Good Night “John Boy”-A Tribute to Earl Hamner


I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I found out last night that the man who inspired me to write, and was a great influence on my early years, passed away last March. Earl Hamner, created the Waltons TV series based on his adolescent years in  the Virginia mountains.


In the Series “The Waltons.” Richard Thomas, pictured here, played the role of John Boy, based on the life of Earl Hamner. This picture is very familiar to me, as I remember watching John Boy writing his journal every night, and then Earl Hamner moderating the end of each episode, as he would wrap up the story about his family for that night, giving the impression he got a lot of his recollections from his journals.

This inspired me to keep my own journal as well. I wrote every night from when I was 13 till about when I was 16. After four years I quit, as I realized my life was just not as exciting as Earl Hamner’s. Was that ever a mistake! Now I look back at my journals and learn so much about myself. I see things in my writings that I could not see while things were actually taking place. For example I wrote on a particular Wednesday, “I told “Jennifer” she was a little stuck up at school today.” Then I wrote the following Saturday. “I preached my first sermon tonight at vespers. “Jennifer” was not there. I wonder why?” Duh! I can see why now. Just look back at Wednesday! I could not see at the time how my attitude and behavior was affecting the way people treated me, but now it is very clear when I read the things that I wrote. That is just one little example of how valuable my journal has been to me in helping me discover myself.

I had a journal and also wrote poetry. I was so love sick when I wrote those poems about a particular girl. I gave her the poems but kept copies, and now I look back and just laugh at myself for being so hopelessly romantic and pathetic! But I don’t throw them away because they are good for laughs.

I kept writing through the years even though I stopped keeping my journal. When I first moved from Oklahoma to Texas I did not know a lot of people at first. I would go to restaurants by myself, and bring a pad of paper and pen and write letters back home while I enjoyed my meal. Soon enough I made lots of friends and of course went out to eat with them, and the letter writing stopped. About ten years later, I found myself stopped at a red light, looking over at a restaurant where I used to write my letters. I thought to myself, “I miss going to restaurants by myself and writing letters back home.”  So a couple of days later, I went back to that restaurant, just myself and my tablet and enjoyed a nostalgic evening of letter writing. I have even done that a handful of times since moving to Florida. Now I have my blog and my Facebook account to record things, but I think there is something therapeutic about actually writing your thoughts and feelings out instead of just typing or texting. I have a journal again now, which I do write in on occasions and but nearly as often enough.

I was surprised when I learned a couple of years ago that Earl Hamner wrote a few of the Twilight Zone programs. Once again it inspired me to write a couple of my own Willight Zone short stories. 

Earl Hamner had a passion for writing and I caught his passion. I love preaching but as the Internet has evolved and I started my own blog, and am currently writing and moderating for the Sabbath School Network , I believe I love writing more than I love public speaking, or at least just as much.

The Waltons was a simple show, but it brought simple people to life and showed us how important simple everyday people are to our lives. On the Waltons grandparents, parents and siblings were always the heroes. And that’s the way its supposed to be. Every episode ended with the entire family telling each other goodnight. Once again we saw how important family is and the everyday people in our lives. So one last time, “Goodnight John Boy. See you resurrection morning.”




One Comment

  1. Beautiful article William. I can relate because I have always liked to write, and did write some journals for a few years during some very interesting travels. Because I felt no one was interested, I threw those journals out into a dumpster. There are a few other journals around that I have written. It is my hope that my final career will be writing of various sorts, so I am looking forward to the possibility.
    Thank you for your blog and other writings that leave us encouraged.


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