Episode 3 - The Recluse

(29 September 1977)
Writer: Seth Freeman.
Director:
Walter Alzmann.

Music: Alexander Courage.

 

"As the news of war in Europe grew increasingly grim, we could feel a tension here at home, a charge of electricity in the air as we looked at the outside world with new interest and concern. It was a time when my brother Ben was reaching out for new horizons, and for my family, the long Depression years were coming to an end".

 

Ben suddenly finds himself out of work when his boss, Mr. Jarvis, closes the used car lot for more lucrative defense work at the Norfolk shipyards. With little prospects on the Mountain, Ben announces that he is moving to Norfolk to find a job. John insists he is needed at the mill but with little work coming in John eventually succumbs to Ben’s decision. The next morning Ben is driven to the Rockfish bus station by his parents. Olivia puts on a frozen smile, attempting to show a brave front for her son.

While at the general mercantile store, Ike asks Jason to drop off a package to Fern Lockwood, a recluse few people have seen in years. Jason rings her front door and, as he departs, is asked to split logs at the back door. When finished he looks back wondering who is this mysterious woman. Returning later to retrieve his forgotten jacket Jason hears a music box. Noticing something outside, Miss Lockwood finds Jason whom she calls ‘the musical one’. Jason learns she would secretively listen to the children’s conversations as they passed to and from school. She becomes overwhelmed listening to Jason talk about the numerous activities in the lives of the Waltons.

During another night, Jason hears her singing. She invites Jason inside to listen to a new music box from Philadelphia. Noticing her piano Jason is told it has only been played once. Unable to learn by whom, Jason plays the piano. Almost immediately, Miss Lockwood develops a respiratory attack that must be relieved by pills. Jason then is informed that she and her father moved to Waltons Mountain to relieve his lung problems. On her twentieth birthday, they journeyed to Richmond for a concert. She met Kiel backstage where they immediately became attracted to each other. Mishap over took them when he was killed while on the way to their wedding at the Baptist church. Since then, Miss Fern has dedicated her life to ‘that one perfect love that could have been’.

John finds an advertisement in the Charlottesville paper looking for a subcontractor to a construction contract. While Grandpa and John drive to bid on the work, Ben walks through the Peyton Shipyards. He locates the supervisor who hires him after Ben tells him he has experience working in furniture mills. Back home, Grandpa and John disagree on accepting the huge contract to make desks for the U.S. Army.

Miss Fern loses her canary after leaving the cage door open. She is distraught when Jason suggests they drive to a pet shop in Charlottesville. She resists saying she has not been out of the house in years. Jason convinces her to go but when stopping at Ike’s for gas, Ike, Corabeth, and Easy Jackson stare at her. Very self-conscious about being out in public, she forces Jason to return to the safety of her home.

Ben sees his friend Anson still in search for a job. Because his rent is twice as high as expected Ben invites Anson to share the costs. On Ben’s first ‘night’ of work, he cuts forms and makes eye contact with a pretty woman worker. After work Ben, Anson, and their dates go to a South Seas nightclub. Ben is amazed at the appearance and names of the exotic drinks they are served and the dancers that entertain them. After the drinks arrive, Ben’s date makes a toast ‘to Ben’s new world’.

While Ben is promoted to the job of running the shaper, John is having trouble keeping on schedule. Easy Jackson is hired but after a day’s work, leaves with his wages. Grandpa becomes disgusted and hitchhikes to Norfolk. In desperation, Olivia insists that she will help in the mill. Ben takes Grandpa to the same tropical club where it is learned that John has been too stubborn to ask for Ben’s help with the big Army contract. Ben feels the need to help his father and leaves with Grandpa for home.

Jason gives Miss Fern is new canary and for his kindness, she invites him for tea. As a token of her appreciation, she presents Jason with a music box. Knowing about Miss Fern’s good voice, Jason decides to take her to church next Sunday. She resists saying it would take ‘a team of wild horses’ to make her go. But on Sunday morning, Jason appears on her doorstep. Miss Fern is near hysteria with the thought of attending church. Jason states she has not built a monument of love but rather a monument of death. He relates the story of his close friend Seth who died and how he had to learn to live again. With Jason’s support, she notices the new gravestones at the church and the real, clear glass in the windows. She stops at the steps and remembers her wedding day, the very place where she learned the fate of her beloved Kiel. The congregation is singing while they enter the church. With Ike leading hymn number 344 and Jason at the organ, Olivia shares her hymnal with Miss Fern; and slowly begins to regain her life.

John, meanwhile, is busy working when Ben surprises him with, ‘Can you use some help?’ John states, ‘I can always use a good man!’

 

"Ben remained at home and for a while the family was intact. But each day brought the war closer and closer to the mountain and with it the knowledge that each of the boys would be called to serve our country, which in time we did".

 

Grandpa: Goodnight, Ben.
Jason: Welcome home brother.
Jim Bob: 'Night Ben, I'm glad you're home.
Ben: Well I don't think I can sleep, I'm still running on the night shift. This is when I've been waking up.
Elizabeth (brightly): Morning Ben!
Olivia: Good morning Ben.
Erin: Good morning Ben.
John and Jason: 'Morning Ben!
Ben (sleepily): Goodnight....

 

Notes:

Ben has just graduated high school.

Fern Lockwood’s first canary is named Gabriel. Her second pet is named after Jason.

Ben’s job at the shipyard pays time and a half because he is working the graveyard shift, starting at 12:30 a.m. Ben is promoted to the job of using the shaper that pays one dollar fifty cents more each day.

 

Also appearing:

Miss Fern Lockwood (Linda Marsh); Anson Adams (Joseph A. Butcher); Mr. Jarvis (Lew Brown); Anson’s Girlfriend (Robin Pohle); Ben’s Girlfriend (Carol Ann Williams); Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Easy Jackson (Britt Leach); Ship Foreman (Eric Lawson); Curtis Willard (Tom Bower); Worker (Llynn Storer); Waiter (Hatsuo Uda); Farmer Walker Edminston).