Writer: Joanna Lee.
Director: Jack Shea.
Music: Arthur Morton.
"Growing up with my brothers and sisters on Walton’s Mountain was a joyful experience, but not always an easy one. Privacy was hard to come by, and as a young man trying to write; it was the one thing I needed which I almost never had. I will always remember that day when I left, a young boy anxious to find some time for himself, and returned a man who had partaken of a miracle".
Activities abound around the Walton house as Mary Ellen finds John-Boy in his room writing an article for a Richmond magazine that is trying to help new writers. Mary Ellen needs her brother to build a pen for her new lamb, Daisy. John-Boy finally relents, building the pen as Mary Ellen feeds the newborn animal. Afterwards, Jason and Ben ask John-Boy for help in building a soapbox racer for the school festival. At supper Grandpa asks for mashed potatoes as Ben complains of not feeling well. Olivia finds her son burning up with fever. Grandpa indicates that “considerable fever” is going around. Olivia asks John to go for the doctor. Doc Vance says that Ben has a light case of fever, but to keep him isolated. John-Boy agrees to give up his room, and move into the boys’ room.
John and Olivia rest on the sofa, both weary from the day. John begins to kiss his wife, with Olivia concerned that the children will see them. Jason and Jim-Bob talk about the color to paint their racer while John-Boy tries to write. Unable to concentrate John-Boy walks to the barn for some quiet, but finds Mary Ellen singing her lamb to sleep with the lyrics “And if that mockingbird don't sing, Mama's going to buy you a diamond ring.” John-Boy becomes angry with Mary Ellen, unable to find a quiet place to write. He storms into the house, telling his parents and grandparents that he is going up to the old Montgomery place in the morning to do some writing. John hesitates, knowing the bridge on the path to the cabin often washes away during storms. But Olivia surprisingly thinks John-Boy should go. Grandpa agrees, saying a man “should meet up with his feelings”.
In the morning John-Boy is sent off on his journey, with Ben feeling better, poking his head out of the bedroom window. John-Boy walks through a meadow and on to Granny Ketchum’s place, finding her talking with her mule Old Blue who has wandered into her sage patch. John-Boy leads the animal out of the garden. John-Boy asks her if she is feeling poorly. The old woman says, “Do you hear that rose complaining when it withers on the vine. It needs to make room for the new vines.” John-Boy crosses the covered bridge, then pauses at a stone fireplace from a burned out cabin with a storm fast approaching. Reaching the Montgomery place, John-Boy finds Sarah Jane Simmons appearing out from the darkened corner. She explains that she ran away from the Kabuli’s in Richmond, after her mother made them her legal guardian, hoping to provide her daughter with an education in exchange for work. Sarah Jane confesses that the arrangement turned to be all work.
Back at the Walton house, the family prepares for the upcoming storm. Grandpa tells Jim Bob that rain is good for the garden; with Jim Bob concerned about his tomato plants after telling Jimmy Alexander that he’s going to win a prize at the festival. At the cabin John-Boy starts a fire while Sarah Jane tells him about her husband Riley O’Connor. She opens her coat to show John-Boy that she is pregnant, then states that she ran off after the Kabuli’s threatened to put the baby up for adoption. Sarah Jane says that her husband is in Norfolk, looking for work at the WPA project after getting laid off from his job. Sarah Jane insists on staying at the cabin, unwilling to return to her mother who would not understand. John-Boy realizes that she is burning up with the fever.
Ike waits on Marion as Widow Simmons enters the store. Ike gives Marjorie a letter from the Kabuli’s. As she reads the letter Olivia walks into the store. Marjorie admits to Olivia that Sarah Jane has run off, and that she feels guilty, only wanting to give her daughter a better life. John-Boy walks to Granny Ketchum’s house, needing medicine for Sarah Jane. At the Walton house Olivia and Grandma drink tea with Marjorie as she confesses that her daughter has “gotten into trouble”. John-Boy is given medicine from Granny Ketchum, who says that she lost her husband and daughter to the fever thirty years ago. The woman gives John-Boy her mule to ride back to the cabin. John-Boy brews tea from the bark that Granny Ketchum gave him. Unable to awaken Sarah Jane, John-Boy slaps her in the face, finally able to spoon her the tea.
John tells Marjorie that she will have to stay the night, unable to start the truck and the roads too muddy for travel. The children prepare for bed. Elizabeth says a prayer for John-Boy’s safety. In the morning, Sarah Jane awakens to find her fever has broken. While eating some food that John-Boy prepared, she comments that, “you’ll make someone a wonderful husband”. They reminisce about their first date, her proposing to him in the back of the truck and her running off with the Claypool boy. Sarah Jane returns to bed, feeling weak again. In the morning Grandpa and Jim Bob find a tree branch has fallen onto their tomato plants. Grandpa suggests that Jim Bob pick up the ripe tomatoes and help Grandma make some of her tomato preserves. John-Boy awakens to hear Sarah Jane ready to give birth. He wants to run to Granny Ketchum, who is a mid-wife, but Sarah Jane says there is little time left. John-Boy reassures Sarah Jane that he will be able to deliver her baby, having only recently helped in the birth of a lamb.
Over breakfast Marjorie finds out that John-Boy is staying at the old Montgomery place. Knowing that her daughter often visited the place, she feels that Sarah Jane may be there. At the same time John-Boy helps Sarah Jane give birth to her daughter. John-Boy wraps the baby in a cloth and gives her to Sarah Jane. John-Boy leads the mule back to the house (with Sarah Jane riding on top with her newborn daughter). Olivia, Marjorie, and the rest of the family learn that John-Boy delivered the baby. Marjorie learns that her daughter is married and that her husband is looking for work in Washington D.C. John-Boy wonders why she earlier said the city was Richmond. John tells his son that Granny Ketchum died early this morning and left him Old Blue. Later, John-Boy reads poetry to Grandma and Olivia, saying the verses talk about Sarah and Granny Ketchum. The children run in showing that Mary Ellen won first prize, Jim Bob a white ribbon (third prize), Elizabeth an honorable mention, Erin a second prize, while Jason and Ben won nothing because the wheel fell off their racer. John-Boy agrees to help the children with their various jobs, deciding to think more about what to write in his article.
"We were early risers, and thus in my Grandfather's words ‘we went to bed with the chickens’. All the lights in the house would go out, except for the one in my room. There, I would at last find the solitude to record in my journal the events of the day. The wind would flow gently down from the mountain, the night birds would fall still, and the rest of the family would slip quietly towards sleep".
Olivia: Yes, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: How do babies get born?
Olivia: With love, darling.
Elizabeth: Goodnight, Mama.
Daisy, Mary Ellen’s newborn lamb, lost her mother.
The WPA stands for Works Progress Administration. Information about the WPA can be found at: http://www.interment.net/column/records/wpa/wpa_history.htm.
Mary Ellen sings to Daisy, the lamb, the song Hush, Little Baby. Go to http://www.kididdles.com/mouseum/h012.html for the song’s lyrics.
Ike Godsey (Joe Conley), Dr. Vance (Victor Isay), Granny Ketchum (Frances E. Williams); Sarah Jane Simmons (Sissy Spacek); Mrs. Marjorie Simmons (Allyn Anne McLerie).
(synopsis written by William Atkins and edited by Arthur Dungate)