Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Earl Hamner, Jr., at Hollins

But we are the sum of all the moments in our lives—
all that is ours is in them: we cannot escape or conceal it.

—Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward Angel),
as quoted by Earl Hamner, Jr., in Generous Women

Last Thursday night, my kid-lit crit group partner Amy Tate and I ventured to Hollins University to hear Earl Hamner, Jr. read from his book, Generous Women. I’d read his first book, Spencer’s Mountain, long ago, so I’ve been a Hamner fan for several decades.

Some of the books by Earl Hamner, Jr.

Hamner, of course, is best known for The Waltons, the long-running 1970s TV series that was set in rural Virginia during the depression. His voice-over narration opened and closed every episode. In fact, his hometown—Schuyler, Virginia, is less than a hundred miles from where I live. Whenever I go up Route 29 to Charlottesville, I see the sign for Schuyler. But I’m digressing.

I cut a Franklin County Library Board of Trustees meeting, a Valley Writers Club meeting, and the televised Palin-Biden debate to see him. Hearing Earl Hamner read, in his genteel Virginia voice, was worth it. His voice sounded exactly the way it did when he narrated The Waltons.

His 2006 book, Generous Women, pays tribute to many of the women who influenced him during his lifetime. Here’s part of the prologue, which he read:

Each of our lives is the result of a myriad of encounters with an astonishing variety of our fellow human beings. Each of our days is comprised of endless event, some of such little import that we forget them immediately. Others are of monumental sadness or cause for elation. Much of the time we can choose these events by selecting where we want to be at a given moment or the company we keep, an ambition, a failure or victory, some path we take; but just as often we are exposed to events over which we have no control. (Generous Women, pp.13-14)

Later, he mentions, “The greater influences on our lives are felt when a person does something that has a permanent effect on us that changes our lives for better or for worse.” Generous Women chronicles the women who had a positive effect on him.

On Thursday night, he read—or just talked—about several of the women who influenced him—Ellen Corby (“Grandma Walton”), Elsie May Gusmerotti (a high school teacher), Tallulah Bankhead, Minnie Pearl, and his wife and daughter.

I’m glad I chose to attend his reading. It’s a moment in my life that I won’t soon forget. I look forward to reading his book.

Here I am with Hamner and Amy.




Blogger Amy Hanek said...

It looks like you both had so much fun. I'm so glad!

4:18 PM  
Blogger Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

Like I told Amy, next time you girls better get the whip out and make me go! Have you been to Schuyler? I've been there twice. And then when I discovered there was a real Charlottesville! I should have come...

10:44 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

We keep telling you that you should go to these things! Maybe now you will believe us. I've never stopped in Schuyler, but I go to Festival of the book in Charlottesville every March. You should go to that, too.

11:31 PM  
Blogger Amy Tate said...

That was just too much fun!

12:18 PM  

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