Episode 14 - The Rumor

(5 January 1978)
Writer: Kathleen Hite.
Director: Ralph Waite.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"In memory now I think to that time in 1940 when the war was in Europe, wide miles across the Atlantic from the Blue Ridge. A time when its treachery rarely reached as far as Waltons Mountain. Still, the seeds of distrust and suspicion were everywhere. They were there for my sister Elizabeth when she began to keep a journal, such as I had done as a boy. Her imagination, always vivid, had been joined by a genuine gift for exageration. So when the rumor began, Elizabeth was among those who passed it along, bigger than when she had received it".


With John and Ben standing over him, Jim Bob attempts to minimize static coming from his short-wave radio. They hear German voices from the transmission but are uncertain where it originates. Elizabeth is writing a story, imitating the way John-Boy wrote, when Grandpa walks in to tell his granddaughter that she even looks like John-Boy. As Mary Ellen and Erin dance to Guy Lombardo on the radio John and the boys walk into the room. The music is interrupted with a news bulletin declaring that German forces have evaded the neutral nations of Norway and Denmark. A knock is then heard at the front door where John discovers a man with a German accent searching for Flossie Brimmer’s house. He is Flossie’s brother-in-law, Willie Brimmer, who has arrived with wife, Marta, and daughter, Katrina. While John and Jim Bob take the family to Mrs. Brimmer’s house Ike and Corabeth discover an old dog while closing the store.


Preparing for bed, Olivia says she is chilled to hear about the German invasion and then, closer to home, to hear the man with the German accent. John only hopes that Elizabeth will not run these events into the ground. Elizabeth writes in her diary about how ‘strangers can make a community feel afraid’.


While Corabeth complains about everything under the sun and Ike moves the pickle barrel, Willie Brimmer enters the store. He introduces himself and explains that he is looking for work. Ike suggests he inquire at John’s mill. Buck Vernon wanders into the store and acts very coldly toward the German-speaking man. Vernon does not like ‘that talk’ and wonders why he moved to Waltons Mountain. As Willie walks to the mill John and Grandpa complain about the shoddy work the boys did on some chairs. Upon arriving Willie announces he is a carpenter who is in need of work. John shows him the chairs that need to be reworked and the desks they make for the army. John agrees to hire the experienced man and suggests the family move into the vacant Montgomery place that is about half way up the Mountain.


Elizabeth and her new friend Katrina play in the tree house while the old dog walks up to the house. Grandpa knows that Samuel the dog was the long-time companion of Judge Frazier who died just last week. Vernon conveys his suspicions about the German man with Sheriff Bridges who is getting a haircut from Charlie the barber. Ep admits that he can’t arrest the man for just talking with a German accent.


Jim Bob and the Brimmer family eat lunch while Willie addresses their problems of being of German descent at their last home. Later, Jim Bob shows Willie his short-wave radio hoping he can improve its reception. With Elizabeth looking on, the pair hears a German conversation. The signal is weak and Willie suggests they move the antennae to the mountaintop. When Vernon confronts John about the German he hired, Elizabeth tells him that Willie was listening to German conversations on Jim Bob’s radio. Vernon is suspicious about the activity and relates this new information to Ike Godsey. Ike doesn’t believe Vernon but Elizabeth, having arrived at the store, finds a package addressed to Willie Brimmer. It is written in German. Vernon continues to build his case against the German family at Charlie’s barbershop.


Willie arrives at Ike’s store to pick up a package while Vernon completes repair work. When Corabeth can not find the package she assumes it has not arrived. Willie telephones Germantown, Pennsylvania to find out what has happened to the package. He speaks in German to the person at the other end of the telephone. Corabeth finally locates the package but not after Vernon has listened to the entire conversation. Upon returning home, Willie opens the box that contains needed medicine for his respiratory problem.


Elizabeth and Katrina search for Sam but Grandpa suggests they leave the old dog alone. The girls run off but Grandpa later finds they have locked up the dog. Grandpa turns the dog loose telling the girls he thinks the dog wants to be left alone so it can die peacefully and with dignity. Grandpa tells the girls to run home but he stays and ponders about what he has just told the girls.


A group of men talk outside Ike’s store about the new German neighbors. Vernon leads the group into deciding they can handle the problem themselves. John and Willie work as the gang of men drive up with clubs in the hands. They tell John he is harboring a spy. Willie tells the men that just because he speaks a different language he is labeled the enemy. When confronted by the mysterious package and the speaking of German over the telephone, Willie informs the men the package contain medicine from his doctor who speaks little English. John tells the men how foolish they look after chasing a rumor a little girl has spread.


"Willie, Marta and Katrina Brimmer were accepted as neighbors and friends in our community. My parents were able to see that Elizabeth faced her blame, and learned from it. And though she set aside her journal for a while, she kept forever her boundless imagination".


Jim Bob: Grandpa?
Grandpa: Ye-es, Jim Bob?
Jim Bob: What kind of dog was Sam?
Grandpa: Hard to say. Best dogs are often mixed breed.
Elizabeth: Is Reckless a mixed breed?
Jason: Well she's one part hound dog and, the rest we don't know!
Elizabeth: It's too bad Sam was so old, could have had some puppies.
Jim Bob: Don't start any rumors....
(everybody): Goodnight everybody!



The Willie Brimmer family moved to Waltons Mountain from Germantown, Pennsylvania.

Willie telephones his doctor at ‘Germantown, Pennsylvania 2346’.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Willie Brimmer (Mathew Anden); Marta Brimmer (Ellen Blake); Katrina Brimmer (Tasha Lee Zemrus); Buck Vernon (Barry Cahill); Fisk (Hal Bokar); Charlie the Barber (Larry D. Blake); Sheriff Ep Bridges (John Crawford); German Voice (Chris Anders); The Radio Announcer (John Hiestand).