Social media was filled with pictures of family gatherings Thanksgiving week. It was days filled with parties, food, and football. The University of Georgia Bulldogs annihilated by beloved Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. However, the hurt from this loss did not ruin the holiday weekend. Television took care of this.

When I was growing up in the Keithsburg community, we did not have cable or satellite television. We had three channels. As the oldest child, it was my job to go outside and turn the antenna to get a clearer picture when we would change the channel. This was no big deal unless it was cold and raining. Even then, when Daddy wanted to watch something, it was expected.

It was a time when the choice of shows was limited. As a family, we watched the news, Hee Haw, sporting events, and every Billy Graham crusade shown on television. There was one show which would quickly become my favorite. Even to this day. The show was The Waltons. It is about the life of author Earl Hamner and his family as they navigated the Great Depression.

The stories resonated with me and the community I was raised in. Luckily, a Waltons marathon played Thanksgiving weekend.

Like “John Walton”, Daddy was not much of a church going man in his earlier years. He was a man of faith. We did not have “Ike Godsey’s Store.” We did have McFarland’s Store owned by Claude McFarland. It later became Marvin’s General Store owned by Marvin Thompson. We did not have “Walton’s Mountain Baptist Church.” We had Chalcedonia Baptist Church. Much like in the television program, we could walk to all three.

I have never hidden the fact that The Waltons has always been my favorite television program. It was about a simpler time when communities were family. To this day, Kathy Johnson still refers to me as “Chris Boy.” Mrs. Johnson is the mother to one of my best friends, Alan. Much like in The Waltons, the Johnsons were family. This meant Alan’s daddy, Herb, would have jerked a knot in me for getting out of line. Kathy would have sheltered me like my own Mama. I have so many memories of being in their beautiful home on Ivy Road.

A couple of years ago, I visited the real Walton’s Mountain in Schyler, Virginia. It is the homeplace of Earl Hamner. The school is now a museum for fans of “The Waltons.” The home Mr. Hamner grew up in is just a short walk from the school. I was accompanied on that day by two Virginia Belles. They could have easily been representatives of the Walton girls in the television program. Visiting this special place will forever be counted as one of the best days of my life. It was like stepping back in time. If I could have stayed there, I would have.

“The Waltons” was a spin-off from a book and movie written by Earl Hamner titled “The Homecoming.” This movie was when we were first introduced to the Walton family. Someone decided to do a remake of the movie which aired this year on Thanksgiving weekend.

Unfortunately, the remake did not capture the same magic as the original. This makes sense. We do not get do overs in life. We get what we get. The important thing is what we do with it.

My parents did not own a mountain. But our house did sit on top of a hill. I miss what will always be in my mind, the old home place. Most of the memories I have from my childhood are from that time and place we called home. Sometimes I still ride by there while remembering how good the house and property was to our family. It looks smaller than I remember. The pasture fence I helped Daddy build no longer has a look of sturdiness. In one episode of The Waltons, Grandpa Walton said something along these lines when talking about Walton’s Mountain, “No one can really own a mountain. We just hold it in trust until we die. It belongs to God.” This makes sense to me.

As a 59-year-old man, it still warms my heart every time Mrs. Johnson calls me Chris Boy. Her friendship has always been appreciated. To this day she still remembers the influence the show had on me. This speaks greatly to her character as a mother. She paid attention.

It is my hope to return some day to Schyler, Virginia and visit the Hamner homeplace again. There is more I want to see. If I do, there is no guarantee I will capture the same joy I did on my first trip. Those that accompanied me were significant to that special day. But with God, there is always hope. And fun. Goodnight my friends.

Chris Collett is a longtime resident of Cherokee County.

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