If you were lucky to grow up in an area where a stream, a river, or a lake made fishing readily available, chances are you did just that. And chances are, you went fishing with a close family member. This was the case for “The Waltons” creator Earl Hamner, Jr.
The family member who took the young Earl fishing was his father, Earl Hamner, Sr. And, according to MeTV, it was during their trips out with their fishing poles that the two men bonded. It turns out that their fishing trips really helped this father and son duo learn to understand one another.
At first, “The Waltons” creator and his father didn’t always see eye-to-eye. The older Earl was confused by the interests his son had. The younger Earl discussed their relationship in his 1999 memoir. “The Avocado Drive Zoo.”
“My father and I had some reservations about each other: I was an odd child with a vivid imagination. He found my imagination discomforting. It made him uneasy to see me pulling a small wooden wagon that to my mind was filled with eleven black and white English setter puppies,” Earl Jr. wrote.
Fortunately for the Hamner men, they both loved to fish. They would go out to a secret location that Earl Sr. liked. While they fished, Earl Jr. would work on baiting lines. They fished for catfish and bass.
‘The Waltons’ Creator Listened As His Father Shared Stories While They Fished
In addition to trying to catch fish, the two men also shared something else – stories. Well, Earl Sr. told stories. He especially liked telling his tales after he had had some beer. The future creator of “The Waltons” listened. Hearing his father’s stories was the best part of the fishing trips for the future storyteller.
“We almost forgot about the fishing as he went on a storytelling binge. One story followed another, stories of his exploits as a hunter and fisherman. He told stories of the poverty he had known as a boy, of a rattlesnake ‘as big around as a lumberjack’s leg’ he had killed and of the mysteries that still lurked back in the mountains,” Earl Jr. said.
Earl Sr. didn’t just tell stories to his son. He also shared them with his grandson – Earl Jr.’s boy. These tales might best be described more like tall tales.
“I knew he was boasting and showing off to endear himself to my son, and I loved him for that, but I suspected there wasn’t a shred of truth in what he said,” Earl Jr. once shared.
Earl Sr. left an impression on his son. The creator of “The Waltons” used him as an influence for some of the characters in his work. For example, Earl Sr. inspired some of the qualities of John Walton.
Earl Sr. lived long enough to see his son have success. He even saw the character based on him appear in “Spencer’s Mountain” in 1963 and “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” in 1971. Sadly, he did not live long enough to see “The Waltons” series.
“My father did live to see himself portrayed by Henry Fonda and Andy Duggan, but he did not live long enough to see Ralph Waite’s memorable portrayal of him on ‘The Waltons,'” Earl Hamner Jr. also said.