Episode 9: The Ceremony


(First USA telecast: 9 November 1972)

Writer: Nigel McKeeand.

Director: Vincent Sherman.

Music: Jerry Goldsmith.


The Ceremony


"When I was growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during the Depression of the 1930s times were often difficult and unsure, but I don't think any of us ever realised how safe and secure our lives really were until that summer when a family arrived on Waltons Mountain from Germany".


A rarely seen taxi drives past John-Boy, Mary Ellen, Jason, and Ben as they walk along the road. A taxi from the ‘Charlottesville Cab Co.’ stops in front of Ike’s store where a man and woman emerge and walk inside. Ike greets the couple, finding out they are Professor and Mrs. Mann, friends of Dr. Harris from Richmond. Dr. Harris has arranged through Ike to loan them his summer cottage. The four Waltons walk up to the taxi knowing that it cost much money for the ride. The boy inside tells them that the cost was seven dollars, fifty cents. John-Boy introduces himself and his siblings to Paul, the couples’ son. But the father, who wishes to be left alone, cuts their conversation short.


The Waltons ask Ike many questions about the family. Ike tells them that the father worked as a professor at Berlin University and they are staying at the Harris cottage. Ike also tells them about the problems in Germany since Hitler took power. At the cottage Prof. Mann tells his wife and son that they will be polite but will not make friends, and will speak English, not German. At the supper table the Waltons discuss the new family. Jim Bob and Elizabeth think they are spies. John-Boy believes Paul is a few years younger than Jason, but that his eyes show a look beyond his own age. Olivia decides to bring them applesauce cake tomorrow.


On the radio the family listen to the persecutions that the Jews are enduring under the domination of Adolph Hitler. John-Boy becomes upset when he hears that thousands of books are being burned, and says, “Burning books is like burning people. Why would people do such craziness?” John talks about how Hitler wants a ‘master race’, but John-Boy doesn’t understand how the family can be so calm when books are being burned.


The next day Ben and Jim Bob shoot slingshots near the Mann’s cottage while the family unpacks possessions. Jim Bob accidentally sends one of his rocks off course, breaking one of the Mann’s windows. David and Eva fall to the floor, believing they are being targeted as German Jews. The professor asks, “Why won’t they leave us alone?” Ben and Jim Bob run away. Soon Olivia, Mary Ellen, and Erin walk up to the house with their present. The Mann’s pretend to not be home, not sure who is outside. With no answer at the door the threesome leave, but not before Erin sees Paul peering out from his window.


Later Paul returns with John-Boy, inviting him to meet his parents. When they find the parents still shopping at the store, they look for books that Paul found in the attic. But when John-Boy reaches for books on a chair, its leg breaks forcing John-Boy to fall onto Paul. Just then Professor and Mrs. Mann enter to find John-Boy leaning over their son. Professor Mann becomes irate, forcing John-Boy out of his house. That night John learns what happened. Knowing his son is upset John tells John-Boy to clear up the misunderstanding.


The next morning David Mann repairs the windowpane while Paul sits silently. Paul’s father apologizes for the incident. David explains that some people need other people to blame for their bad times. He tells his family that they can no longer be Jewish, and must not observe Jewish rituals. Paul’s father tells him that they will not observe his bar mitzvah. Just then John-Boy knocks on the Mann’s door. When Prof. Mann answers John-Boy tells him that he had no right to yell at him and that his feelings were hurt. The professor explains that his son told him what really happened and apologizes to John-Boy.


The children pull Reckless up a tree with a body harness. John-Boy forces the kids to return the dog to the ground. Paul remarks that he would like a dog and a tree house. The group climbs into their tree house where they discuss Paul’s upcoming birthday. Paul explains how his 13th birthday is so important to a Jew. After explaining the Jewish beliefs the children don’t think there is much difference from being a Baptist. Paul says one difference is his bar mitzvah, when he becomes a man. He unhappily admits his father refuses to let him celebrate.


Later, John-Boy picks up Paul so he can talk with a rabbi in Charlottesville. That night the family eats supper when they are interrupted with a knock on the door. The Mann’s are wondering where their son is, hoping he would be with John-Boy. The children finally admit that Paul is with John-Boy. Just then the truck drives up after the pair are delayed with a flat tire. When Professor Mann asks Paul where he has been, Paul admits that he saw a rabbi. The professor denies knowing what his son is talking about. Paul runs away, unwilling to further deny his religion. John-Boy runs after him, eventually having to rescue Paul after falling into the water. Back home, Paul recovers in bed. His mother describes to the family the horrors they faced in Germany. She realizes the family already knew they were Jewish. Olivia says that they “didn’t give it any never-mind”. When Eva says that windows in the house were broken when they first moved in, Grandpa observes Ben and Jim Bob quickly run upstairs.


Grandpa decides to talk with Professor Mann the next day. Grandpa admits his two grandsons accidentally broke their window and will pay the expense. He describes his heritage on Walton’s Mountain and Professor Mann’s Jewish heritage. Grandpa tells the man that he must stand up for his beliefs. When Grandpa asks him if he is ashamed to be Jewish, Mann explains that they have to survive. Grandpa wonders what he will feel inside if he denies his very existence. Eva thanks Grandpa for talking with them.


Eva brings Paul (who is recovering at the Walton house) the items he needs for his bar mitzvah. She is not sure if Paul’s father will attend. During the ceremony held at the house David Mann walks up to the house with a present. John-Boy convinces him to give his son the present. When he walks into the house, Paul is very happy that his father will attend. Professor Mann tells the audience that his faith in people has been restored. He especially thanks Grandpa Walton for reminding him of who and what he is, and promises Grandpa and his son that he will never forget.


"By the end of that summer Professor Mann had found a position in the History Department of a University in a nearby town. That was nearly 40 years ago, but the house in which we grew up is still there and my mother lives in it today. Often I go there in memory and hear again those voices from long ago".


Ben: Mama?

Olivia: Yes, Ben.

Ben: How did Jews get to be Jews, and Baptists get to be Baptists?

Olivia: By following in their fathers footsteps.

Ben: If we follow in Daddy's footsteps what would we be?

Olivia: You'll be a fine man. (whispers) John?

John: Huh.

Olivia: When are you going to get yourself baptised?

John: Now Livy, this is no time of night to start that......

Olivia: Goodnight.

John: 'Night honey.



The setting is summer in the 1930s.

The telephone number of the Charlottesville Cab Company is “257”.

A “bar mitzvah” is the ceremony that initiates and recognizes a 13-year-old Jewish male to be considered an adult and responsible for his moral and religious duties.

Ellen Geer, who played Eva Mann, is Will Geer’s daughter. Additional information on Ellen can be found at: http://www.beautyandthebeastfanclub.net/main/tributes/mary/mary.html.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley), Professor David Mann (Noah Keen), Eva Mann (Ellen Geer), Paul Mann (Radames Pera), Rabbi (Saul Silverman).


(synopsis written by William Atkins and edited by Arthur Dungate)