“Where in the world is Anaconda, Montana?” Mom asks me, peering over her reading glasses.
Do I look like an oracle?
“Wait…” She starts tapping away on the hand-held shiny thingy. Mumbles something about “Googling.”
“Looks like it’s in southwest Montana. Kind of near Butte.”
I have no clue what that means. Do you? Well, Mom’s smiling. She must be pleased with herself. So I’m pleased, too. Can you see my tail wagging?
“What’s up with Anaconda and Montana?” you ask. Well, ya, see, Mom just finished a book she’s been looking to re-read for a long, long time. Not a single library in our entire state carried it. She had to order it through Inter-Library Loan. I don’t what that means. Sounds like a hassle.
Anyway, her long-looked-for book finally showed up. From one of those book places in Anaconda, Montana. I still don’t know what that means. But Mom finished all 247 pages of that book in one day. So it must’ve been good.
What was it? Oh. You mean the title? Spencer’s Mountain. Published in 1961. By Earl Hamner, Jr. You know, The Waltons guy. Only in this book, it’s not Walton’s Mountain. It’s Spencer’s Mountain. The family patriarch is Clay Spencer. His oldest son is Clay-Boy. Not John. And not John Boy.
But Mom really loves this story about a large family growing up poor in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. They made a movie out of it in 1963. With somebody called Henry Fonda as Clay Spencer. And another someone called Maureen O’Hara as Olivia Spencer, the mom. Some guy name “James MacArthur” plays Clay Boy.
“The movie closely parallels the book,” observes Mom. Even including the Rockfish River, Hickory Creek, and Charlottesville. Of course, the names of all the children are different than in the TV Waltons. But that’s another story.
Speaking of stories, have you ordered your copy of Mom’s latest book? It’s a little bit like this Spencer thing: The Small Things: What ‘The Waltons’ Taught Me About Writing & More.
Find out more at Shushes, Small Things & Plain Vanilla.