Episode 12 - The Milestone

(8 December 1977)
Writer: Kathleen Hite.
Director: Philip Leacock.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"There is a special niche in memory where a child places his parents, a place in time where they are never younger, never older, a time when they are changeless. For me that memory is of many years ago, and no matter what came after, they are forever young".


Olivia is visibly upset at the music coming from Jason’s piano playing. She asks him to stop but with no place else to practice Jason continues. Olivia can’t stand the noise any more and erupts in anger. She runs out of the house after a drinking glass slips from her hands and smashes to the floor. When John asks her what is wrong Olivia says she wants to be left alone. Walking to church Elizabeth talks to her sisters about the party she is planning. When she inquires about the dress her mother promised to make, Olivia does not remember the dress or even the party. Mary Ellen tells her mother that they were present when Elizabeth was told she could plan the party. Olivia walks away upset. She wanders until reaching the water’s shore where John finds her. Olivia admits she feels ‘a long way from home’ and needs to be a child again.


At dinner, John tell the children to be extra considerate toward their mother who is feeling tired. When Mary Ellen talks with Olivia, who she is working on Elizabeth’s party dress, she mentions her hands are terribly hurting her. And when Elizabeth listens to Olivia reminisce about her childhood while looking at a photograph album in the attic, Olivia suddenly becomes claustrophobic and must hurriedly leave.


Jim Bob has the opportunity to get a job after school and on Saturdays at Lou’s Tool and Machine Shop in Rockfish. Although John agrees to sign the job application form for his underage son, Olivia refuses to sign insisting he already has enough to do with schoolwork and chores around the house.


John and Mary Ellen are loading boards onto the truck so John can work on the house to be built on the Mountain. Olivia leaves for Ike’s store to send some letters but with confusion surrounding Ike’s postal duties she decides not to send them. Impulsively Olivia decides to use the telephone. When the telephone operator is Erin she can not answer and runs away. As John and Grandpa work on the house, John tells his father he feels Olivia needs breathing room and a change in her life. When they return home, John finds Olivia packing for an unexplained trip to her Aunt Kate’s. She can only tell John to be patient with her.


Olivia arrives by Alberene Cab in front of Aunt Kate’s house. Olivia says that inside her suitcase are ‘candy kisses, licorice whips, a rag-doll’. Aunt Kate adds, ‘a flannel nightgown and a clean handkerchief’ and realizes Olivia has run away from home again. Aunt Kate pours a glass of sherry and offers a glass to Olivia, who refuses. Kate asks, ‘What’s the matter?’ Olivia says, ‘I can’t control how I think, what I think, or how I act!’ Aunt Kate knows a cup of hot tea will help and prepares one containing her secret ingredient. As Olivia drinks the relaxing concoction Aunt Kate suggest they visit Dr. C.W. Caldwell.


Jim Bob attempts to copy Olivia’s signature for the job application from a discarded letter. He is caught by Jason who tells his brother that what he is doing is forgery. Jason reads his mother’s letter to John Boy that states, ‘I need something to hold on to or I know I’ll fly off the world’.  Jason is worried and has Erin call Aunt Kate. But no one is home. Kate and Olivia are visiting Olivia’s childhood home but the shrubs and trees have grown and look different from what she remembers. While swinging Olivia imagines her mother calling her to supper. After being examined by the doctor, Olivia does not accept his evaluation. Kate describes symptoms: ‘the shortness of breath, the internal shakes and quivers, the pain that splits your skull, the hands that won’t work, and the need to run away’. When she adds, ‘the sudden rise of temperature and the forgetfulness’ Olivia reminds Aunt Kate she never told her what she was feeling. Kate tells Olivia she was describing her feelings, not Olivia’s feelings. Olivia now realizes she is going through menopause. Over breakfast Kate says this time is just a ‘bend in the road’ and suggests she find some amusement in it. Olivia is not quite amused but adds that if she must grow older she might as well do it gracefully.


John signs Jim Bob’s job application in case Mr. Clinton will accept one signature. On the way to Rockfish Jim Bob stops on the side of the road to forge his mother’s signature. Just then Rev. Buchanan walks up after his car breaks down. Jim Bob can not understand how he knew what he was doing. Hank doesn’t know what he is talking about but goes along, making Jim Bob think he has uncanny ministerial abilities.


A storm blows in and the family prepares for it while worrying that John is still on the Mountain. John runs to his tent in order to avoid the winds. At the same time, Jason drives through the rain on his way to Alberene. Olivia is worried about the family and calls Ike’s store. No one is there. Attempting to call Rockfish she finds all the telephone lines down. As the storm abates John emerges from the downed tent to find all of his work blown down. Jason arrives at Aunt Kate’s house and is warmly welcomed by Kate and his mother. He asks Olivia if she can come home now. John returns to the house and crumbles up the blueprints of the house. He tells Olivia that, ‘one of these days I’m going to build you that house on the Mountain’. Olivia kisses John knowing that she will be home wherever she and her husband live.


"My mother's concern for her lost youth didn't last very long, and though she must have known many times when she thought she'd 'fly off the world', she never concerned her family with them again. And today her children are hard put to maintain the pace of that vital, interested woman for very long. To us, she'll be forever young".


Elizabeth: Mama?
Olivia: Yes Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: Has Jim Bob told you about his new job?
Jim Bob: Shutup Elizabeth....
Olivia: Jim Bob don't talk that way.
Elizabeth: He's helping Reverend Buchanan.
Olivia: I think that's wonderful Jim Bob! What do you do?
Jim Bob: Copy sermons.
Olivia: What an interesting idea.
Jim Bob: It was his idea Mama. Goodnight. Olivia: Goodnight everybody....



Olivia grew up in Alberene, Virginia.

Olivia’s aunt (her mother’s younger sister) is Kate Grover Daly.

John’s car license plates are T-2038 Virginia.

Aunt Kate’s telephone number is ‘Alberene, Virginia, Market-2346’.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Aunt Kate (Louise Latham); Rev. Hank Buchanan (Peter Fox); Mr. Clinton (Jim Henaghan).