Episode 1 - The First Edition

(23 September 1976)
Writer: John McGreevey.
Director: Lawrence Dobkin.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"I believe that in our family all of us children were sparked to do our best whatever we tried, for two reasons. There was the personal satisfaction we felt, of course, but, just as important we knew that the whole family would take pride in the success of any one of us. But then a day came when I had to face the fact that a goal I had set for myself, was threatening to disgrace and divide the family".


The Blue Ridge Chronicle is headquartered in the Walton shed. John-Boy and Ben go into Rockfish so that John-Boy can visit Sheriff Bridges. He is looking for a “grabber” article for the inaugural issue. Ben is selling ads when some of his friends ask him to shoot some pool. Suddenly, a car erratically drives through the streets and careens into a local business, the soda shop. People come from everywhere to find out what happened to Judge Thornbury, the driver of the car. The Sheriff and John-Boy get there first, while Mrs. Brimmer tells them what happened. John-Boy takes notes from Mrs. Brimmer. Ep tells the Judge that John Walton has just started a new paper. John-Boy talks with Ep about the situation, where John-Boy thinks he was drunk. Ep says that he shouldn’t be too rough on the judge, since he has a lot of things on his mind.


Olivia and Grandma visit Ike’s store. Olivia wants ten cents worth of cloves, but Ike can’t figure out where Corabeth moved the spices. They have a mild argument in front of the Walton women. Corabeth says she is being humiliated in front of her family. Corabeth says she doesn’t always know what she is doing these days. Ike thanks Olivia and Grandma for having tea with his wife because she is happy one moment and then crying her eyes out the next. Corabeth tells the ladies that she is pregnant. Esther giggles a bit, not quite believing it. But, Corabeth tells her she is very sure about it, after saying that Dr. McIvers is almost sure she is having a baby. Olivia says that she envies her, and Grandma says that she be careful, being so high-strung.


Grandpa doesn’t believe that John-Boy should announce to the community about the incident with Thornbury. John-Boy says he has to honestly print the news. John and Grandpa agree that thinking that the truth is simple has another thing coming. John-Boy tries to coordinate his helpers: Jason, Ben, Jim Bob, Elizabeth, and maybe even Reckless. Jim Bob wants to be called James Robert. Erin comes in with an article, wanting it to be in the front page. But, John-Boy says world news and more important local news will be on the front page. They run into Reckless and spill the letters of the press. The family discusses how the Godsey’s life style will change with a new baby. Ben announces that he is going over to Rockfish with his friends. Olivia and John think that Rockfish is a bad influence for a young boy. Ben wants to know why Rockfish is so evil. Grandpa pipes up that he has been trying to answer that question for sixty years. John-Boy decides to use the quote of Marcus Aurelius for the newspaper’s masthead: “The search for the truth by which the good man never gets harmed.” John says, “of course, finding the truth, that’s another matter.” John-Boy says, “They can’t shoot me for trying, but John responds, “We’ll see about that.”


John and Grandpa see Judge Thornbury drive up to see John-Boy. He inspects the home of the Blue Ridge Chronicle, and wonders if they can spare a few minutes. Thornbury says that John-Boy is ambitious and practical, hoping that he will not waste any space on the paper for his little mishap. John-Boy stands by he view that any unusual occurrence by a public figure is important news. Thornbury thinks he is taking himself too seriously, knowing he is not the New York Times or even the Charlottesville Progress. John-Boy tells him that he is not in their league but has something in common with them: integrity. Thornbury asks him to do him a personal favor and to forget the story. John-Boy asks him if the driver were a farmer, would he be here asking the same thing of him? Thornbury silently walks away, and asks John to talk some sense into him. But, John says he isn’t going to tell him what to write in his paper. Zeb goes along with his family’s stand.


Corabeth tries on a maternity smock for Olivia and Esther, saying she has put on some weight. She was spent hours looking over things for the baby, and redoing the baby’s room. Ike, John, and Zeb talk about names for the baby, such as Ginger (for Ginger Rogers), and Ike Junior. The family sits in the living room on Saturday night as two boys (Wally and Joe) wait for a double date for Mary Ellen and Erin. Ben and John-Boy go to Rockfish. Elizabeth wonders why she has to stay with the old people when all the others get to go out.


Ben finds his friends standing outside the pool hall. One suggests a game of poker, and using the Garrettson’s house while they are away on vacation. He is mowing their yard, and has the key. He finally convinces all the boys to go to the house. Back home, John finds Olivia is feeling a little bit like Elizabeth. They hug and kiss. The boys enter the house, but Ben is hesitant to do so. John-Boy drives up to the pool hall in a carriage pulled by a horse and driven by Ed. Across the street is the bakery, which is next door to the soda shop. John-Boy finds that Ep is going out on a report of a possible break-in, and goes along with him. Ike and Corabeth work on the baby’s room. Ike asks Corabeth to start calling him “Ike”, instead of “Mr. Godsey”.


Ep and John-Boy caught the boys coming out of the house. John-Boy spots Ben. Ep tells John-Boy and John that breaking and entering is a felony, possibly earning a man one to five years in the state penitentiary. John signs papers to release Ben. At home, the family question Ben about what happened. Olivia is furious, saying that Ben has been put in jail like a common criminal. Olivia tells Ben that he will come straight home from school, and will not be going out on school nights, and will not be selling advertisement to the paper. John-Boy thinks it is unfair to blame him.


John finds Corabeth walking along the side of the road with her suitcase. She is crying, wanting to be taken to see Esther and Olivia. She settles down as she explains that she is not really pregnant, and never will be pregnant. Olivia reaches out to Corabeth, who says she is no use to Ike. She decides to leave and go back to Doe Hill. Just then there is a knock on the front door. Olivia finds Ike at the door. He says that the doctor told him what happened. Olivia says that she doesn’t want to see him right now.


In the morning, John-Boy finds Ike sleeping on the porch. He finds John, Olivia, Grandpa, and Grandma having coffee. Zeb fetches Ike inside for coffee and biscuits. Zeb wonders if Corabeth is up yet. John says that she wants to be taken to the bus station for Doe Hill. Olivia goes upstairs for a talk with her. Olivia questions how she is treating Ike, someone who loves her. He is going to be hurt and alone, and so will she. Olivia said that when they got married they agreed to share the good and the bad. Corabeth agrees to see Ike, and Olivia tells Ike to go upstairs. Ben says it is his fault. Ben passes the biscuits to Grandpa, and Ben and Olivia kiss (he is forgiven). Ike says that they still have what they have before, it wasn’t perfect, but it could be made better. Ike pleads with her not to leave him, doesn’t want to face being alone again. She comforts her husband.


John-Boy tells his mother and father that he is going to compromise on the two articles (Ben’s arrest and the Judge’s car accident). He is going to place both articles on the back of the paper (bury them). John tells Olivia that they have raised their children not to hide the truth. They take a walk, John telling her that, “they have been through fire, pestilence, drought, Civil War, and the World War. I don’t think some story in a backwoods newspaper is going to finish us off.” John-Boy finds Ben testing the front-page stories on him and Thornbury. Ben tells John-Boy that he thinks both stories should be on the front page.


The first edition of the Blue Ridge Chronicle is born.


"In spite of all the obstacles and handicaps my brother and I finally did manage to put the first edition of The Blue Ridge Chronicle 'to bed', as they say in the newspaper business. With the publication of that first edition I embarked upon a whole new adventure in my life. As usual, I had the help and support of my family. They shared my pride and my sense of accomplishment. But most of all, we shared the knowledge that rather than dividing or estranging our family, the conflict we had just come through seemed to give us a new respect for the different ways each of us could work for what all of us wanted".


Elizabeth: Daddy?
John: What is it honey?
Elizabeth: I'm thinking about next Saturday night.
John: Fretting about being the only one with no place to go?
Elizabeth: Uh hum.
John: Tell you what. Maybe you and me and your Mama could go into Rockfish for an ice cream soda. Would that help?
Elizabeth: Oh yes Daddy, and there's one other thing - I wish all the other children would stay home while I get to go out.....
John: You're gonna have to speak to them about that, honey.
Elizabeth: Goodnight Daddy.
John: Goodnight Elizabeth.



Michael McDonough, who plays Joe, might be a brother of Mary (Erin Walton) McDonough.

John-Boy is limping with a cane, saying it was caused by a motorcycle accident.

Information about Marcus Aurelius can be found at: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02109a.htm.


Also appearing:

Ike & Corabeth Godsey (Joe Conley & Ronnie Claire Edwards); Graham Thornbury (Conrad Janis); Mrs. Brimmer (Nora Marlowe); Sheriff Bridges (John Crawford); Mr. Lowenthal (Hal Riddle); Louie (Meegan King); Tinker (Laird Fenwick); Joe (Michael McDonough); Chuck (Brad Rearden); Wally (Rick Meyer).