Episode 13: The Reunion

 

(14 December 1972)

Writer: Earl Hamner

Director: Jack Shea

Music: Jerry Goldsmith.

 

The Reunion

 

"Waltons Mountain had been in our family for generations, a silent witness to all the bright and wonderful days I knew as a boy. If mountains remember events then surely it must treasure as I do the memory of that day during the Depression when my sister Mary Ellen got into a fight after school and the events that followed".

 

John-Boy breaks up a school fight between Mary Ellen and Frank, after the classmate made Jim Bob cry for wearing girls’ clothes. At home the family sits down for supper with Grandma saying grace. John asks Mary Ellen about her black eye when Jim Bob races over to hug her, glad that she fought for him. Olivia says that his clothes are fine and clean, as she returns to hand washing of the family’s clothes in the kitchen sink. Grandpa suggests to John that he get his wife a washing machine, but John responds that he can’t afford the expense. John-Boy listens to what is said.

 

At Ike’s store Miss Mamie tells her sister that ladies don’t operate gambling machines as she receives “two lemons and a cherry” on the one-arm bandit. Miss Emily wishes she wasn’t born a lady. John-Boy walks in to ask Ike about the second-hand washing machine. Ike asks thirty-five dollars for it, but John-Boy talks him down to twenty dollars. Without any money, John-Boy wonders if he can work to pay it off. Needing cash, Ike declines the offer. Miss Emily overhears the conversation and suggests he work for them. While she tells Miss Mamie, John-Boy confides in Ike that he should not work for the two ladies because they sell bootleg whiskey. Ike rationalizes that they are only following their Papa’s recipe, describing them like “two little girls by the roadside selling lemonade”. The sisters tell Ike and John-Boy that they need assistance while their fourth cousin Homer Lee is visiting. John-Boy begins his employment by packing groceries.

 

At the Baldwin house Homer Lee toasts Mamie and Emily as Miss Emily reminisces about Ashley Longworth taking liberties out by the maple tree. Homer remembers that there was “no talk of marriage”. John-Boy is introduced to Cousin Homer Lee, who announces he has not been in Buckingham County for over twenty years. With that startling news, the sisters decide to organize a family reunion so Homer Lee can visit his relatives. They agree to make “oceans of the Recipe”. Later, John-Boy finds Ike and Sheriff Bridges playing pool at the store. Away from Ep, John-Boy presents Ike with a dollar deposit for his first day of work. Ike gives him a receipt, but says he can’t hold it if someone else decides to buy the machine.

 

While John and Grandpa work at the sawmill John-Boy asks his father to borrow the truck so he can deliver supplies from Ike’s to the Baldwin place. John agrees but says that if his Momma finds out she will have a “duck fit”. Grandpa suggests going with John-Boy, but John believes his father only wants some of the Recipe. The Baldwin sisters greet the pair as they bring sugar and cornmeal. Grandpa meets Homer Lee, accepts a cup of the Recipe, and after several drinks joins the sisters in song and dance.

 

The family eats supper while waiting for Grandpa and John-Boy. Jason doesn’t think any trouble could come to John-Boy with Grandpa along. Grandpa and the sisters continue to sing and drink as Homer Lee looks at his watch and John-Boy wonders if they should return home. Homer Lee reminds them of their plan to see a talking picture show so the party breaks up. But when they start the car the battery is dead. Grandpa decides to use the truck to transport them. With Grandpa in the back, Homer Lee loads a suitcase full of dirty laundry, but it sounds more like full mason jars.

 

Back home, Olivia and Grandma continue to worry when John decides to search for the pair. Olivia goes along to the Baldwin house. As they approach the theatre Homer Lee does not want to watch The Crooning Cowboy with Billy Jack Bibb because it is one that he has seen before. He pays for everyone’s ticket but says he’ll find something else to do. As the movie begins Homer Lee sneaks up to Daisy Burgess house with his suitcase. She thinks the drink is some type of snake water, but upon sampling his liquor says, “Precious thing, you’ve got something here that I’ve never tasted before”. They talk business over a manicure and some of the Recipe.

 

John and Olivia look inside the Recipe room as John tells his wife that John-Boy was delivering them supplies. Olivia thinks John knows his way around the house too well. After the show the group sing as they drive home. When John-Boy and Grandpa arrive at the house they find Sheriff Bridges drinking coffee with Grandma. Just then John and Olivia return. As Grandpa explains what occurred, Grandma exclaims, “One is too young to be sowing wild oats, and the other one is too old”. Ep says that someone was reported in John’s truck transporting bootleg whiskey in Charlottesville. John-Boy says they were all at the movie, except for Homer Lee. When the Sheriff hears the name, he explains that the man has a record that “stretches from here to Rockfish”. Against Olivia’s wishes, Sheriff asks John-Boy to watch Homer Lee and report to him if anything happens, hoping his assistance will help the ladies.

 

Miss Mamie is making the Recipe as Miss Emily addresses reunion envelopes, marking one especially for Ashley Longworth. Miss Emily remembers Ashley’s cheekbones, but Miss Emily can only remember that he had one blue eye and one green eye. John-Boy walks into the house asking what they need. Miss Emily wonders if some time he could bring over his brothers and sisters, then sends him to the store for twelve dozen jars. At the store John-Boy asks Ike for one hundred twenty seven three-cent stamps, 144 quart-size mason-jars, and gives him five dollars more for the deposit. That night, Grandpa and John are playing checkers when John-Boy asks to borrow the truck again for the Baldwin’s. Still against his work, Olivia says, “Thank God we’re Baptist and can deal with evil!” Grandpa and John smirk to themselves.

 

The next morning John-Boy arrives at the Baldwin house to help with the reunion. After returning with branch water, John-Boy finds that the truck and the Recipe are missing. With Miss Mamie and Miss Emily dressed for the festivities they tell John-Boy that Homer Lee went to the train station to pick up early arrivals. But, John-Boy knows something is up. He calls Sheriff Bridges from Ike’s store. Later John-Boy returns to the Baldwin house to find that no one is coming to the party, either deceased or with an unknown address. John-Boy returns home knowing the ladies are sadden by the news. He asks his parents if they would take the children to the Baldwins and spend some time with them. When Grandpa decides to go, Grandma says she’ll follow to keep him out of trouble. Olivia agrees, too.

 

Miss Mamie and Miss Emily answer a knock on the front door to find the Walton family at the doorstep. The ladies are glad to see the family and invite them in for lemonade. Grandma plays the piano as they all sing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”. Ep arrives to tell John that his truck was recovered behind Daisy’s beauty parlor. Miss Emily makes a toast to John-Boy. The next day John-Boy surprises his mother with the washing machine from the money he made helping the Baldwin sisters make the Recipe.

 

"When we were living through them we called them bad times and thought that we were poor. Only after we had all grown up were we to realise what good times they had been and how very rich we were. Often in memory I return to that house and to the echoes of those voices".

 

John: You asleep?

Olivia: Not yet.

John: Thinking about today?

Olivia: I was thinking about them all growing up, getting married, leaving us.

John: Um, you can't keep them for ever.

Olivia: I know.

John: 'Night Livy.

Olivia: 'Night.

 

Notes:

Homer Lee Baldwin is the Baldwin sister’s fourth cousin from Buckingham County. The Baldwin name is from his father’s side of the family.

The Baldwin sisters mention a Cousin Cora from Washington, D.C. who stayed with them when their Papa died. Miss Mamie and Miss Emily also mention Cousin Tyrone from Buckingham County who was confined at one time for driving his home-built chariot around the streets of his home.

The license plates on the Baldwin sister’s car are 79-982 Virginia.

The Baldwin sisters, John-Boy, and Grandpa watch the movie The Croonin’ Cowboy featuring the actor Billy Jack Bibb. This is the first “talkie” (talking picture show) that the sisters have ever seen. The last picture show they saw was the silent movie The Gold Rush featuring Charlie Chaplin. The Gold Rush appeared on January 26, 1925. Charlie Chaplin was thirty-six years old at the time. No information was found on the movie The Croonin’ Cowboy and the actor Billy Jack Bibb.

Daisy Burgess’ beauty parlor is located on a street with number “35”.

Ashley Longworth graduated from the University of Virginia. According to Miss Mamie the man had one blue eye and one green eye. Miss Emily said that he kissed her under the maple tree “without talking of marriage”.

As the Baldwin sisters and Grandpa drink the Recipe, they sing “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen”. For the lyrics of this song, go to http://www.contemplator.com/folk3/kathleen.html.

While the Baldwin sisters, John-Boy, Grandpa, and Homer drive back from the picture show, they sing the song “Springtime in the Rockies”. For the lyrics of this song, go to http://brave.com/bo/lyrics/sprntime.htm.

While at the Baldwin house the Waltons join with Miss Mamie and Miss Emily in the singing of the song “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”. For the lyrics of this song, go to http://auntyjanet.freeservers.com/letme.html.

 

Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley), Sheriff Ep Bridges (John Crawford), Homer Lee Baldwin (Denver Pyle), Daisy Burgess (Adele Clair), Frank (unknown).

 

(synopsis written by William Atkins and edited by Arthur Dungate)