Episode 20 - The Test

(5 February 1976)
Writer: Kathleen Hite.
Director: Harvey S. Laidman.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"There was one daily reality in our life on Waltons Mountain, and that was the Depression and our constant and continuing need for money. I count it remarkable that we, and others like us, were not totally defeated by hard times. The credit for that of course must go to our parents and their unique strengths, strengths that were tested almost daily".


John looks over the work that was just completed for Mr. Ed Knightley. John-Boy, Jason, Grandpa, and Ben make some final touchups to the chairs. Grandpa says that they made one extra chair. John compliments this “workers”, saying a father is obliged to say such things to his sons from time to time. Olivia finds that the fabric on Elizabeth’s doll is very nice. Elizabeth responds that the Baldwin sisters gave her the fabric. Olivia tells John that Elizabeth thinks she is the best Momma in the world. Olivia wants to go over to Martha Langley’s house and chat with her. She explains that Martha moved away to Waynesfield, Georgia, when she was fourteen years old, wishing she had a close friend her own age to talk to. John suggests he go with her to the bank after Knightly pays him.


Grandpa and John-Boy want Grandma to decide who is right: does the rocking chair need a pad or not. Grandma thinks it needs a little padding. Ben walks up with Maude Gormley, who wants to visit with Myrtle. Maude tries out the rocker and likes it very much. Maude says she is getting old. She doesn’t think it needs a cushion. John-Boy puts her feet up on the footstool. Ben brings up Myrtle, but Maude thinks the goat is punishing her for giving her away. Grandpa and John-Boy decide to give Maude the rocker in return for the enjoyment of Myrtle.


Ed Knightley drives up to the house. He tells John that the hotel cancelled the order when their boiler blew up during the night. They can’t pay him, and he can’t pay John. John thanks him for coming out. It isn’t good news. Olivia makes a doll dress out of the material that the Baldwin sister’s gave Elizabeth. John-Boy walks in after attending classes for the day. He is looking for additional work (in addition to his work at the newspaper). The family needs money. John has plenty of work, but just is having problems getting paid for the work. Olivia and Elizabeth stop at the Baldwin house to say thank you for the material they gave for Elizabeth’s doll. They have boxes and boxes of fabric from their travels with their Papa overseas: laces in France; silks from China, others from India and Egypt. Miss Mamie and Miss Emily admire the work that Olivia did on the dress. They ask if she would fashion some of their materials into dresses, they would pay her handsomely. Olivia agrees, and they look over the treasures.


Grandma looks for Zeb, telling him that someone went into the barn, a stranger. They both go to the barn to investigate. They find Maude Gormley hiding inside behind Myrtle. She is scared because her son Leonard wants to put her in an old folks home in Westham. He is coming for her today, and she doesn’t want to go. Zeb and Esther promise to stand by her. Later, Leonard tries to convince the Waltons and Maude, but Maude likes young people over old folks. Maude finally succumbs to what her son wants. Esther flatly tells the others not to ever to that to her!


Olivia has Mary Ellen wear a dress she is sewing so she can pin it. John comes in to say that no body in Jefferson County has any work. John says that at least she is working. Later, John watches as the Baldwin sisters drive up to the house wearing their new dresses. They have just come from a Westham garden party where Stella Lewis says she can give her all the work she can handle. Olivia is very pleased, but John doesn’t seem to be that pleased with the news.


John-Boy drives Olivia to the shop of Stella Lewis: “Miss Stella Lewis Modiste”. Inside, Olivia admires the store. Stella comes out to say that she is very interested in her sewing, which is beautiful. Stella says that she has a full-time job if she wants it. Olivia thought that she would work at home, but Stella says her customers come to her store, which is were she would have to work. When Stella says she will pay twelve dollars a week, Olivia takes the job, telling John-Boy to pick her up after school. John-Boy wonders what his Daddy will say, but Olivia says they need the money.


Maude shows Grandma her new room at the nursing home. They sit and talk, but Maude doesn’t like the place, wishing she could put her arms around Myrtle. Maude wishes Esther and she could pick blackberries up on John-Boy’s Meadow. Esther remembers they put more in their mouths than in their baskets. Maude says they’ll never do it again because they have her in jail. At supper, Olivia talks on and on about how well Stella and her got along today, both like being old friends. Stella told the story when Sissy Marlowe eloped with Garland Gates (Jenny Lee Marlow’s daughter). Grandma is happy for her, but wants her to eat. Olivia finds John out on the front porch and tells him that the job is not at home, but she must work five days a week at the store. John says it’s a big change. Olivia says it is important to her to know that she can help out. John says he doesn’t like the idea of her supporting us, but admits he can’t change her now. They hug, and everything is all right.


The next day, Stella and Olivia eat lunch at the drugstore. Stella never got married, but was attracted to Ox Bodrey, and Ollie Fryer. Olivia says she was in love to their minister Rev. Perry when she was thirteen years old. John isn’t very hungry, no doubt missing his wife. Grandma says John is “lonely in a crowd”. Stella asks if Olivia was ever a member of the 4-H Club. A girl had designed a white taffeta dress with a white velvet collar with rosettes embroidered on the velvet for the county fair. Stella said the girl (it was Olivia) made such an impression on her because it was the first time she saw the beauty of design. Stella remembers all of her trips to New York and Europe. Olivia says how wonderful are John and the children. Later, Olivia tries on one of the glamorous dresses. John-Boy walks in and says how beautiful she is. Stella offers to have Olivia go with her on the buying trip to New York City: seventh avenue and the garment district. Olivia says that she couldn’t, but John-Boy says it would be a good chance for her. Olivia decides she will think about it.


Grandpa is winding his watch when John and Olivia come into the bedroom to ask Esther and Zeb a question. They wonder if they can take care of the house and children while she is gone for a week. The grandparents say they will take care of everything, liking the fact that they are needed and wanted. They think about Maude Gormley and her unfortunate situation. John is sawing as Stella drives up to the houses. Olivia introduces Stella to John. Olivia says that John says that she can go. Olivia invites her to supper, wanting to see all the family and the Mountain. As John and John-Boy work Maude Gormley drives up in Abel Bingley’s ice truck. Grandma can’t believe it’s her. Maude says she “flew the coop” saying that if Leonard likes the home so much then he can live there. Grandma feels like she broke out of the home with her. Jim Bob and Elizabeth get some ice from Abel. Stella drinks coffee with the family and has a big announcement for Olivia. She wants Olivia to take over the shop in Westham while she opens another shop in Richmond. John-Boy walks her to her car.


Olivia can’t sleep that night (it’s ten minutes after four in the morning). She gets up and walks downstairs. She looks over the living room, tries out Jim Bob’s yo-yo, and plays a couple notes on the piano. She picks up Elizabeth’s doll, unable to decide what to with regards to Stella’s offer. John comes downstairs to find out that Olivia wishes this whole situation never happened. John refuses to make the decision for her. They go back upstairs. In the morning John-Boy waits to take his mother to the shop. She tries to decide what dress to wear. John-Boy gets impatient, saying he’ll get to class late, probably end up on skid row by the age of twenty-two. Olivia hugs Grandma. Esther says she and Maude are going into the forest to pick blackberries. Olivia tells John-Boy to go on without her. Olivia decides not to go into Stella’s shop. They hug and kiss as Grandma goes off to Maude’s. John says, “We’re smooching, Ma.” Grandma responds, “In broad day light!”


"There were other peaks and valleys for our family during the remainder of the Depression, but it seems now as if each testing was a strengthening of our regard for each other. Our family unity would not permit us to be defeated. Downed and struggling sometimes but never defeated".


Elizabeth: John-Boy?
John-Boy: Yes Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: Is a Typhoon a rich man?
Jim Bob: That's dumb, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: I'm talking to John-Boy.
John-Boy: Honey a Tycoon is a rich man a typhoon is a big wind.
Elizabeth: I guess I'd rather be a Tycoon, a lady Tycoon.
Jim Bob: I'd rather be Ty Cobb.
John-Boy: I'd rather be asleep. 'Night Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: 'Night John-Boy. Goodnight Jim Bob, - or whoever you'd rather be.....
John-Boy & Jim Bob: Goodnight......



Martha Langley was a close friend of Olivia’s when she was fourteen years old. She moved to Waynesfield, Georgia.

Maude Gormley’s son is Leonard.

Elizabeth is ten years old, according to Olivia.

Stella Lewis owns “Miss Stella Lewis Modiste”, a fashionable dressmaker shop in Westham.


Also appearing:

Ike (Joe Conley); Miss Emily & Miss Mamie Baldwin (Mary Jackson & Helen Kleeb); Maude Gormley (Merie Earle); Leonard Gormley (John Wheeler); Stella Lewis (Abby Dalton); Ed Knightley (James O’Connell); Abel Bingley (David Clarke); The Waitress (Nancy Gallant).