Recently I was scanning with the TV remote - a skill most men master at an early age, but one that has become more difficult with the proliferation of cable channels - and I happened to run across an episode of The Waltons. It was about a young man pursuing a musical career, and as I watched him pounding on the piano in the family's parlor it got me to thinking. If times were tough and money was tight, how could they afford a piano? And in a larger sense, how realistic was the whole series?
For those who might have been on the moon for a couple of decades, first let me explain that The Waltons was a TV show about a Depression-era family in rural Virginia. It was in the Top Ten for a lot of years beginning in the early 1970s and even if you're not too sure how much you remember about it, you might at least recognize the theme song. You might also remember that the musically-inclined young man was second-son Jason, who was often shown playing and singing, sometimes at barn dances with an old-style country music group.
Music was often a part of the show, but let's get back to that realism thing. In all fairness, I don't think that show's creators ever pretended that it was anything but an idealized view of life in those days. After all, most story-lines were pretty benign and were always neatly wrapped up by the end of the episode. This usually involved a learning experience for the saintly oldest son John-Boy, who was quite possibly the most annoying character on TV.
Since I live and breathe nostalgia (and write about it) I can't really fault them. After all, fondly remembering the good times while conveniently forgetting the bad is the very definition of nostalgia. But I do think that they could have been a tiny bit more realistic about some things.