Earl Hamner Jr.'s TV success came as his house began crumbling around him
Part of The Waltons creator's drive to make it in Hollywood was wanting to move out of a broken-down house. "We fought the house every day of our lives."
There comes a time in every boy’s life when he needs his own set of wheels.
When that time came for John-Boy in The Waltons episode "The Car," like most teen boys, the urgency of having a car became the sole focus of his life.
Luckily for John-Boy, a storm has hit the mountain, and a neighbor with a good car offers to trade the vehicle if John-Boy will help repair his roof. The car has sentimental value to the neighbor, but he needs the roof repairs more.
The Waltons creator Earl Hamner, Jr. knew something about living in a home badly in need of repairs.
While he was first trying to make it as a writer, he moved his family into what his wife Jane called "the sod hut," a house so small, it barely fit their couch.
"There was barely enough room for anything else," Hamner wrote in his memoir The Avocado Drive Zoo.
This house was meant to be temporary, and in a way, living in it motivated Hamner to succeed, just so they could finally move out.
"We fought the house every day of our lives," Hamner said.
Similar to The Waltons’ neighbor coping with stormy weather without a roof, Hamner and his wife would spend every rainy day filling buckets and rushing to replace them.
He claimed the walls were so weak that simply walking down the hallway with too heavy a step would cause them to collapse.
And the ceiling would crumble over their dinner table at night.
What saved the young writer from spending another day in that little broken-down house was walking into an opportunity to write for The Twilight Zone.
Hamner, in his desperation to find work and relocate his family, remembered once meeting Rod Serling and so he sent The Twilight Zone creator some scripts and never expected to hear back.
In the end, Serling bought all three scripts Hamner sent, launching The Waltons creator’s TV writing career and moving him out of "the sod house" for good.
In The Waltons episode "The Car," John-Boy ends up getting the car that he wants and taking his whole family for a drive, a satisfying ending for anyone who ever wasted a second as a teen pining for their first set of wheels.
For Hamner, when he was living in "the sod house," sometimes the earth beneath the house would shift so that the garage door would get stuck and the Hamner family car would just be unavailable that day.
Here’s hoping the day that Hamner moved out, the garage door opened, and he took his whole family on a ride away from that crumbling house, which sounds like it may have been just as joyful as John-Boy’s.