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F as in Frank

The world according to John Boy

For most of the 1970s my folks didn't have a television. Wasn't that we couldn't afford one, just that my Dad as a new convert to Christ threw out the TV and even the Christmas tree for awhile.

As a kid, there were lots of TV shows that I'd hear people talk about, but I was clueless.

One of those shows was The Waltons.

I'd heard about the show, even happened to catch a few snippets from time to time when we'd visit others. But it wasn't until a few months ago when the Hallmark Channel started showing it that I really got a chance to watch The Waltons.

Joni and I are hooked. We tape the shows when they come on early in the morning. We've now got a catalog of back episodes that we watch from time to time and get caught up in the homespun and sometimes difficult family life of the 1930s depression.

I can also relate to some of the rural life up on Walton's Mountain, as my father's family hails from hill country in backwoods Kentucky. They go so far back that there's even a place named for the Fannin's. It's a fork in a river or a fork in the road, don't remember which, and it's called Fannin's Fork.

But I digress-it's my birthday today, so I guess I'm allowed one detour-catching up with the Waltons has been an education, especially with the character of John Boy.

We're now in the part of the series where John Boy is a reporter.

Another time he took a turn as a pastor, bringing the Sunday sermon on Walton's Mountain.

I noted the similarities in my own life, and was reminded of some important lessons:

1. Don't ever, ever compromise when it comes to ethics, as John Boy learned when he and his paper nearly got caught up in receiving funds and services from a politician in exchange for positive news coverage.

2. Stay true to your family, even when you disagree sometimes. That's a given on nearly episode of The Waltons. In a family of 11 people there are bound to be conflicts.

3. Tell the truth in love. Grandma wanted John Boy in his sermon to let the parishioners have it with both barrels full of hail, fire and brimstone. He ended up with a persuasive talk just the same, but using much more gentle words.

Yes, The Waltons is a fictional TV series. But in a day and age when the Simpsons seemingly represent high culture on TV, I can't help but embrace the Waltons' story and what I suspect are some scripts based to a certain extent on the show's creator's own youth.

I missed out on the Waltons as a youth, but thanks to reruns I get to catch up on the world according to John Boy.

What a world it was.

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