Favorite shows inspired by books

I loved watching The Waltons on television when I was a child. It was one of the shows that my whole family enjoyed watching together. It was inspired by books written by Earl Hamner, including Spencer’s Mountain and The Homecoming. It was a series of stories about a family that lived in a rural Blue Ridge Mountain town of Virginia during the Great Depression and World War II during the late 1930s and early 1940s.

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I took my mother to visit the original house in Schuyler, Virginia the summer after my father died in 2010. The house was smaller and had less land attached to it than I expected. Ike Godsey’s store and a museum in an old schoolhouse were just down the road from the house. The view of the mountains in the background is reminiscent of scenes from the show, which were actually filmed in California. The trip helped my mother to grieve as she remembered some happy times of days gone by when she was growing up in Christiansburg, Virginia near Staunton. The Walton house was on the Warner Brothers set. It was used again for the Gilmore Girls series and became the Dragonfly Inn in Stars Hollow in season four around 2004. It was not a real house but there is a real town in Connecticut.

I loved to watch the Little House on the Prairie based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. These books regaled stories of a family living and surviving as pioneers in the rugged Midwest during the latter part of the 19th century. The show was set in Walnut Grove, near Plum Creek in Minnesota. It was focused on the time period between Laura’s childhood to adolescent years. The set of the reproduced town was built on a ranch in California and was destroyed during the last episode.

Laura wrote her books in Mansfield, Missouri. There are two houses there that are still standing and can be toured. The museum there contains a large collection of memorabilia. Pepin, Wisconsin is the location of Laura’s childhood home. There is a reconstructed cabin there on exhibit. This was the location for Little House in the Big Woods. Little House on the Prairie was partially written about her house in Independence, Kansas where another reconstructed log cabin can be toured. In Walnut Grove, Minnesota, Pa staked a claim. There is a dugout site there. The Ingalls family ended up in De Smet, South Dakota where there is a house and buildings built by Charles. One half of the prairie house stories were about this location.

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Roughly thirty-five years passed between the time periods of these two great book collections and television series. If you were to go forward from the time of The Waltons, you would end up in the late 1960s. My book series begins with my childhood during this time period. Each span of history must be retold so we won't forget what others have learned along the journey of life as times have changed.

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