county.

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  37. I'm thrilled for you - the award is richly deserved. And happy for us because the occasion of this announcement gives us a chance to learn, through your wonderful storytelling, more about your people.

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  38. Congratulations! You, my friend have been quite the inspiration to me since I was young. I may never write as successfully as you have, but I will "always" write! The love of writing is deeply woven through every part of my being!

    Though I did not grow up in Virginia, I have found a deep love within me for its most beautiful mountains. I live in Richmond, however, I must go to the mountains regularly. It is there where GOD speaks loudest to my heart. Very simply, I need to find a hollow place and dip my toes in the creek and write. Thankfully, those beautiful mountains are only a couple of hours from my home.

    GOD bless you as you continue to write and encourage so many others!

    Blessings,

    Andrea Bowling Perdue

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  39. Congratulations on your award! I just found your blog and I am so glad I did. I am watching the Waltons on television as I type this. I loved the show when I was a teenager and still love it today. I live in the neighboring state of West Virginia and I just started writing a few years ago. My stories are inspired by memories and happenings in my parents and grandparents' lives. I keep the memories alive by writing about them.
    God bless you

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  40. Hello Mr. Hamner.
    I'm delighted to have found your web site which includes this blog section. I especially thank you for the item you wrote about Will Geer near Christmas in 2009.
    Back in 1973 I did a telephone interview with you for the radio station where I was working at the time here in Nova Scotia.
    I've tried to send you an email to invite you to be a guest on my current weekly radio show that's heard on 10 stations in various parts of Canada. Each time a message comes back that it is undeliverable.
    If you read this note, I would be so grateful if you could send me an email at sj@eastlink.ca so I could correspond with you about being a guest on that radio program.
    A sincere thank you for all the joy - and a few tears - your work has brought to me over the years.

    Loran Fevens, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

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  41. Nancy Padgett Warner Okla.July 9, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    Mr.Hamner,Thank you for sharing your gift with the world!I have been a fan for 40 years!

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  42. Happy Birthday Mr. Hamner! God Bless You and Have A Great Day! Lou

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  43. I want to say Thank you for your stories your sharing your life for making the times of your childhood come back to life for allowing us that follow you in the Waltons to be able to see all families really are families no matter how they became a family no matter how they struggle or their religous beliefs through your words and stories we are so Blessed to of had you in the world I personally have taken many of the life lessons from your book and The Waltons series to help get me through some very rough times I can not Thank You enough I once was asked my favorite all time person living or dead I said Well theres Mark Twain but then Theres Earl Hamner how can I choose? As i side note when I was 12 I watched the Waltons of course and the Literary Man was the latest one on Tv I having struggles with middle child and feeling I was being neglected had became ill with a flu virus living in Mo and only dreaming I would ever get to see the real Waltons Mountian faked more sick than I was I had seen Jim Bob have appendix removed and well Knew how to be sicker I had my appendix removed and come to find out I was only sick and during the exploritory surjury they just removed them to be safe I finaly told my parents 40 yrs later. Much Love and Respect Karen IN Colorado

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  44. Congratulations!
    Glad you are being recognized & honored.

    Still enjoying your writings & The Walton's.
    Love reading your Blog.
    Do you have a sight that posts when you might be speaking...anywhere near TN sometime?
    I would love to attend.
    Thanks & Hope you are having a wonderful summer!
    ~KellyRae
    email: kellyrae@lastingimagepro.com
    Blog: http://kellyrae-justsimplyme.blogspot.com/
    website: www.lastingimagepro.com

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  45. PS: Was wondering; do you ever read or look at non-published authors to give them pointers or advice? Or do you give any writing seminars?

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  46. Mr. Hamner "John Boy" (smile)
    CONGRATULATIONS for all you have achieved!

    I watched the Waltons frequently when it originally was televised. My interest has been sparked again in just running thru channels & seeing it's on. I now make a point to watch
    every day mostly from 3 until 6 p.m. I LOVE every episode as it reminds me of my family's visits to our grandparents in the rural parts of Maryland & Virginia. It is a beautiful wholesome "breath of FRESHNESS" that I feel I can "escape" TO... ...FROM the face-paced busy, high tech, stressful lifestyles of the current time. I sometimes hate to turn on the news after watching those pleasurable episodes of life, when it was pure and simple during that era when I was born. I feel a connection also, since I live about 60 miles east of "Waltons Mountain", & travel Route 29 often, visiting my sister near Lynchburg, VA.
    I LOVE it. Thank You, "A Loyal Fan"

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  47. Always a fan...and love that I've now found your blog. My mother tells me that my aunt was from the 'original Walton's Mountain' which always gave me a chuckle. It is true though, she is from a family from that Virginia area. Great blog and congratulations on your award.

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  48. I too grew up in Virginia in the late 60's and 70's and though many years after you did....I spent many wonderful days frolicking in that water that finally made it's way to the sea!

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  49. Congratulations, Mr. Hamner, for such a well-deserved award! I loved "Spencer's Mountain" and I grew up watching "The Waltons," beginning with "The Homecoming." My favorite part was always the lead-in with John Boy's short narrative. Now, our children are watching all of the beloved episodes and enjoying them as much as I.

    I knew, too, as a young child that I wanted to be a writer. Your words as "John Boy" gave me the courage to keep trying just one more time...
    My long-held aspiration is finally coming true, thanks in large part, to you.

    As we say in the Ozarks...Mighty nice knowing you! May God continue to bless you!

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  50. Congratulations on your accomplishments Mr. Hamner. I, personally, will always hold dear your greatest accomplishment, " The Waltons".
    I embrace the show with a mixture of enjoyment and sadness that such a time as that has passed in our culture. I am too young to remember the shows on evening prime time, but old enough to remember my mother blanking out that time slot to watch the show and discussing the episodes with aunts and friends as if talking about family. As an adult, I discovered for myself the joy it brought my mother, and desired to reflect the values and lessons learned by fictional characters each episode into our real and daily lives. The values are timeless, and I often wish we could so simply return to that time in our culture as easily as we turn on the dvd player to enjoy them portrayed in our living room. The influences of the show are evident in bits and peices throughout my life - my daughter named Erin, ( when I first loved the name ). Our house that often brings first time visitors to exclaim, " this looks so similar to the Walton's house". The checkered tablecloth that covers my kitchen table, bringing warmth and a touch of nostalgia. Last but not the least - the cast photo's that hang proudly on my wall, as if they are extended family photo's, along with a glossy 8x10 photo of Olivia and Grandma's kitchen ( taken at the museum ) , as if one can smell the bread baking or hear the back door slam.
    It was not the creation of the show that is your greatest accomplishment Mr. Hamner, though that is indeed great ; it is that you immortalized a time and place in our culture that reminds these generations of a simpler, family and friends first society that no longer seems important or "relevant" today.

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  51. Mr. Hamner. You are an amazing storyteller, and a true American treasure. Thank you for sharing your talent with us all!

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  52. Mr. Hamner,
    You are my role model. My daughter, Bliss, and I spend many hours watching re-runs of the Waltons. Being a writer was once a dream of mine, one that I gave up over time. Knowing that you are still excited about writing at the age of 88 inspires me to begin today to write and to rediscover my dream.
    I have subscribed to your blog and I hope you will continue to write and keep us well-informed of what you are creating.
    Thank you for sharing your gift of story.

    All the Best,
    Deby Dagher

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  53. Helen J Cottrell-RosencransSeptember 15, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    I am so very Happy for you. You gave me the Family I never had,as a child being raised by my Grandparents we never missed a Thursday Olivia and John were the parent's I longed for and being an only child I dreamed of having all those brothers and sisters. The minute The show was put on vhs I purchased them all . And now I have all the dvds. and not a day goes by that I don't watch and episode, also this spring 4/2011 I finally made it to Walton's mt. It was thrilling for me to walk in to your home sit on the steps of your porch and walk the roads you once walked. GOD BLESS you always!!

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  54. Very fond memories of the Waltons, and i hope your able to post a new post. One of the best TV shows in history. Richard from Amish Stories.

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  55. Congratulations, much deserved! I've been rediscovering The Waltons lately on The Inspiration Channel and wondered what you were up to these days and found this blog. :) I live in Mathews County Virginia (originally from Norfolk and then Lancaster County). I have been to "Waltons Mountain" several times; the first time when the museum opened. Our son was 15 months old and the media interviews were taking so long we had to live to drive back to Richmond because he was young and needed food and sleep! Our second visit was when he was a little older and Kami Cotler was there. My son had been playing on the see-saw out back and had a small cut on his head from a fall. Kami saw him crying and went up to him and kissed his forehead--and he was so surprised that "Elizabeth" was all grown up! To him, the re-re-re-runs were new and she was a child! That was so sweet of her. She autographed a postcard for him and he still has it, although he is now grown up himself. :)

    I loved The Waltons when I was growing up in a dysfunctional family. I learned the values of hard work, sacrifice and pulling together from that show. My family, while large, was in no way else similar to The Waltons. I credit that TV show, and the books, with the person I am today. I related to John Boy--I, too, loved to write. But no one was interested in my scribbles. I sent in several poems to a Sunday morning radio show and they were read and discussed on-air. I listened to the show alone in my room; no one else in the family would've been interested. My writing was a private thing. I still mourn the journals and notebooks that my siblings took one day when I was away, and they destroyed them. I was "weird" for writing about the every day things, my life, my hopes and dreams. After that, I seldom wrote, except in my head. No one could destroy my thoughts.

    No one was interested in me or what became of me, and I had to quit school to help my widowed mother. Education was not something held out to me as an option. I did eventually finish high school but I have always continued to learn and always will. I do have common sense and am curious and an insatiable reader. Now that I am in my 50's and my son is grown, I have started writing again. None of it may ever be published but that's Ok--I write for me.

    Anyway--thanks so much for the books and for The Waltons. In a way, the show helped to raise me--Olivia was my mom and I had wonderful grandparents. :) I have been in a faithful marriage for 31 years which is longer than almost everyone in my family. I had wonderful role models. I can't ever thank you enough! Sending you love and greeting from coastal Virginia...

    Julie C.

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  56. Mr. Hamner, I really think you deserve, without a doubt, a Moral Award. As we grew up watching The Waltons, you have surely expressed to the heart just how people should treat each other. I will always count your stories and teachings a jewel to our lives.
    ~ Rebecca aka. Respect2Glory

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  57. Wonderful, Mr. Hamner! I am excited to read new stories from my favorite author. The best of luck, and thank you for filling our lives with such beautiful writings.

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  58. Congratulations on your much deserved award!
    Best Wishes Lou Edmondson-Gray

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  59. Congratulations Earl. I grew up watching The Waltons and now I find myself returning to it again. Every night before bed I watch the Waltons with my two little girls Olivia and Hailey. They are nine and four years old. My love for the name Olivia came from the wonderful character in the show. The beautiful stories about family and relationship are just as relevant today. I treasure that my children enjoy it so much. Watching The Waltons is a healing experience and will benefit anyone who is not appreciating life to the fullest...with much admiration...Patricia

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  60. October 29,2011

    My family and I really like the Waltons and watch the show before bed. This has become a tradition. My kids are old enough to read your book Spensers mountain so we have just purchased it. I am trying to be a successful writer and wondered if you could give me some tips. I have written two books. The first is an autobiography "Long Island Boy Finds Truth.". I self published it to get started. Thanks for all the good work you do. I feel that the Waltons has helped teach good values to millions. Tommy

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  61. Congratulations on your much deserved award. I grew up watching the Waltons and i now record it and watch it with my boys who are 9, 7 and 5. It makes me think of home. I was the youngest of 8 and even though there was so many of us we always felt loved. I so wish there was more programs based on home values rather than sleeping around and broken families. It makes me wonder if modern tv has something to answer for, it certainly is not my cup of tea. Anyway sorry for the rant, want i really wanted to say was how proud i am of you, how i admire you and what an inspiration you are. God Bless xxxxx Bernadette

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  62. Thank You Earl Hammner for allowing us to be part of your life. You and your family have been my family by means of The walton's. I just love that show because it means so much to me to have something to hold dear. Thanks and may God Bless You

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  63. Mr. Hamner -- I grew up in Lynchburg and drive up amd down Rt. 29 regularly on my way to and from Williamsburg. Often I take Rt. 6 near Schuyler and think of how much I treasured The Waltons when I was in elementary and junior hight school. I always loved hearing familiar place names on a famous television show, and hearing your narration in that very familiar accent. If only the actors sounded as authentic! I still think fondly of those shows today, and am grateful for your literary accomplishments. All the best.

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  64. Hello Earl, It was 70 yrs ago today, Dec 7th when Pearl Harbor was attacked. I would like to know how old you were back then and what do you remember about that day? Did you listen to the radio that day? You can e-mail me privately at littlekitten6 at yahoo.com thanks, Tammy

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  65. I wish he'd update the blog...I keep checking back but it's only old stuff.

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  66. Hello Mr Hamner!

    We have a little condo up at Wintergreen and I have enjoyed learning all about Nelson County! I have four children and they have all now seen the DVD of The Waltons and I love that my children have been influenced by your memories and lessons of this beautiful area.

    I do have two questions for you. First, how did Hurricane Camille affect your family or did it? Second, is your family home in the original location or was it moved?

    Thanks again for sharing your talent and your love for Virginia with America!

    Meg

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  67. Dear Mr. Hamner,

    Later in the year, our family is planning to visit Schuyler, VA to go to the Walton Museum (Lord willing). I am just so tickled. I have some homework to do to make sure we get the most out of our trip. It will be a privilege and honor to see some of your homeland!

    I pray you and your family are doing well.

    The Lord's blessings upon you,
    Katie

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  68. Congrats to you. I have been a fan of the Waltons for so many years, I have all the dvd collections. Whenever I am feeling down with how things are in the world today I pop in a Waltons dvd and it makes me feel better to see how loving and loyal people were back then and how much you all meant to each other. I always wondered what it would be like to have lived in those days and be a part of the Walton/Hamner clan. You are a wonderfully talented man and wish the best for you and all of your wonderful family.

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    1. written by Tami Phillips

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  69. Dear Mr. Hamner,

    Congratulations on your most recent honor! I am delighted that you continue to work and receive recognition for a lifetime of contributions. The Waltons is still my favorite television show. My family often vacations in Virginia; we especially love the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley. Thanks for many great memories!

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  70. As we sat here last evening immersed in "The Walton's," I heard your thoughts in a deeper and more profound way. Age and maturity has given me a deeper appreciation for the words written/spoken through out this series. As my husband and I watch reruns, I often find myself feeling like I have never seen the episode before. Thank you for writing so beautifully and inspiring a little girl (me) so long ago to write.

    I am thankful I was able to meet you in 2009 at The Earl Hamner Theater. I pray you are doing well and enjoying the beauty of each day!

    Blessings and prayers,

    Andrea Bowling Perdue

    http://arise2write.blogspot.com

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  71. Congratulations Mr. Hamner. I have loved and watched the Waltons from the very first airing of the The Homecoming. I think I was around 10 years old when the Homecoming aired.
    To this day I watch the Waltons at 12 and 1 and again at 8 pm.
    I think everyone should watch the Waltons, there is just a ton of things folks today could learn from that show.
    I am thrilled to have found your blog!!

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  72. I am so glad that I have read your blog. I watch "The Waltons" every day. I may not have lived during this era, but the show gives me a sense of notalgia and a longing for the old family days and those friends and family members who are no longer with us. Oh, if I could only turn back the clock so I could write down the stories of those people that I am now afraid are gone forever. I wish I would have kept a journal as religiously as you did. I plan to start now so as not to miss anything any more.
    Deb

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