‘The Waltons’ Star Judy Norton Opens Up About Importance of Picnics on the Show

by Lauren Boisvert
(Image by Bettman/Getty Images)

In a new behind-the-scenes segment on her YouTube channel, Judy Norton shared her experiences with picnics on “The Waltons”, and why they were so important.

In this segment, Norton explored the episode “The Roots”. In the episode, the Waltons meet Harley and Jody, a father and son who move around from town to town. The Waltons’ friend Verdie has a crush on Harley, and wants John-Boy to play matchmaker for her. Eventually, Verdie invites Harley on a picnic in the front yard at the Waltons’ place.

So, what’s so special about picnics anyway? Judy Norton explains them as “a way to further romance.” She said that the scene between Verdie and Harley “reminded me of scenes that I had, when Mary Ellen has a picnic with Eddie Ramirez in the episode ‘The Medal’, and when she has a picnic with Jonesy, in the episode ‘The Whirlwind’.”

Nothing comes of her romance with Eddie Ramirez, as he goes back to the paratroopers during the war. But, Mary Ellen does marry Jonesy in the 1982 TV movie “Mother’s Day on Walton Mountain”. They have two kids together, Matthew and Katie.

Picnics are great for representing blossoming romance because they represent a sort of idyllic, pastoral scene. There’s nothing more romantic than spreading a blanket on the ground and sharing food with someone you love. There’s a base instinct involved with sitting on the ground and eating food mostly with your hands; it’s an innocent gesture, an organic experience. So is love. So, it makes sense that “The Waltons” would use picnics to represent new love and a growing romance.

‘The Waltons’: Judy Norton Talks About Dangerous Truck Stunt

In the same video on “The Roots”, Judy Norton also shared a scene where all the kids piled precariously into the back of the family truck. John-Boy and the rest of the Waltons were giving their friend Verdie a ride home. Norton describes the situation in detail.

“I am sitting up leaning against the back of the truck cab and literally had one foot over the side of the truck with my foot resting on the running board,” she said. “Clearly, there was no concern about any danger with the truck riding along like that. However, usually, we weren’t going very fast, so it was actually pretty safe. But there were no additional safety precautions ever taken in that truck when we’re all sitting in the back.”

She went on to explain that they always held onto the littler co-stars, like Kami Cotler, who was 7 when she started on “The Waltons” as youngest child Elizabeth. They did that “just to make sure that nobody fell out,” said Norton. Don’t try this at home, kids, this is the 70s.