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!