Saturday, March 03, 2007

BOOKS: Things I Learned on Walton Mountain

Hey there! It's my birthday! I'm 37, but shhh... don't tell anyone. I'm planning to throw in my hat for Miss Canada this year, and I understand there are some age-ist hurdles I need to thwart.

I was remembering birthdays past, and I recalled that it was on my birthday in the year 1978 that I read my very first chapter book, which was a pretty big deal at the time. It was a novel from The Waltons series (I bet you didn't know there was a book tie-in to the TV show), called The Accident, and I devoured it over and over again. I can't remember if this is because it was such a great book, or if I didn't have any other books, or if I was just so relieved not to be dealing with baby books any more, because, HELLO, I'M EIGHT NOW. Someday I'm going to get my period and a job and a mortgage. TIME TO GROW UP.

I can still tell you the plot from memory, which is pretty sad considering I couldn't even tell you the names of the main characters from the book I'm reading right now.

It's haying season, and the entire family pitches in to help. The youngest daughter, Elizabeth, has just been sprayed by a skunk, to the amusement of everyone. There is much discussion of the best way to de-stinkify her. Milk or tomato juice? Milk works better, but tomato juice is cheaper and more plentiful. Tomato juice it is then. After the tomato juice bath, one of the older boys -- Ben, perhaps? Jason? Was there a Jason? -- makes fun of her, calling her a "ragamuffin." What the heck is a ragamuffin? Elizabeth gets upset. Pa jumps off the hay wagon to console her, and he lands foot-first on a pitchfork, causing the brutally sharp tines to pierce his shoe and impale his foot. He's taken to the hospital, treated, and sent home. At home, his condition worsens. He returns to the hospital. The foot is badly infected. Gangrene sets in. The family worries, each in his or her own way. Despite his own worry, Grandpa does silly things to make them feel better. Grandma calls him an old fool, her gruffness hiding her love and concern. Awww... isn't that just like her? The gangrene worsens. Amputation is discussed. Everyone worries some more. The younger kids are worried Pa will die. The older folks know that, even if Pa survives, the farm and the sawmill are in trouble, as he's the onle able-bodied full-grown male around to run the place. The entire family's future is at stake. As the oldest son, John Boy feels he should step up to the plate, but he isn't sure how. Despite his anxiety, he still can't help catching the eye of a pretty young nurse, Fairlee Somethingorother. Flirtation ensues. Everyone worries some more. And then! A miraculous recovery! The family is whole and together again, safe on Walton Mountain.

Good-night, John Boy!

13 comments:

Quillhill said...

Have a happy ragamuffin birthday, Tammy!

David said...

Happy birthday.

Does one thwart a hurdle? I thought you had to leap over them.

Signed, Nitpicking R Us

lj said...

Happy birthday! (Sorry it's a little late.)

Lisa Jean said...

Happy Birthday!

I used to love the Waltons. I read Spencer's Mountian a couple of times--of course it wasn't my first chapter book. That was Mrs. Piggle Wiggle if my memory is right.

Karen said...

Happy Birthday, you young thing you!

tuckova said...

Happy birthday!

I remember my first "grown up" book, which I read aloud in alternating chapters with my mother, was Watership Down. I would not remember not a scraplet of the plot if I hadn't re-read it as an adult, but I definitely remember the feeling of being terribly adult, reading (albeit with a lot of help) a book with no pictures at all, not even at the beginning of the chapter, and such tiny font! It was really exciting. I remember that now, reading about your experience.

Tabloidman said...

My first chapter book was The Hobbit, which I read in Grade 1. I can remember seeing the dragon on the cover and being so enraptured by it that I just knew I had to read it, even if it did seem like it had, like, a zillion pages and there were only a few badly-drawn pictures scattered throughout. My teacher and the school librarian both tried to talk me out of reading it, but I was determined and kept renewing and renewing it until I was done. I loved the Gollum chapter, and particularly fancied the magic invisibility ring and wished I had one for myself. I even made one out of string and made my best friend pretend he couldn't see me whenever it was on my finger.

Oh, little did innocent old me know all the kafuffle that silly ring would cause when I finally returned to Tolkienland in Grade 11....

Exxie said...

Happy Birthday, kid!

Em said...

Happy belated day!

I can remember my first big-kid book like one might remember a dream...I can vaguely see the cover in my head, can't recall what happened, exactly. Might have involved jump rope and a green sweater.
I *think* it might have been titled Old Friends, New Friends, but I get the feeling that was more of a picture-book.
I might have just woken up one day and decided to read chapter books, I don't know.

Sandy D. said...

Happy birthday! In case you're ever sprayed by a skunk, you might like to know that a cup of baking soda mixed with a quart of hydrogen peroxide and a couple squirts of shampoo works *much* better than either milk or tomato juice. Signed, a twice-skunked-dog owner.

Doppelganger said...

Thanks, everybody! You've warmed the cockles of my old, no-doubt-artery-clogged heart.

David, yeah, that looked wrong to me, too, but I really wanted to write it that way. And since it was my birthday, I gave myself grammatical immunity for the day.

Sandy D., thanks for the tip! (50books.com: Come for the books, stay for the household tips!) Though why do I now have the feeling that I'll need to use it some day?

Jane said...

I wish you an (inexcusably belated) happy birthday!

BabelBabe said...

Good night, Jim Bob!
And happy very belated birthday!