a sudden storm put the power out in Charlottesville
sent us on our way, no UVA and no Monticello either.
We left town for another famous American’s home,
winding roads, backwoods, the Blue Ridge Mountains,
we planned this trip as we watched “Season One”.
Won’t be what you seen as a boy on Thursday nights.
You’ll come upon a factory, never heard about that.
You’ll find the house close to the road, only a few yards
from the church, it’s real small and makes you wonder-
How’d they all fit and get along in such a tiny place?
There’s a gift shop modeled after John-Boy’s shed.
The man who bought the family home spends days
shipping books and DVDs to his online customers.
Told us about Earl Hamner’s last visit and how Audrey
stops by now and then. $10 will get you a quick tour.
Down the road is a school, nothing like the one on TV.
A spacious brick building, high ceilings and tall windows
turned into a museum, run by locals to honor the show
and the family who lived here during the Depression.
Each room recreates a scene with props and furniture.
And when I saw it all, I wanted to sneak past
the red velvet ropes and chrome stanchions.
I wanted to hear the Fireside Chat on the radio.
I wanted to sit at the long dining room table and
have black coffee and Olivia’s applesauce cake.
I wanted to write a journal entry at John- Boy’s desk.
I wanted to smell the sawdust from Daddy’s sawmill.
I wanted to go fishing with Jim Bob, Ben and Jason.
I wanted to help Elizabeth feed Reckless and Chance.
I wanted to listen to Grandpa’s stories on the porch.
I wanted to go to swimming with Mary Ellen and Erin.
But they weren’t there and never were. Yes, finally I
understood- it was just a show, based on a writer’s family.
Even the names were different, James, Paul, and Nancy.
It was then that I realized how the family I knew and loved
were characters played by actors in California in the 1970’s.
A short drive brings you to a new store built on the site of
Ike Godsey’s place that had burned down. And of course-
he’s not there, just two ladies organizing packs of cigarettes.
They made us hot dogs on the grill. We ate at a picnic table
and compared the real family story with the fictional family.
And at the age of Forty two it gave me the same feeling as I’d
had when I found out about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
We took 64 West to 81 South and after a few hours we stopped
for the night to rest and as the lights went out, we both knew
we just had to say it to each other- “Goodnight John-Boy”.