The Waltons: A Lesson in Family

By Ashley Allgood
I was born in 1975, and one of my favorite TV shows, The Waltons, came out in 1971. I didn’t watch the show until many years later. I had actually just started watching Little House On The Prairie and many people told me, “You should watch The Waltons.” So one day I gave in and watched a few episodes. I fell in love with the show right away.
The show is based on the real family of a man named Earl Hamner, Jr. He wrote a book about his family called The Homecoming. The show was made into a movie, and not long after that the movie became a TV show that is still very popular today. The show takes place during the Great Depression and World War II in the Virginia mountains. The story is told through the oldest brother’s eyes, John Boy. He lives with his mother, father, grandparents, and six younger brothers and sisters.

What makes this show so special?

It’s easier to answer what doesn’t make it special, but I’ll try to keep my list short. The show focuses on family working together. One of the early episodes shows the children excited about going to a local carnival. Even if they can’t afford to buy much, they are just excited about the opportunity to go. Then, Grandma breaks her glasses and she needs new ones. The children decide that it is more important for grandma to have new glasses instead of them going to the carnival, but each one must decide for himself. I find it a very powerful moment as each child hands over his or her money. The children know the value of money, and it took them a long time to earn the little bit they had, but their love for Grandma is stronger. They know glasses are more important than a carnival.

The Waltons Main Characters

The main star of the show is John Boy played by Richard Thomas. He dreams of being a writer but feels there is no way it can happen since he lives so far away from New York City, up in the mountains. He is also disheartened because his stories are all about his family. He wonders why anyone would want to read about his family, but he finds he must get his words out on paper daily. Many episodes end with him writing at his desk.
The parents, John and Olivia Walton, are wonderful loving parents. John keeps them all in line, while Olivia is stern and loving. Both are very hard working and encourage their children to be hard workers too. They are loving and affectionate with their children. John and Olivia are also still very much in love. The children in the series are realistic too, and I think any child who watches today can relate to at least one of the kids.
As the oldest, John Boy is often in charge of all of his brothers and sisters. He longs for privacy to just sit and write. He often finds this late at night. Even though he can seem annoyed by his siblings at times, you can see he loves them and cares about him. He takes time to be a good big brother by giving them advice.

The Other Characters

Jason – he’s a natural musician who is always creating music in some way. His character is often writing songs that I really enjoy. He is a good singer too and can play many different instruments.
Mary Ellen – is a tomboy and strong willed. She struggles to find who she is and what life is all about. She can come across as moody, and I’ve heard others say she is the most annoying character, but I find her to be a very realistic teenager.
Ben – is an eager and hardworking boy who often comes up with creative ways to earn money. He is shorter than most boys his age, but makes up for it in spirit.
Erin – is the little sister known for tattling, and wanting everything to be fair. She seems to a typical middle child. She is often called the pretty girl in the family.
Jim-Bob – always has his head in the clouds. He dreams big and longs to fly airplanes. While he doesn’t like school, he loves building everything from a working CB radio to later his own car.
Elizabeth – the youngest Walton is adorable. She is a typical little sister who is sensitive and free spirited.

My Favorites

the waltons pinMy most favorite characters are the grandparents. Grandma and Grandpa Walton are such loveable characters. Grandma is not your typical cookie-baking grandma. She is firm, stubborn, and has a strong belief in hard work no matter how you feel.
Grandpa is very funny, a troublemaker and a nature lover. He always has a story to tell even if it is filled with tall tales. I’ve loved learning that Will Geer, who played Grandpa, really was like the man he portrayed on The Waltons. He really did plant the family garden, and as he walked around where they filmed, he often carried the bag he is seen wearing in the show filled with seeds. His real-life daughter made the bag for him. He taught the children who played his grandchildren in the show to respect and love the land.

In addition, the actress who played Grandma actually had a stroke and she didn’t let that slow her down. She returned to the show even though she could hardly speak and struggled to use one side of her body. Even after the show ended she appeared in the reunion movies.

History Comes Alive

Another great thing about this show is history comes alive. I have learned so much about World War II, since the show often features the family gathered around their radio at night listening to the news or radio shows. It plays actual broadcasts, which I think is pretty cool. The show tells about the invading of Europe, the tragedy of Pearl Harbor, the fear families felt for loved ones going off to war, loved ones missing in action, and even how women stepped up to be active in supporting our country during war time.
Like Little House on the Prairie you also get to know the people of Walton Mountain. You grow to love the owner of the local store, Mr. Godsey, and his wife, Corabeth. You laugh at the innocence of the Baldwin sisters and their “recipe.” Plus there are plenty of other town folk that you get to know.
Every time I watch the show it’s almost like going back home after a long trip. I can’t help but grin when I see the Walton house. So if you haven’t seen the show, give it a chance, and I’m sure your family will love them as much as we do.

Ashley Allgood is a Christian wife married twenty-one years to Michael. They have three children aged 20, 16, and 15. They live in Georgia where they homeschool their children. Ashley is a distributor for Young Living oils. She has always loved writing and story telling. Read her blog, Thoughts Of Faith,

3 thoughts on “The Waltons: A Lesson in Family”

  1. We LOVE the Waltons. My husband’s family is from southeastern Kentucky and so much of what we see on that show makes me think of how my in-laws grew up and how things used to be. Change comes, but it’s the principles of treating one another with kindness that really shines in this show. We were able to watch it on a cable subscription for quite some time, and then they took it off…

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