(2 November 1972)
Writer: William Welch.
Director: Harry Harris.
Music: Jerry Goldsmith.
"There was beauty on Waltons Mountain at any time of the year, but looking back the time I treasure most is Spring, when the days were growing longer and the promise of Summer was ahead. They were the kind of days made for dreaming, but being the oldest of seven children during the Depression didn't leave much time for daydreams. I remember a morning in the 1930s when I had been sent to oversee the buying of a pair of shoes for my youngest sister Elizabeth".
While bringing home new shoes for Elizabeth from Godsey’s store, John-Boy, Mary Ellen, and Elizabeth observe their dog, Chance, chasing a raccoon. They follow the pair into the woods to find a boy about to kill the wild animal. John-Boy and the boy fight, but the skirmish is short-lived after the boy injures his ankle. The children find that the boy’s name is Gino and invite him home for supper. Elizabeth decides to nurse the sick raccoon and names him Pete. Gino tells the family that he is a poor orphan wearing clothes from the boy scouts, but Grandpa and Grandma don’t believe him.Grandpa volunteers the children to pick strawberries for supper while Elizabeth stays with Gino. Ben observes Jim Bob arrive, knowing he has secretively gone to the Baldwin house. They discover a stranger on the porch. Elizabeth introduces Gino to them, but they are more interested in the raccoon. Inside the house Olivia and Grandma discuss Gino, uneasy about letting him stay. Gino overhears them and informs them that he’ll sleep in the barn if they don’t think he’ll smell up the place. John arrives home to learn that Gino is from “up around Big Meadow”.
At supper Gino joins the family as Elizabeth says grace. Gino is very hungry, unaware of the family protocol of passing the food. After learning about Elizabeth’s new pet John agrees to build a cage for Pete. Afterwards John asks John-Boy about Gino’s background, thinking he may be an Army deserter. When John-Boy shows Gino the hayloft where he’ll spend the night. Gino compliments Olivia by saying she’s “some cook”. John-Boy responds, “You’re some eater.” Later John-Boy writes in his journal: “The darkness of night is around us now. Beyond the safety of the house the wild things with their shiny eyes are moving through the shadows. There is something wild too about the boy sleeping in the barn. What he is running from we don’t know but I think he is beginning to trust us and maybe by tomorrow the mystery will be all cleared up.”
At breakfast Gino walks in late with a handful of eggs and reluctantly hands them over to Olivia. Later Gino finds Elizabeth talking to a flower. He admits that he has a sister who was adopted from an orphan house. At breakfast the next day John informs the family that he has a job training Dennis Marshall’s new bird dog in Albemarle County. Elizabeth wants her daddy to look at Pete but John is already late. Olivia tries to explain to her why the family needs the money. John-Boy agrees to doctor the raccoon. Gino follows the pair to the sick animal. John-Boy doesn’t like how the animal is looking, asking Elizabeth to release Pete. But Elizabeth insists on keeping him. Gino comments to Olivia, as she places a blanket around Pete, that the animal would be better off dead. Olivia doubts if they could convince Elizabeth of that idea.
That night John returns home with five dollars. Olivia says the money will go into the children’s winter shoe fund. After supper the family and Gino listen to the radio during a rainstorm. With too much static on the radio they decide to retire early. After Gino leaves for the barn Olivia locks the front and back doors. Gino secretively looks on as Olivia places the five dollars with the other money stored inside a jar in the top kitchen cabinet. After Olivia turns off the lights and walks upstairs, Gino opens the locked door with his knife and attempts to steal the money. But, John catches him and stares at Gino with his pointed shotgun. The next morning John lectures Gino, wondering how he could treat his family so poorly after taking him in, feeding and housing him. John decides to send Jason to find the sheriff at Ike’s store. Gino states that there was only about twenty dollars in the jar. John responds that twenty dollars is a lot of money to them. Gino comments how his old man paid that amount each week as protection money on his store to protect against hoods in Hell’s Kitchen (New York City). John feels Gino is at his crossroads, not wanting to make things more difficult or easier on him. Gino tells John to stop trying to run his life. Jason informs his father that he asked Ike to tell the sheriff to stop by the house after he drinks his usual bottle of pop.
Jim Bob confesses to his mother that he has twenty cents that doesn’t belong to him. Olivia learns that he sold the Baldwin sisters “bluing” after learning about it in an advertisement. Not knowing what “bluing” is and how to order it, Jim Bob doesn’t know what to do. Olivia tells Jim Bob that they will buy “bluing” at Ike’s store, deliver it to the Baldwin sisters, and the leftover money will be his commission.
Elizabeth tells her father than Pete is worse. As John leaves to treat the animal he tells Gino that he can’t tell him how to live his life. John-Boy tells Gino that he thinks his father is letting him run away. John-Boy tells Gino that he hopes things work out for him. Gino doesn’t understand why everybody is worried about him and the raccoon, calling the family “dirt-poor hicks”. John-Boy angrily responds by saying that the family has something that most people don’t have: “love enough to go around and some to spare” and the family love life whether “it’s an injured raccoon or a runaway boy”. John inspects the raccoon and convinces Elizabeth to ask Olivia for some sassafras tea and honey, knowing the raccoon doesn’t have much time to live. As Elizabeth asks her mother for the tea John walks inside to tell her that Pete has died. Elizabeth cries in her daddy’s arms. The family holds a funeral in a downpour of rain. After John says words over the gravesite Elizabeth blames the death on her father. She runs off to the barn, while Gino runs after her. He explains to Elizabeth how his mother died, and how hoods killed his father. With the adults and John-Boy listening Gino helps Elizabeth understand death when he says, “It was right for him to let go of life and it was right for us to let go of him”. Elizabeth asks what death means and Gino says, “Death is closing your eyes and instead of the darkness you see the light.” Elizabeth runs to her father. Sheriff Bridges arrives but John feels Gino has taken the right road, so decides not hand him over. John tells Ep that quail season opens on Saturday, and invites him to hunt at John-Boy’s Meadow. As Ep leaves Gino thanks the family for their help and decides to return to the C.C.C. Grandma invites Gino for chocolate cake. Elizabeth sits next to Pete’s grave, telling her father that wild animals should be left in the wild.
"For a while after he left Gino used to write to us, at first from the CCC camp, and later from New York City where he returned when the Depression was over. Today where the CCC camp once stood is a National Park, and in Autumn when the leaves are gold and russet and lemon yellow and apple red, people drive for hundreds of miles to refresh their souls and their spirit with beauty".
John-Boy: Yes honey?
Elizabeth: Do flowers talk?
John-Boy: I don't know Elizabeth, why?
Elizabeth: I kissed a hollyhock today, I thought I heard something whisper. What do you think?
John-Boy: I think if we learnt to listen we could hear all kinds of miracles.
Elizabeth: Goodnight, John-Boy.
The setting is spring in the 1930s.
Albemarle County is just northeast of Nelson County (the county Hamner called Jefferson County).
Hell's Kitchen is the area in New York City between 34th and 59th Streets, from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River. For a history of Hell’s Kitchen go to http://www.midtownmedia.com/chronicle/HKhistory.htm
During the Depression in March 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt created a Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.), a plan to put 500,000 unemployed youths to work in forests, parks and rangelands. For a history of the C.C.C., go to http://pages.prodigy.com/reunion/history.htm.
The Big Meadows areas occurred in the Shenandoah National Forest. For more information go to: http://www.usatourist.com/english/places/virginia/shenandoah.html.
Bluing is a concentrated blue liquid that optically whitens white fabric. It does not remove stains, does not "clean", but adds a microscopic blue particle to white fabric that has been giving fabric that "just bought" whiteness for many years. It is made of a very fine blue iron powder suspended in water. For more information on bluing, go to http://www.mrsstewart.com/mainhomepage/msbframe.htm.
Ike Godsey (Joe Conley), Sheriff Ep Bridges (John Crawford), Gino (Michael Rupert).
(Synopsis written by William Atkins and edited by Arthur Dungate)