Episode 2 - The Calling

(28 September 1978)
Writer: Kathleen Hite.
Director: Gwen Arner.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"Our years of containment as a family unit were growing to a close in 1941. Everywhere there was a new mobility. New and different people found their way to Waltons Mountain to touch and shape the lives of our family, bringing customs and beliefs that were foreign to us. One such encounter had a special meaning for my brother, Jim Bob".


The Baldwin sisters drive their first cousin’s daughter Mary Francis Conover to their home for a visit. While walking up the front steps Mary Francis notices a kite flying high in the sky and comments that ‘even a kite needs a mooring, or it has no purpose’. Jim Bob is on the other end of the kite until it becomes entangled high in a tree. Mary Francis climbs the tree in order to retrieve the wayward flyer while Jim Bob follows his string to find her stuck in the branches. Jim Bob rescues her but is not very concerned about his damaged kite, now that he is standing love-struck on a tree branch.


Ben buys supplies from Renshaw & Sons, getting help loading them into the truck by Beau Pauley. Beau needs a job so Ben hires the personable young man. He seems to be a hard worker who likes to continually sing Old Man Tucker. However, after Ben takes supper inside, Pauley sneaks several large gulps of liquor from his hidden bottle.


Mary Francis prays near the water’s shore when Olivia walks up behind her to dig ferns. Olivia comments that the Mountain is a good place to think things through. She asks, ‘Do you pray?’ whereupon Olivia answers, ‘All the time.’ The girl then asks, ‘Do you always get an answer?’ Olivia states, ‘In God’s time.’


John and Olivia bring Grandpa’s chair out in the porch so Grandma can sit and watch the fireflies at night. While Mary Ellen feeds her son Jim Bob walks down the stairs smelling like cheap perfume. To the surprise of the family he says he is going to the library. He doesn’t tell them he is going with Mary Francis to learn about kites. Jim Bob stop at Ike’s for three gallons of gas while his date inquires if a letter has arrived for her. Corabeth learns that she attends school at a Catholic convent. When Corabeth learns from Ike that Jim Bob is with her she says, ‘Jim Bob is going out with THAT Catholic girl?’


At the convent, Sister Scholastica and Sister Theresa prepare to drive to Richmond in order to run an errand for Mother Superior. At the fork in the road, the adventuresome Sister Scholastica takes the least traveled road that will lead them on a picturesque detour to Waltons Mountain.


Before Sunday services, Corabeth warns Olivia that Mary Francis is Catholic and dating Jim Bob. Olivia sternly tells her that she already knows this information and asks Corabeth to pray for understanding.


Jim Bob and Mary Francis fly a kite using the information they gained at the library. Later, they talk about dreams. Mary Francis wonders how Jim Bob can be so sure about wanting to be a pilot. Jim Bob is obviously lovesick when he admits to Mary Francis that he thinks about her all the time.


At Ike’s store, Corabeth gossips about the pending invasion of Catholics into the area. Rev. Buchanan does not agree with her assumption but states that if it should happen would welcome the additional religious competition. Suddenly the two Catholic sisters enter the store, complete with their habit, looking for the Baldwin house. While Mary Francis talks with Sister Scholastica about her indecision on becoming a nun, Sister Theresa talks with Miss Mamie and Miss Emily over a cup of tea (presumably without the recipe).


Ben and Beau go out for the evening and end up at the Dew Drop Inn. After drinking too much Beau is thrown out by Jason. Ben decides to drive Beau back to the house so he can keep an eye on his inebriated friend. In the middle of the night Beau wakes up with a craving for more alcohol. Disoriented he nearly destroys the mill looking for his bottle. Finding his stash Beau wanders away. In the morning John finds the mill a shambles and insists that Ben fire the drunk. Ben investigates Beau’s past employment history, finding he begins each job as a good worker but eventually the bottle destroys his performance. Ben gives Beau his walking papers along with a week’s wages. He eyes the money in the envelope then begins singing Old Dan Tucker while walking down the road he has traveled before.


Olivia sees Jim Bob staring off into space. He admits being in love with Mary Francis but unable to speak to her about his feelings. Olivia suggests a letter instead. In the meantime Mary Francis writes a letter to Jim Bob but Sister Scholastica feels a decision of such importance deserves the spoken word. The two meet where Mary Francis tells Jim Bob she is returning to the convent. Like his dream to be a pilot she has realized her calling. Jim Bob presents Mary Francis the letter he wrote professing his love to her. With a kiss on his cheek, Mary Francis says goodbye. With a broken heart, Jim Bob runs off by himself.


"The pain of that time stayed with Jim Bob longer than any of us would have liked. But as it is with any lost love, a healing of the heart takes place and life becomes a thing of wonder again".


Elizabeth: Ben?
Ben: Yes Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: What did you do with that hat like Beau had?
Ben: I threw it away.
Elizabeth: I wish I had it.
Ben: I thought you wanted one like Sister Scolasticus?
Elizabeth: That wasn't a hat, that was a habit.
Ben: Yes that's what Beau had - a bad one.....
Elizabeth: Goodnight Ben.


Mary Francis Conover and her mother visited the Baldwin residence eight years ago. Mary Francis is now seventeen years old.

The license plates on Jim Bob’s car are 485-279 Virginia.

The Catholic convent where Mary Francis attends school is located in Stanton, Virginia.

The license plates on the Catholic sister’s car are 137-420 Virginia.

The lyrics for “Old Man Tucker” can be found at: http://expage.com/Pointhome



Also appearing: Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Sister Scholastica (Jeanette Nolan); Sister Theresa (Mitzi Hoag); Beau Pauley (Bruce French); Mary Francis Conover (Stacey Nelkin); Rev. Hank Buchanan (Peter Fox); John-Curtis Willard (Michael and Marshall Reed)