Episode 1: The Journey


(13 September 1973) 25/2/1

Writer: Nigel McKeand.

Director: Harry Harris.

Music: Arthur Morton


The Journey


"Growing up in a family as large and as close as mine, made it hard to realize that there were many people who lived in loneliness and solitude. However, the realization of that sad truth also brought me close to a remarkable woman, and sent me on a journey that I was to remember for the rest of my life".


Olivia prepares to mend John-Boy’s old pants for the upcoming school dance. John-Boy has asked Marcia Woolery to the dance, but (as usual) the girl has delayed her decision. Deciding the pants are beyond repair John-Boy suggests using his class ring money for a new pair of gray flannels at Ike’s store. Suddenly the children bring another injured animal up to the house. Olivia tells them that the bird belongs in the barn. Grandpa agrees to take a look at the sea gull, which appears to have an injured wing from the recent storm.


John-Boy gives Grandma a ride to Maggie MacKenzie’s house, a widowed woman who recently has had health problems. They stop by Ike’s store so John-Boy can show Grandma the pair of pants. Ike indicates that the imported wool pants are thirty inches in the waist and cost two dollars, thirty-five cents. John-Boy says he’s a twenty-eight inch waist. Just then Marcia enters the store, smiling at the thought of John-Boy buying a new pair of “britches” for their date. Grandma buys a half-pound of sugar while John-Boy tries to get an answer from Marcia about the date. It’s Thursday, and Marcia needs more time to think about it. At Maggie’s house Grandma becomes angry with the woman after finding her trying to start her automobile, knowing that Dr. Vance will not like her straining herself. John-Boy offers to look at the car.


At school Friday morning John-Boy becomes angry with Marcia at her indecisiveness. She finally accepts, telling him to pick her up seven o’clock. After school, John-Boy is reading love poems, when Grandpa overhears him, having liked John Keats for thirty years. Olivia measures John-Boy’s new pants while Mary Ellen helps. Grandpa and the children look over the sea gull, with Grandpa saying it needs rest, not having decided whether to live or die.


John-Boy starts Maggie’s car, after replacing the spark plugs. Just then Dr. Vance walks in to ask John-Boy why he is fixing the car. John-Boy only knows Maggie wants to use it. Upset at that news Dr. Vance tells Maggie that her condition is still the same, with a weak heart. She tells him that she intends to drive to the seashore. He forbids her from taking the journey, but she refuses to listen. As Dr. Vance leaves, John-Boy arrives and announces his success with her automobile. Maggie invites him for a cup of tea. As she prepares it John-Boy looks over her photograph album. She relives her earlier days when she came over from Scotland after her “spoken for” husband Michael brought her over after he settled in America a year earlier. The captain of the ship married them, and afterwards the passengers and crew cheered them with the tugboats honking their horns and shooting great sprouts of water into the air. The captain wished them a happy life and gave them an 1879 twenty-dollar gold piece.


Maggie tells John-Boy that they returned to the seashore on their anniversary, that Michael died twenty-five years ago, and that Saturday will be their fifty-fifth wedding anniversary. She hopes to return to the sea one more time before she dies so she can “smell the sea, taste the salty taste on my tongue, and feel the wind in my face”. After John-Boy leaves, Maggie has pains in her chest as she lifts her tea tray. Maggie realizes she must go to the sea this year because she won’t have another chance. Maggie removes a wire from the car, needing John-Boy to return to help her.


On Saturday, John arrives in the truck from Ike’s store with supplies and a note for John-Boy. John insists that John-Boy go to Mrs. MacKensie’s after finding out she is having car problems. At her house John-Boy finds that someone has removed an engine wire. Maggie admits that she removed it, needing John-Boy to drive her to the seashore. John-Boy tells her he was brought over with false pretenses, already having made plans to attend the school dance. He leaves unwilling to help her. Back home John-Boy listens as Grandpa tells the children that the sea bird yearns to return to the sea. John-Boy believes Maggie also feels the same inside, and reconsiders his decision. He runs inside and grabs his new pants, then runs to Ike’s store to return the pans. As he prepares a note for Marcia, she enters the store. When John-Boy explains, she becomes angry and runs out.


John-Boy runs to Maggie’s house, announcing he will take her to the coast. They sing, “Oh, ye’ll tak’ the high road. An’ I’ll tak’ the low road. And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye. But me and my true love, we’ll never meet again On the bonnie, bonnie banks of the O’ Loch Lomon’”. Suddenly Maggie smells the sea. After stopping on the shore, Maggie stares off in the direction of Scotland, imagining the tall ship that brought her to the new world. Later Maggie and John-Boy search for the restaurant that her and her husband always visited. She finds the “Mermaid Restaurant”. John-Boy orders lobster and Maggie eats scallops. Afterwards John-Boy pays the bill of two dollars, ten cents (with a tip of twenty-five cents).


With the piano player playing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” John-Boy and Maggie dance, with Maggie remembering back when Michael and her danced to the music. On the way home Maggie and John-Boy laugh about eating lobster. Suddenly Maggie has another attack. Driving her home, John-Boy calls for Dr. Vance. John tells John-Boy while they wait that he’s not to blame. Dr. Vance emerges to tell John-Boy that Maggie wants to see him. She tells him that she is dying, but yesterday was the happiest time she’s had in thirty years. She presents him with the 20-dollar gold piece as they hold hands and share a moment together. John comforts John-Boy as they leave.


Back home John and John-Boy watch as Grandpa and the children release the sea gull. The bird flies off to the sea as the family watches its flight. John-Boy writes in his journal: “Some people are drawn to oceans, and others to the shimmering sands of deserts. Others feel only at home on land that flows beside a river. My people were drawn to mountains, and there on Walton’s Mountain we were to share the fun and excitement of growing up together, the boundless love of our mother and father and a daily exploration of many of the wonders that lie in the human heart!"


"Some people are drawn to oceans, and others to the shimmering sands of deserts. Others feel only at home on land that flows beside a river. My people were drawn to mountains, and there on Walton’s Mountain we were to share the fun and excitement of growing up together, the boundless love of our mother and father and a daily exploration of many of the wonders that lie in the human heart!"


Erin: Mary Ellen's going to set the house on fire.

Jason: Come on Ben, Mary Ellen's started a fire!

Ben: Coming, Jason.

Erin: She's reading in bed by candlelight.

Elizabeth: Keeping everyone awake.

Olivia: What's going on in there?

Mary Ellen: It's alright Mama I'm reading the Bible.

Ben: She is not, Mama, she's reading Secrets of the Silver Screen.

Mary Ellen: Tattletale! Mama, the boys are over in our room teasing us.

John: Allright everybody, back to your own room and settle down.

Erin: Goodnight, Daddy.

John: Goodnight, Erin, 'night, Mary Ellen.

Mary Ellen: Goodnight Daddy goodnight Mama.

Olivia: Goodnight Mary Ellen, goodnight Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: Goodnight Mama, goodnight Jason.

Jason: Goodnight Elizabeth, goodnight everybody.



The year is 1934 because fifty-five years ago Maggie and Michael MacKenzie were married. They were married in 1879, on the sixteenth of this month. Michael died in 1909, twenty-five years ago.

Grandpa likes the poetry of John Keats, having read the poetry that appeared in the Saturday Charlottesville paper underneath the weather.

Earl Hamner appears (in his only appearance) in a flashback as Maggie MacKenzie’s husband Michael. They are seen dancing together thirty years ago.

The poetry Lines on the Mermaid Tavern was written by John Keats. John-Boy and Maggie eat at the Mermaid Restaurant. Coincidence? Lines from the poem can be found at http://www.bartleby.com/126/45.html.

The Mermaid Restaurant sign announces that, “Chops and Steaks, Sea Food Our Specialty”. It is located next to The Daily Sun.

Grandpa and John-Boy quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade, excerpt: “Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them”.

John-Boy and Maggie sing Bonnie Banks O’ Loch Lomon’, whose lyrics appear at: http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/1690/lyrics.html

This episode was nominated for an Emmy for direction. The director was Harry Harris. Although he missed winning the Emmy, he was awarded the Directors Guild of America Awards for the Best Direction in a Dramatic Series.

Take a look at the old photographs that Maggie shows John Boy: these photos are of Earl's own family.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley), Dr. Vance (Victor Isay), Marcia Woolery (Tami Bula), Maggie MacKenzie (Linda Watkins), Michael MacKenzie (Earl Hamner), Waiter (Chester Jones).


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