What Do You Mean There’s No Mountain?

I grew up on Walton’s Mountain…except there really isn’t a mountain. Nor is the family named Walton. Confused? Let me start over. I grew up in Schuyler, Virginia. It’s a small town nestled at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It was made famous by Earl Hamner, Jr. who wrote Spencer’s Mountain based on his childhood and then created the television series The Waltons.

When I was born my family lived just a couple of doors down from the Hamners’.  Shortly thereafter we moved over the hill.

Earl and I share a birthday except he is forty years older than me. I often visited with his mother while growing up. She was a sweet lady who loved feeding me. When I started taking cosmetology classes she let me cut her hair and I continued until I moved away. Once while Earl was in town filming a special with the cast from the show he told me I should come by and do their hair. Being a teenager I wasn’t sure if he was serious or not so I didn’t.  Anyway, he was gracious and it tickled me for him to ask whether he meant it or not.

Over the years I met many of the cast members, but my all-time favorite was Will Geer who played Grampa. He had a genuine smile with a twinkle in his eye and the softest and warmest hands I’d ever felt in an older gentleman.

The elementary school I attended as a child closed down and is now a museum showcasing artifacts from the show and replicas from the Hamners and the time period.

The Hamner homestead was sold several years back and was bought by my cousin who restored it and opened it as a B&B.

This is the original Hamner home where the Hamners lived, not where The Waltons was filmed.

This is the original Hamner home where the Hamners lived, not where The Waltons was filmed.

My first grade classroom is now a replica of the Hamner kitchen.

My first grade classroom is now a replica of the Hamner kitchen.

Another angle of the kitchen.

Another angle of the kitchen.

This sign cracked me up!

This sign cracked me up!

...And here's the still, or as they called it the "recipe machine".

…And here’s the still, or as they called it the “recipe machine”.

This is the Baldwin sisters' parlor.

This is the Baldwin sisters’ parlor.
The Waltons' living room

The Waltons’ living room

Another shot of the living room

Another shot of the living room

The radio - their outside source of news and entertainment

The radio – their outside source of news and entertainment

Good night, John Boy! Of course, it wouldn't be complete without a shot of his room and desk.

Good night, John Boy! Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a shot of his room and desk.

This is a plaque from the local high school writing chapter named in Earl's honor...and yes, I was inducted into the society when I attended the county high school.

This is a plaque from the local high school writing chapter named in Earl’s honor…and yes, I was inducted into the society when I attended the county high school.
Ike Godsey's store is in my third grade classroom. The real store is just a shot up the road from the museum/school.

Ike Godsey’s store is in my third grade classroom. The real store is just a shot up the road from the museum/school.

39 thoughts on “What Do You Mean There’s No Mountain?

  1. Wow, so your hometown basically inspired a show synonymous with wholesomeness and family values? That’s wild. I’m fairly certain my neighborhood is never going to be featuring any museums. I mean, we get to do things like remember the time the pimp down the street parked his Mercedes in the middle of the road an lit it on fire so the police couldn’t confiscate it, but it’s hardly the bucolic little paradise you grew up in.

    I drove the entire Blue Ridge back in 2010, camped beside the James River, it’s a beautiful area out there. It was actually quite the adventure, since my car was dying when it idled and the battery was dead (couldn’t start without a jump). I got to drive the whole of Shenandoah NP engine braking to keep the RPM above 1000 and not stopping until I found the Autozone in Front Royal. Still, it’s a very pretty part of the country.

    Connor Rickett blogs at his business site and at his personal (for fun) site. Stop by and say hi!

    • “Stuff” happened in the boonies, too…but the people stuck together to help one another out.
      The Blue Ridge is a beautiful ride…love the James and Rockfish rivers; lots of history there.
      Sounds like you have lots of writing material (inspiration) from where you grew up.

  2. Fascinating. Quite scary to think that I can remember when a radio like that was state-of-the-art. I was out of school before the first transistor sets hit the shops.

  3. I didn’t know he wrote Spencer’s Mountain either! One of my favorite movies while I was growing up on the other side of the Blue Ridge. Thanks for the pictures and the trip back into Walton history. What a great heritage!

  4. Edie has recently discovered The Waltons show. She is fascinated by it – not just because it’s set so locally.
    When we first moved here, I worked with Jim Hamner and later his nephew, Beau. Good folks.

    • I think it’s wonderful they did that. While Mrs. Hamner was alive and before the museum was put together busloads of people would show up daily and she’d graciously allow them into her home (for free) for a tour.

  5. Such rich history, and you’re so blessed to have shared a part of it! I love historical museums like this. As one who watched The Waltons, I find this fascinating. Love the photos in this and your last post.

  6. I had no idea that you were raised among TV royalty. The Waltons was my favorite show for many years. It was a standing bit of affectionate humor for me to say, “Goodnight, Mom – goodnight, Dad – goodnight, John Boy.” How lovely to get some inside shots. It’s so long ago that I last saw a Waltons show that I don’t remember what things looked like. These pics bring me back to those bittersweet days. I especially love the old radio!

  7. Suzi, I found this post utterly FASCINATING! How cool that you MET people from the cast!

    ” It was made famous by Earl Hamner, Jr. who wrote Spencer’s Mountain based on his childhood and then created the television series The Waltons.”

    WOW!

    Awesome photos. LOVE the one of the radio!

    Thanks for sharing, my friend…..X

  8. Loved this post . . . especially that inviting kitchen. I could imagine the biscuits coming out of the oven. YUMMY!

    When we lived in North Carolina, we cruised the Blue Ridge Parkway on many a weekend. Gorgeous vistas, delicious picnics, sparkling waterfalls.

    Have you ever visited Mt. Airy North Carolina . . . inspiration for the Andy Griffith Show (and Opie!)?

    • We have been in the area, but did not go to the actual tourist part…always wanted to. We’re in that locale every now and then so I’ll have to make a point of visiting. Thought about you on our way home from the mountains as we passed the W&M exit!

  9. So cool – we used to go to sleep at night, mimicking the “good night, john boy, good night ma, good night elizabeth, good night pa,” routine from our respective bedrooms – my dad, I’m sure, rolling his eyes but smiling.
    Love the “recipe machine,” and noticed in one of the photos at street sign that read, “Tree Top Lane.” I think I’d love to live on that lane.
    Thanks for sharing these photos – it looks like a peaceful place with a great sense of home.

  10. I never really got into the Walton’s on TV, but how COOL is it that you have a personal connection?! Thanks for sharing your journey in pictures; I especially love John-Boy’s room and his wall of windows!

  11. I didn’t watch the Walton’s often (I preferred Little House on the Prairie) but I saw it a few times because my parents watched it. How fascinating that you had such a connection to the inspiration for it. I like what they did with the school house.
    P.S. I have a Quill and Scroll pin, too. I had forgotten about that!

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