Hi everyone,

Well today is Earl Hamner's birthday (here at least, and probably over there too by the time I send this letter out). I'm sure that he knows we will be thinking of him.

Thanks to everyone who sent in letters this week. Things have been a bit slow mail wise and it's nice when lots come in suddenly. Welcome to our new members. We still have people joining from time to time. I should have a count up again soon. So far, I'm pleased to say, that we've only had a couple of people who have asked to be taken off the list, and one that I've removed myself. If you have any suggestions for things you would like to see added to the mailing, please let me know. After all it's really your list. You make it happen. I just put it together. :-)
Till next time, Karen.

From Marilynn:

About the second John Boy: Personally, he really didn't bother me. He was/is cuter than Richard Thomas. Sorry, but it is true. The important thing to me is that, like real life, the series continued.

John Boy's cane: I believe John-Boy's walking around with a cane was written off to his having been riding, rather recklessly...according to Olivia, on Ike Godsey's motorcycle. You can check with Ralph; but I believe the real reason for the cane was that Richard Thomas actually broke his ankle off the set and that fact had to be accounted for in the scripts.

New comment from Cleveland, Ohio: Yesterday I watched the episode, Day of Infamy, regarding Pearl Harbor and it still gets to me. What does bother me is the episode later on that has Curt coming out of some kind of amnesia and living in Florida. Talk about divine incarnation! In this episode I refer to, Mary Ellen got the news that Curt has been killed. The emotion is so high in that show. I don't believe Ralph Waite had to do much acting reading that letter from Curt to John Curtis.

The writers should get credit for capturing the spirit, hurt, dismay I am sure that was felt wherever in the world anyone got the news. Good work...guys/gals!

KAREN'S COMMENT: Thanks for your replies Marilynn. Personally I think that Richard Thomas was rather cute, perhaps more so than the second, but of course everyone will have different opinions on that. :-)) Now that you mention it, I think I recall too, that it was explained as a motorcycle accident.

I also love the episode you mentioned, Day of Infamy, and I have to say that the one which seems least liked by fans is the one where Mary Ellen discovers that Curt is really alive. Several people have said to me that it seems out of character for him not to have any feelings of obligation toward Mary Ellen and John Curtis, and also out of character for Mary Ellen to give him up without much of a fight.

From Shirley:

With regard to Kim's question about John Boy and the cane, in the episode called "The First Edition", it is learned that he injured his leg from a motorcycle accident. I never heard if he really injured his leg, or if it was for the show. I recall the episode when Elizabeth injured both her legs and was unable to walk for a while.

Right now I have my fingers crossed in hopes that the Family Channel here in Canada will start showing the Waltons. Thank goodness we do get the specials. I have a question for you all. In the scenes where the family are all sitting around the table eating, do they really eat the food?
I know all to well the feeling of the smell of coffee and bacon cooking on a cold winter morning, the taste of biscuits with fresh butter, I grew up with these feelings plus there was a family of seven children. We didn't live on a Walton's Mountain, but a place called South Mountain. My Mother lived next to a place called Walton in Nova Scotia. Good night Karen girl. Happy 74th Birthday Earl Hamner July 10th, 1997

KAREN'S COMMENT: Yes Happy Birthday to Earl! What an interesting question Shirley. I wonder if the food was heated up before each take? It would be awful to have to act as if you were having a wonderful dinner when it was cold. :-) I think they probably did have some real food as we seem to see some of the family eating at their table.

From Jane:

I remember Olivia saying something about a motorcycle accident with John-Boy in it, but, I don't think they showed such a episode. Richard Thomas must have got hurt in real life and they had to come up with something for the show. When Jim Bob was on a motorcycle (for a race I think) Olivia mentioned her fear of motorcycles.

KAREN'S COMMENT: Yes John Boy was using the cane for a few weeks wasn't he? I must have a look back through my episodes for that season and check on it.

From Kim:

Who is older…Mary Ellen, Erin or Ben?: I think the order the children come in is: John-Boy, Jason, Mary-Ellen, Ben, Erin, Jim-Bob, Elizabeth. I believe Ben is older than Erin because in the episode where Mary-Ellen goes off to nursing school, John is making a suitcase for her together with the boys. At one point, Ben says something about being next in line to go to college after John-Boy, Jason and Mary-Ellen. That's why I assume he's older than Erin. But I can be wrong of course.

Also, do you know what Ben and Erin want to become in life? John-Boy wants to be a writer, Jason a musician, ME a nurse, Jim-Bob a pilot but I have no idea about Ben and Erin.

KAREN'S COMMENT: Well there's one opinion from Kim and below there's a different one from Marie. Read on:

From Marie:

Who is older…Mary Ellen, Erin or Ben?: About the birth order of the Walton children: The credits list Mary Ellen, Jason, Erin, Ben, Jim-Bob, and Elizabeth in that order until the seventh season. Then Jason and Mary Ellen switch. I wonder why? When Mary Ellen goes to nursing school in The Nurse (fourth season), Jason already has made his decision to study music in The Choice ( third season). Erin graduates in The Career Girl (fifth season). The Go-Getter, which ran six episodes after The Career Girl in the same season, is set in the spring of 1938. Ben quits working for John Boy and The Blue Ridge Chronicles. He gets a job selling cars at Jarvis'. Is he out of school? I don't remember his graduation though in The Move Ben tells his father-in-law that he was third in his class (but there were only six in it). This isn't much help. Maybe Ralph can put it to rest?

Referring back to Digest 23, I didn't know Richard Thomas' middle name was Earl. Ralph has a very interesting article on his web page called "The Two John-Boys - Earl Hamner and Richard Thomas." Does anyone know Ike Godsey's middle name? I heard it in The Furlough. His full name is Isaac Aloysius Godsey and he was born September 24, 1901. Aloysius is pronounced al - ah - WISH - iss.

Thanks, Arthur, for the article written by Joseph N. Bell in 1974. We can never read enough about the Waltons!

KAREN'S COMMENT: Well there you have it. I had always thought that Ben was older than Erin too, so I agree with Kim. Do we ever see or hear about Ben graduating? It just seems as though he leaves school and goes to work. He always seemed to want to be a business man. Kim, have you see The Career Girl yet when Erin graduates? You'll see in that episode that nobody seems to have any idea what Erin wants to do with her life. Marie, maybe Ben was working part time for the people you mention, or perhaps as a summer job. Who knows? Interesting point about the credits though!

From Julie:

I remember a few weeks back you asked us all to report in on some of our favorite guest appearances on the show. One of mine was on "The Beau," it was the gentleman who played Marcus Dane, and old beau of Esther's who lost her to Zeb way back when, and who came back to the mountain to visit her after he was widowed and after Zeb died. I enjoyed the portrayal, but didn't know the actor's name. Well, it was just shown again the other day, and I caught the actor's name...Arthur Space. Don't know if anybody really cares or not, just thought I would mention it!

Karen, I don't mind the second John Boy too much. I prefer Richard Thomas, but, like you say, it certainly must be hard to step into a role created someone else, especially a very popular portrayal. I thought he did all right.

KAREN'S COMMENT: I have never heard of Arthur Space. I'll have to look at the Internet Movie Database and see if they have a listing for him. One thing I like about The Waltons is that a lot of the guest actors do not seem to be very well known actors. Speaking of guest actors has anyone noticed before that Wilford Brimley pops up quite a bit on the show as one of the neighbors, but at that time must have been known as A. Wilford Brimley. Wonder what the A. stands for?

From Arthur:

Here's the second bit from the BBC's Radio Times of 14 February 1974. It's written by Philip Jenkinson a film reviewer of the time.

"Judging the right mood or humor for release timing can be a tricky business; no-one believed the honest-to-God sincerity of The Waltons could survive in such an essentially cynical age, but the timing happened to be just right. In fact this prize-winning (six Emmys) series has actually inspired another TV serial just premiered in the States, The Little House on the Prairie!

The Waltons genealogical tree is rather fascinating; it is based on a single autobiographical novel by Earl Hamner Jr. called Spenser's Mountain. In 1963 it was made into a motion picture of the same name, starring Henry Fonda, and was generally well-liked. Strangely, it was not this movie that actually sparked off the TV series, but a made-for-TV movie called The Homecoming, also based on Earl Hamner's famous story. The risk - as one television producer put it - was "that it was just another Beverly Hillbillies without the cracker-barrel charm and corn". However the cynics were dumbfounded - perhaps not surprisingly when one recalls that six of the longest running TV series in the States were based on "family" movies: I Remember Mama, Life With Father, Father of the Bride, Gidget, The Farmer's Daughter, and Blondie."

(Philip Jenkinson, 1974).

Next time, the first of two "where are they now" pieces.

KAREN'S COMMENT: Thank you once again for the article Arthur. If anyone else has any articles that they would like to add to the list, please send them. Even if they are old they make interesting reading. I'm really glad that the "cynics" were proved so wrong. Goodnight everyone.