Episode 13 - The Beginning

(5 March 1981)
Writer: Kathleen Hite.
Director: Lawrence Dobkin.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"The pattern of our lives was broken by the war and the old ways of the past became less a part of us when we returned home. So long as our mother and grandmother were there to shepherd us, the church was central to our lives. But without them on the scene some of the family found it easy to backslide, and as interest in the church slipped away it didn't seem possible that events would join to bring them back again".


A stranger enters the abandoned First Baptist Church on a dark, windy night. Seeing a total disregard for the church the stranger rings its bell to wake the congregation. Hearing the sound, the Walton family investigates, as do Ike, Corabeth, the Baldwin sisters, and other citizens. They confront the stranger who says, “Your house of God is in a sorry state”. To their disbelief, Tom Marshall announces he is their new minister. Jason faces the new minister, asking him if he always starts this way. Tom says, “I don’t know, it’s my first church.”


The next morning, the family discusses the church and their lax religious behaviors as of late. Miss Mamie and Miss Emily are about to leave for the church when Jason and Toni arrive. Jason asks Toni how long she is staying at the Baldwin house. She says, “Until I move in with you.” Jason responds, “I never should have allowed you to establish a beachhead.”


Corabeth investigates the credentials of their new minister at the church office in Richmond, Virginia. She learns that he graduated with honors from divinity school and was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star during the war. Corabeth believes he needs her help to show him his way in the community.


At the church, Miss Emily confides in Tom Marshall that her sister has sent away for a pet bird. As Tom, Elizabeth, Miss Mamie, and Miss Emily work on the church, Ben, Jason, Ike and Corabeth arrive. Tom remarks, “It’s a beginning!” Back home, Toni informs the family about all the domestic talents she has, making for a wonderful wife. As the family gathers for supper, Jason off-handedly tells the family for the first time that Toni is Jewish. The family is stunned by the remark, not sure what to say next. Toni runs away from the table, unable to deal with their silence. Jason chases after her, realizing how his remarks affected both the woman and family he loves. Toni drives off, coming across Tom Marshall outside the church. She vents her anger at the minister, but is unwilling to discuss her problems.


At the Baldwin house, Jason talks with Toni, but neither knows what to do. Jason apologizes for his family. Toni admits she never has studied her religion. Both wonder what make them Baptist and Jew. At the same time, Ben and Cindy discuss how marriages of different religious backgrounds have caused rifts in marriage and families.


Ike and Tom Marshall stand at the store counter when Miss Mamie enters hoping that her sister’s surprise has arrived. Ike says it has arrived. Tom is surprised to find it’s a dog, not a bird. He joins Miss Mamie in the surprise to Miss Emily. At the Baldwin house, Miss Emily and Rose discuss the living arrangement of their new pastor. Just then, Miss Mamie, Tom, and the dog enter the room, with the dog jumping on to Miss Emily. She is confused that it is not a bird, but as ‘Dickey’ licks her face, she warms up to her new pet.


Tom Marshall is reviewing his sermon when Toni overhears. She talks to Tom about her problem with the Walton’s. Toni tells Tom that she calls herself a Jew but says, “Shouldn’t I know what that means?” Tom gives her a book written by Rabbi Nathan Leavitt, whom he met while in the military. Just then, Corabeth arrives to give him insight on providing for the needs of the community.


At the Baldwin house, Jason brings Toni flowers. She says the book that she is reading is helping her find answers to questions about being a Jew. Jason understands and supports her investigations. They kiss, finding it to be like a ‘first kiss’.


Miss Mamie and Miss Emily bring Dickey into the store. Corabeth tells the sisters she is upset about Toni being Jewish, thinking they don’t know. But, the Baldwin’s say they have already had many stimulating conversations with her about religion.


On Sunday, Jason plays the church organ while Toni enters the chapel. The family observes that Jason sits with Toni, assuming he’s made his decision to be with her, not the family. After services, Jason takes Toni on a picnic up on the Mountain. At Grandpa’s gravesite, Jason asks Toni to marry him. But she refuses, not wanting to separate him from his family. At the Dew Drop Inn, Ben confronts Jason about his decision. Jason pushes Ben down to the floor, but says that he is sorry and reaches out his hand. Ben takes his hand. Jason then runs out, hoping to convince Toni that their problem can be solved. They agree to find their answers together. Ringing the church bell, they announce to the community that they are getting married.


"It was a joyous night for Jason and Toni, the problems which they faced together were made smoother by the family, and by old friends who grew more interested in the things that brought them together, than those that might separate them. Truly, it was a beginning".


Jim Bob: That's the last bell ringing I'm going to, have you all got that?
Mary Ellen: Sure, Jim Bob, go to sleep.
Jim Bob: I keep thinking the British are coming, it kinda gives me a headache.
Mary Ellen: Take an aspirin.
Jim Bob: I've just remembered, no more bells.
(bell rings) Elizabeth: What's that?
Jim Bob: My alarm clock?
Mary Ellen and Elizabeth (together): Goodmorning Jim Bob!



Tom Marshall is introduced in this episode as the new minister of the First Baptist Church. Tom was previously an Army Chaplin in the 107th Europe, while Jason was in the 72nd.

Toni Hazelton’s parents were killed.

The license plates on Toni Hazelton’s car are 37-853 VA.

Tom Marshall is invited to the home of Steve, Marcy, and Amber for supper on Wednesday.

Miss Mamie gives Miss Emily a pet dog named Dickey.


Also appearing:

Ike and Corabeth Godsey (Joe Conley and Ronnie Claire Edwards), Miss Mamie and Miss Emily Baldwin (Helen Kleeb and Mary Jackson), Rose Burton (Peggy Rea), Cindy Walton (Leslie Winston), Toni Hazelton (Lisa Harrison), Rev. Tom Marshall (Kip Niven).