Throughout the pandemic lockdown, I rediscovered “The Waltons” and watched all 221 episodes.
Someplace alongside the way in which, I realized that the traditional TV present a few Melancholy-era household in rural Virginia made its prime-time debut on Sept. 14, 1972.
That’s 50 years in the past.
I began emailing myself notes about faith references in particular episodes — these with titles equivalent to “The Sinner”, “The Sermon” and “The Baptism” — and marked the anniversary date on my calendar. Journalists are at all times searching for a narrative, do not you realize?
I pitched a bit to The Related Press. To my delight, International Faith information director David Crary and information editor Holly Meyer let me write it. This isn’t laborious information, however I hope it’s fascinating.
Talking of AP buddies, Matt Curry and I labored collectively within the Dallas bureau from 2003 to 2005. Curry later left journalism and attended Brite Divinity Faculty at Texas Christian College. He is a giant fan of “The Waltons,” and his household’s expertise became the lede for my feature:
The Rev. Matt Curry’s dad and mom have been kids of the Nice Melancholy, identical to “The Waltons” — the beloved TV household whose prime-time collection premiered 50 years in the past.
When Curry was rising up on a farm in northern Texas, his carpenter father and instructor mom usually argued playfully over who had a poorer childhood.
“The Melancholy was the seminal time of their lives — the time that was about household and survival and making it via,” stated Curry, now a 59-year-old Presbyterian pastor in Owensboro, Kentucky. “My dad used to speak about how his dad would go work out of city and ship $5 every week to feed and dress the household.”
So when “The Waltons,” set in 1932 and operating via World Battle II, debuted on CBS on Sept. 14, 1972, the Currys recognized intently with the storylines.
I loved interviewing two stars of “The Waltons”: Richard Thomas (John-Boy Walton) and Kami Cotler (Elizabeth Walton).
The story explores how the collection delved into religious themes at a time when the TV networks tended to keep away from them. As for the explanation, Thomas factors to the present’s creator, the late Earl Hamner Jr., on whose life the fictional collection relies:
“The spiritual side of the present needed to do with the truth that Earl Hamner was speaking a few time and a spot … the place these points have been very a lot in play,” stated Thomas, now a grandfather of 4. “I imply, in a small group within the mountains of Virginia within the Melancholy, in the event you don’t cope with the church side of issues, then you definately don’t cope with issues as they have been.”
In a 1976 episode, a decide making an attempt to steer John-Boy, an aspiring author, to not print an embarrassing story within the Blue Ridge Chronicle tells him: “John, you take your self and your paper a lot too significantly. You are not representing the New York Instances and even the Charlottesville Progress. You are a bit county newspaper.”
“Choose Thornbury,” John-Boy responds, “I am very nicely conscious of the truth that I am not in the identical league with any of these newspapers in some ways, however I prefer to assume I’ve one thing in widespread with them, and that is a bit little bit of integrity.”
A cool factor: My AP story made Wednesday’s entrance web page of the Charlottesville Progress — about 25 miles from the place Hamner grew up.