One of television's most enduring family dramas, The Waltons appeared for the first time on the CBS lineup on September 14, 1972. Part of the appeal of watching the Walton clan was the weekly dose of nostalgia associated with a simpler time.
This weekend, 41 years later, opportunities exist all over Montgomery County, Pa., to reach back to the past, sift through those warm memories and emerge with a greater appreciation of what once was. In pursuit of some vintage fun? Try these suggestions.
The showmanship associated with the rodeo began as a simple demonstration of cowhand skills at the end of a long cattle drive. By the dawn of the 20th century, they evolved into a major entertainment form, driven by travelling impresarios such as the legendary Buffalo Bill Cody. The art of ropin', riding', and rasslin' hasn't been altogether lost, however, as you can see for yourself at the Lulu Shriners' 25th annual Liberty Pro Rodeo, opening this weekend, September 13-15, and continuing next weekend, September 20-22, in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. Professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls from all over the country will compete in events that include saddle bronc riding, bull riding and barrel racing. No need to search for the chuck wagon if your stomach starts growling like the snore of a sleepy hound dog; there will be food a'plenty on hand.
The popular songs of composer/lyricist giants such as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and Jerome Kern get a worthy revival at the Steel River Playhouse's Lyric Fest Broadway Cabaret on Saturday, September 14. Tickets are all-inclusive, giving you a glass of wine at the pre-show wine and cheese. Act I follows, where you'll find yourself awash in tunes both familiar and perhaps, unfamiliar. At the break for intermission, it's dessert time, where you can sample sweets from a loaded buffet. And then it's back to the favorites from the Great American Songbook, as well as speakeasy songs of bygone days, chestnuts and little-known gems. Come and tune your ears to a time when the music issuing from 42nd Street dominated the radio airwaves, the record store shelves and dance band concert programs.
If your television preferences were more Wuzzles than Waltons, you might want to check out Retro Con at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, Saturday, September 14, in Oaks, Pa. The event, celebrating all things pop culture from the 1970s and 1980s, includes dealer tables, panel discussions, voice actors and two costume competitions, one for children and one for adults. The chance to sift through the toys and merchandise associated with film franchises such as Star Wars and He-Man is irresistible to Gen-Xers who grew up amid these brands of fantasy, as The Pursuit learned earlier this week in its Tuesday blog post (which spurred subsequent coverage in The Times Herald). Retro Con comes to a 1.21-gigawatt closing with a big-screen showing of Back to the Future at the Regal Cinema 24 adjacent to the Expo Center.
Flour and cornmeal didn't always come in sacks from a supermarket shelf; it was produced at area grist mills, where farmers brought corn and grain and had it stone-ground into a form more usable for cooking and baking. The chance to witness this process today is taking place on Sunday, September 15, at the Evans-Mumbower Mill in Upper Gwynedd, Pa. The Evans-Mumbower Mill has been the subject of ongoing restoration and preservation, resurrecting it from its years of abandonment, deterioration and exposure. In 2008, the property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and today, work continues on its water wheel and millstones, preserving this vital piece of local history.
A year after the debut of The Waltons, George Lucas' valentine to the cars and SoCal nightlife of the 1950s, American Graffiti, grabbed hold of American's affection toward automotive nostalgia. Motoring through local streets after dark in a T-Bird, Chevy, Impala or Merc doesn't happen much anymore (especially with gasoline averaging over $3.25 a gallon), but you can still rev your engine at the Lansdale Cruise Night, Saturday, September 14. Bobbysoxers and greasers alike can rediscover the joys of driving up and down Main & Broad St., again and again. And if you find yourself without wheels (nerd!) but still want to take part in the fun, a bus is available, fully decked out with a sound system to blare the rock and roll that your parents' generation hated. There are prizes to win, and proceeds (and food "drive" donations) benefit Manna on Main Street.
Each episode of The Waltons ended with an exterior shot of the house at night, as the family - John, ‘Livvy, John-Boy, Mary Ellen, Jason, Erin, Ben, Jim-Bob, Elizabeth, Grandma and Grandpa - nestled in for a good night's rest. If all this travel back in time wears you out and you need a cozy nook to lay your head, consider the options found here.