I come from a very small town. I think most of you know I hail from “Walton’s Mountain” and believe me, it is still very much the same small laid back sleepy town that Earl Hamner, Jr. wrote about in the seventies in his well know television series. Not a lot went on back then and not a lot goes on now. There is one high school for the entire county and one middle school and they may have whittled the elementary schools down to 1 or 2. At least when I was growing up we had an elementary school for each little “community”. There was one in Schuyler (my hometown), and I believe one in Tye River, Shipman, Lovingston and Rockfish Valley (which was actually Afton). So many people grew up and moved away that it was no longer feasible to keep the individual schools open for so few kids so they consolidated.
When my dad was young Schuyler had it’s own theater and hospital and hotel. It was a bustling little “mining” town although what they mined was rock, not coal. Soapstone to be precise. My dad actually worked at the “plant” as they called it for several years. My youngest likes to tell people that her mom (me of course) is so old that her elementary school got turned into a museum. Well, that is partially true. It was turned into a museum. Not because I’m old but because the town could no longer support the school and since the town’s most famous son, Earl Hamner, Jr. had become so well known for his series “The Walton’s” they decided to turn the now empty elementary school into “the Walton’s” museum. It is a community center of sorts and they still hold annual reunions of past alumni every fall and during the summer it is used as a “farmer’s market” of sorts and it does house memorabilia from the Walton’s era and it is conveniently located across the road from the “Walton’s homeplace”.
When I was very little, up until about 7 or 8 years old, we lived right down the road from this school and we walked there daily. I walked daily by the Hamner house and used to stop in almost every day and talk to Mrs. Hamner and I’d spend hours in her kitchen watching her fix dinner for her husband and eating her homemade biscuits and jam. She taught me to knit and was one of the kindest women I ever knew. Even after I got married I would still come home and go visit her.
I give you this background information just to let you know that it still hasn’t changed much. When I go home I feel like I have stepped back in time. My parents just got telephone service not that long ago. The phone company would not run the lines for years because they deemed it too expensive for the number of customers they would receive.
There is still no cell service at my parents place which kind of intrigues me. I know that AllTel used to be one of the main carriers in that area and a couple of years ago they were bought out by Verizon (who coincidentally is my carrier) so I really thought that once that merger happened, I’d be able to get better service down there but I think it’s probably worse if anything. My dad was telling me that after the merger several of the old AllTel towers were torn down and Verizon was supposed to build new ones but was having trouble getting local land owners to cooperate with it not because the people who owned the land were against it, but, because the neighbors of the people who owned the land were complaining. Really?? Is this jealousy because they weren’t offered the contract or are they really concerned with the aesthetics?
So, when I visit my parents, I have no cell coverage unless I walk to then end of their driveway and then it’s iffy at best. You might be able to place a call and you might not. Coincidentally, occasionally, you can receive a text message inside the house. You just can’t return it. So weird that you can get a signal in enough to receive the text but not to send one. And my sister lives about two miles from them and there is ONE spot in her driveway where you can occasionally pick up a signal. You usually have to drive a couple of miles away to pick up a signal at the top of a hill. For the most part you aren’t going to get a clear signal until you get about 10 miles from their house.
And internet service? Forget about it! Not gonna happen. They don’t use computers even though both myself and my sister have given them one. My mom has more than once professed an interest in learning to use a computer and I even set up dial up internet service for them and showed her how to do it (and I think my brother in law did to) but the computers are sitting in the corner of her living room, unplugged…. Gathering dust. And if she DID have service it would be dial-up which would drive me crazy to try to use now, so, if you want to use internet service you have to drive to a little coffee shop (Rapunzel’s) about 10 or so miles away (over the mountain) to pick up WiFi and that is for another post. The building which houses this coffee shop was originally a “packing shed”. The coffee shop also doubles as a used book store.
So, I will leave you with this. If you ever plan on visiting Schuyler and the Walton’s Museum, make sure you take care of any cell or internet business you have before visiting because I don’t think you’re gonna get any while you’re there. Good night, John Boy!