A Conversation for Peer Review

A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 1

Dmitri Gheorgheni

Entry: Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden - A87916918
Author: Dmitri Gheorgheni - U1590784

In this account of the life of a very colourful man, I have stepped carefully through several minefields, sticking only to what can be documented. (And thus leaving out the fact that 'everybody knows' that Ellen Corby was a lesbian. She might have been, but I have no documentation. Besides, she's not the subject of the entry.)

Will Geer was an exuberant soul. He was also part of important cultural movements in this country. I thought he deserved a page in the Guide.

If nothing else, this will make you look at 'The Waltons' differently. As will realising that the ur-Walton, Earl Hamner, Jr, wrote eight episodes of 'The Twilight Zone'....

smiley - dragon


A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 2

Florida Sailor Back From Havana, Cuba

smiley - applause
Thank you for a great Entry about the most memorable person I have ever met. You may remember my Post Article A87803841 It was on this occasion I met Will Geer.

I remember that he was being interviewed by a young woman, about my age, from the LA Times, between shots. At one point he asked her way she was taking with an old man when she could be with someone her own age, and he pointed at mesmiley - biggrin We were both suitably embarrassedsmiley - blush

One small correction, the Walton's were not farmers - they ran a lumber mil harvesting the trees from the mountain. In some episodes Grandpa suggested which trees should be harvested.

I will read this again, so far I have only followed the award link.

F smiley - dolphin S


A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 3

Dmitri Gheorgheni

I stand by my claim that they're farmers - there's plenty of farming going on. But I will add the detail about what John Walton calls a 'jitney lumber mill'. smiley - laugh

My great-grandfather worked at a lumber mill, too - but they were all subsistence farmers in the hills.

I'll bet it was a grand occasion, though, to meet Will Geer. He seems to have been an amazing person.


A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 4

SashaQ - happysad

This is a great summary of fascinating life and times indeed - you vividly convey the flavour of his many interests smiley - applausesmiley - biggrin

Salute to FS - thank you for sharing your experience! A grand occasion indeed!

I remember The Waltons being on TV, but unfortunately it wasn't to my taste as a child, being too 'sweet' indeed - it was one of those programmes that reminded me I was bored on a Sunday afternoon and needed to find something better to do than watch TV... Interesting to learn more about 'behind the scenes' and the 'wide net of helpfulness' that I hadn't appreciated, though smiley - ok


A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 5

Dmitri Gheorgheni

Thanks, Sasha! smiley - smiley

I never watched 'The Waltons' when it was first on - too busy at uni - but when I did see it once, I shared your take on it. (And Ellen Corby's.) In addition, I thought their circumstances were too sunny for the Depression, because I'd heard all the family stories. I didn't want anyone cheapening their experience.

The Waltons' house was too nice, in my opinion. It was painted....where were the barns that said 'Chew Mailpouch Tobacco'? And the plant life was all wrong....that was not the Appalachian mountains. I knew those mountains and their biodiversity....smiley - winkeye It was a problem of too much subject-matter expertise.

Recently, 'The Waltons' showed up on Amazon Prime, so I've been watching it. And being fascinated by the acting, the subtext, and the stories of the participants....lots to learn here. smiley - laugh


A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 6

Florida Sailor Back From Havana, Cuba

I was reluctant to write my post here because it was just a fortunate chance that came my way, but it is not often you read a Peer Review Entry about someone you have spoken to and shook their hand.

I just watched the 'Tony Awards' link and this followed on my YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wky5XWDFrmA featuring Joe Conley This is getting to be an emotional journey.

To get back to the subject - Will Geer was a great and famous man. When he was in a room you could not help but notice he was there. (remember I met him on a set filled with some of the most famous actors of the day.)

He seemed more intent on making everyone around him feel important (even myself, a stranger) than expecting any glory for himself. This explains several of the quotes given in the Entry,

Watching them act live, they exhibited far more passion and acting skill than ever came through the camera, I don't know if I can explain this clearly.

As for being a 'happy' view of the Great Depression' there are certainly places where scrimping for money is indicated, but I think a lot of it was that a loving family was far more important than money,

Yes I agree the farm fed the family, but the lumber paid the bills, like taxessmiley - smiley

F smiley - dolphin S


A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 7

Tavaron da Quirm - Arts Editor

smiley - smiley a very intersting Entry. I never watched the Waltons myself, it was before my time, so I didn't know anything about Geer yet.


A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 8

Dmitri Gheorgheni

Thanks, Tav. Personally, I was more fascinated by Geer's association with both Marc Blitzstein and Woody Guthrie. But then, I love those guys... smiley - winkeye

I'm enjoying 'The Waltons'. And Florida Sailor, I think I know what you mean about there being more passion there than could be captured in a camera....thanks for sharing your experiences! Amazing what we can come up with once we get started on a topic. There may be more passion in PR than in the Guide Entries, too....smiley - winkeye

I agree - outside jobs, like the one John took in the story we watched last night, at a shipyard in Norfolk, and home industry like lumber production or a five-acre cash crop, or even handcrafts, were what people did to pay taxes and mortgages. My dad, his father, and his brothers used to cut timber for a dollar a day for the same reason. They also grew tobacco. Even the smaller children helped by de-worming the tobacco field. (There are funny stories.)

Back in the Sixties, a film came out called 'Summer of '42'. The tagline was, 'Where were you in the summer of '42?'

I couldn't help it. I asked my dad, who was 16 that year.

'Pluckin' chickens in Detroit,' was his answer. (He paid off a family debt with his earnings.)

Gack....that might make a good Create theme....smiley - eureka


A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 9

Florida Sailor Back From Havana, Cuba

Let me make just one or two more comments here;

>Corby suffered a stroke. This was written into the story; she eventually returned to the show. By that time, however, Will Geer had passed on. He died on 22 April, 1978

I am certain that Will Geer was still around for Ellen Corby's return for at least an episode or two. I remember at least one distinctly about when she first got back home. I could go into detailsmiley - shrug

>The Waltons' house was too nice, in my opinion. It was painted....where were the barns that said 'Chew Mailpouch Tobacco'? And the plant life was all wrong....that was not the Appalachian mountains.

The reason the house was so nice is that they had built it themselves. The paint (or more probably white-wash) was a sign of pride and trying to preserve the wood.

Do you know how far up in the Blue Ridge the mountain was? They talk about Rockfish as the nearest town of any size. It is a real place that you can look up on a map. I doubt Mailpouch or Rock City would pay to paint a barn that only a half -dozen cars might pass in a month (most of them totally lost). I have passed the exit to Rockfish on the Interstate, but I was not driving so I could not visit at the time.

Yes, I have already agreed that the landscape was the Sierras.

F smiley - dolphin S


A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 10

Florida Sailor Back From Havana, Cuba

On further research, Will Geer was definitely a part of 'Grandma Comes Home' possibly one of the most poignant episodes of the series, and it was Will Geer at his finest. Unfortunately it was also his last appearance before his death.

F smiley - dolphin S


A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 11

minorvogonpoet

This is very interesting and certainly gives the impression that Geer lived life generously and influenced many people.smiley - smiley

There are a great many names and organisations mentioned. One that I didn't recognise was the Hays Office.


A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 12

Florida Sailor Back From Havana, Cuba

I hope DG doesn't mind, the Hays office was in charge of censorship of US television shows. They made sure that a moral code was followed, including such things as married couples only be shown as sleeping in twin beds.

F smiley - dolphin S


A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 13

Dmitri Gheorgheni

I will reword that bit about Grandpa Walton's return. I have not seen those episodes, having sampled a mere few of the multitude of same....I was relying on a synopsis. smiley - laugh Thanks for catching me up.

But I still take issue about the house. I've seen pictures of it now, and yes, it really is that nice. The people of the Old Dominion (before you ask, Tav, that's a nickname for Virginia and it means 'a,e,i,o,u') are such an elite that even their hillbillies are of a much higher class than everybody else's hillbillies....

My family in Tennessee and Mississippi also built their own houses. During the Depression, they did not have paint. Whitewash is cheaper, yes. This is why they have a saying in Mississippi, 'Too poor to paint, too proud to whitewash,' which also features in the title of a book by John Grisham, a Memphis lawyer who learned how to write novels in night school....(useless information, but it goes to show....)

The only way to get a barn painted in Tennessee was to have it say 'Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco' or 'Visit Rock City'. I can understand if nobody in the Blue Ridge wanted to visit Rock City, which is in Chattanooga, along with that other perennial favourite, Ruby Falls. (Named for Ruby.) However, you'd be amazed at what lengths people would go to in the 1930s to attract attention on backroads. Remember: there were no interstates at the time.

Anyway, I remember being in the Great Smoky Mountains in the 1950s, as a small child, winding around steep mountainsides in the family Chevy. All the barns had advertising, and most farmhouses had a clothesline full of hook rugs and quilts for sale, even though we were the only car on the road at the time. smiley - laugh

smiley - ok Thanks, MVP! I'll put in a footnote about the Hays Office. It's like the British Board of Censors, if the British Board of Censors had been Catholics.


A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 14

Florida Sailor Back From Havana, Cuba

I don't think the Walton barn was at the side of a mountain road, but probably at the end of a five mile long drivewaysmiley - smiley

By the end of the series the 'jitney lumber mill' will evolve into a cabinet shop providing desks and chairs for Government contracts. So I think their carpentry skills are a bit more advanced than it first seems.

F smiley - dolphin S


A87916918 - Will Geer: Grandpa Walton, Communism, and the Shakespearean Garden

Post 15

Dmitri Gheorgheni

smiley - laugh I think you're right. Some of the furniture items they've produced so far are impressive, including a free-standing full-length mirror and a cradle.


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