(14 November 1974) 58-3-10
Writer: Joseph Bonaduce.
Director: Harry Harris.
Music: Alexander Courage.
"In those grey and grinding days of the Depression we often found comfort in the old familiar proverbs. We knew that in unity there was strength, that blood was thicker than water, that to err was human, and to forgive, divine. Usually we never examined these truths too closely, but in the autumn of 1934 I discovered, through pain and remorse, just how profoundly true they were".
Grandpa walks up to the house as John drives up in the truck with Erin, Ben, Jim Bob, and Elizabeth in the back holding onto a boat. Ben informs Grandpa that they got the boat from Mr. Carmichael who owns the big house on the Rockfish River. Grandpa thinks they should name the boat “Cork” because it is the “floatiest” material known, and the boat will need all the help that it can get. The children hope to fix it up and sail it on Druscilla’s Pond. After supper, the children work on the boat, while John-Boy (who is upset) and Olivia (who is smiling) stay at the table. John-Boy admits the special writing class that he’s been trying to enter has finally accepted him. He is nervous because he is the only freshman in the class, and is worried that he will not measure up. He takes his mind off the class, as he goes to help with the boat.
At the writing class, Professor Parks gives John-Boy an abbreviated lecture that he missed, and asks the other students (including Miss Barstow, Mr. Trulock, Miss Webb, and Mr. Carpenter) to tell what they are writing. John-Boy tells them that he is writing short stories about the experiences of his family. He looks a bit intimidated by the other’s more impressive writings. The kids try to close the seams on the boat, but are failing. When John-Boy drives up, he offers to help if he becomes Captain. John-Boy twists the ends of the rope with a length of pipe until the seams become tight. Mary Ellen suggests he write a story about their boat, but he now doubts his writing abilities. In his room, John-Boy admits to Olivia (who brings him his supper) that he must bring in a sample of his work, but feels his work is not acceptable to the sophisticated students. John-Boy thanks his mother when Olivia says that he must get use to other’s criticizing his work. Jason plays his guitar as Olivia leaves John-Boy’s room.
At the store, Ike tells Olivia that the material she ordered has arrived. When she asks about Jason’s harmonica, Ike says Jason only ordered it yesterday. Ike shows Olivia a newspaper advertisement for Grogan’s department store in Charlottesville. Olivia is more interested in an advertisement for writers, which she takes home. Later, at Ike’s store, Jason plays his new harmonica that just arrived. A stranger listens to Jason’s music. Jason tells Casper Tice that he also plays the guitar and hopes someday to become a professional musician. Tice says that he travels with Bobby Bigelow and the Haystack Gang, and sets up an audition at the Scottsville Barn Dance Hall on Friday at five o’clock in the afternoon. Jason is overwhelmed by the news, but asks Ike to keep the secret until after the audition.
John-Boy comes home from school to see Mary Ellen scrape a piece of the boat. He tells his sister that he read a story about Benji, the little terrier he had when he was little. The class thought the story was “nice”, and Mary Ellen responds that they could have said it was “terrible”. Inside Olivia tells John-Boy her good news: she submitted one of his short stories to Majestic Press and they are going to publish it and another six stories. John-Boy is so excited that he tells everyone while jumping up and down. Jason tries to tell the family a little bit of his good news, but it is drowned out by John-Boy’s news. He goes outside and works on the boat. Later, in class, John-Boy tells the other students that he has not heard any additional news from the publisher. The class is not too positive about him sending the company his story about Benji.
Jason arrives at the audition and is introduced to Bobby Bigelow. As Jason plays and sings the song Sweet Betsy From Pike the band members gather around to listen. Bobby interrupts to say, “You’re good, real good.” John-Boy receives the publishing contract. He tells the family that when he signs it he will be a professional writer, and all of his success is due to his family. Jason tries to tell the family his big news but they are too excited about John-Boy’s news to hear him. John is uneasy at the quickness that John-Boy and Olivia signed the contract, but no one will listen to his cautiousness. John-Boy tells his parents that a professor called him a “literary lion”, and then goes to the store to mail the contract. Later, John-Boy informs his parents that he will have more expected from him at school so will not be able to help the children as much as in the past. At class, John-Boy asks Prof. Parks if he knows the youngest author ever to be published. A student asks John-Boy to speak at a literary society that she attends. Prof. Parks also tells him that Timothy Collins, the “Roving Reporter” wants to interview John-Boy for his radio show. However, after all this good news, he still only receives a “B-“ on his latest assignment.
The kids paint the boat as Grandpa and Grandma look on, with Zeb saying that they need a bottle of the Recipe for the launching. The children ask John-Boy for help but he says he’s too busy. Ben threatens to replace him as Captain if he doesn’t help. Grandma wants to take a hand to John-Boy, as he acts too big for his britches. Jason is playing with Bobby Bigelow's band at a barn dance. After singing the song Little Brown Jug Bobby agrees to give Jason three dollars, fifty cents each night he plays. The group then sings I Wish I was Single Again. At Ike’s store, John-Boy receives his box of books (with blue covers). They are titled Short Stories: A Collection by John Walton, Jr. John-Boy gives Ike the first book and writes inside it, “To my friend Ike Godsey, one of the people who made it possible for me to write these stories. Sincerely, John Walton, Jr.”
Olivia and John-Boy excitedly leave to tell the family. While showing the family the books, John-Boy reads a passage “At night across Virginia, across the old fought-upon earth, there comes a sweet darkness that seeps down from the mountains, and laden with the scent of dogwood, flows across the hills and into the valleys.” But, suddenly, John-Boy finds a bill inside for the cost for the fifty book first printing. John-Boy realizes it is a racket, and is depressed by the fact. John, Olivia, and John-Boy visit Sam the lawyer who says that the contract is “iron-clad” and is often called a “vanity press” because it appeals to the vanity in hopeful writers to become published Back home Grandpa reminds them that they should have gone to the lawyer in the first place. Jason arrives to tell his parents that he has been playing with Bobby Bigelow, and have already saved nine dollars. John suggests that the whole family go to the dance that Jason is playing at in Scottsville tonight at eight o’clock.
Olivia is upset that she ignored Jason during this time. Jason invites John-Boy to the dance, where John-Boy realizes he was too caught up being the next Pulitzer Prize winning author. At the dance, Grandpa and Grandma finish their dance. Grandpa tries to dance with another woman, but Grandma pulls him away. As the family claps along with the music Skip to My Lou, Grandma tells one person that the redheaded singer is their grandson Jason, and Grandpa adds, “WALTON”. Later, Olivia apologizes to Jason for ignoring him, but Jason says she couldn’t possibly be everywhere at once. She feels better, and they hug each other.
John-Boy enters his writing class late and has no time to explain to Prof Parks before being interviewed by Tim Collins for the radio program. He is forced to admit, while being recorded, what really happened. John-Boy admits being so self important that he’s not sure how his family and classmates could have put up with him. John-Boy returns home and finds his family listening to his interview. John tells his son that he said some good things. On another day, the children launch their new boat, and welcome John-Boy to join them in their nautical adventure.
"The scars of that first disappointment were a long time in healing, but they did heal. The best medicine as always was the sympathy and understanding of my family, and a ridiculous little row-boat that went a long way in helping me to forget".
Jason: John-Boy, now that I'm making money I can help you out with that bill for the books.
John-Boy: No, Jason, I'm going to pay for that myself.
Jason: Sure now? Glad to help out.
John-Boy: No really Jason, but thank you.
John-Boy: Uh huh?
Jason: I'm kinda glad you didn't take me up on it!
John-Boy (laughing): Goodnight, Jason.
Jason: Goodnight, John-Boy.
Jim Bob received a grade of “D” on his spelling test.
John-Boy receives a grade of “B-“ on his special writing class assignment.
Majestic Press has offices at 201 North Main Street, Charlottesville, and at 3740 Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia.
John-Boy had a small terrier named Benji as a pet when he was a child.
The lyrics to the song Skip to My Lou appears at: http://www.nsknet.or.jp/~motoya/S/Skip_to_my_Lou.html.
The lyrics to the song I Wish I Was Single Again appears at: http://www.smsu.edu/folksong/maxhunter/0819/.
The lyrics to the song Little Brown Jug appears at: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/kids/lyrics/jug.htm.
The lyrics to the song Sweet Betsy from Pike appears at http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/railton/roughingit/map/wombetsy.html.
It is the autumn of 1934 (according to the introduction).
Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Professor Parks (Paul Jenkins); Mr. Andrews (Granville Van Dusen); Caspar Tice (Robert Sorrells); Mr. Sam Guffy (Garry Walberg); Timothy Collins (Gerald McRaney); Miss Webb (Julie Rogers), Mr. Carpenter (Gene Massey, Jr.), Mr. Trulock (Bruce Reasman), Miss Barstow (Kathy Cronkite), Secretary (Melissa Mahoney); Bobby Bigelow (Mayf Nutter).