The Inspiration

(31 January 1980)

Writer: E.F. Wallengren,

Director: Ralph Waite,

Music: Alexander Courage


Special guest star: Ellen Corby


"On Waltons Mountain we treasured our neighbors, everyone knew everone else and we shared together in the joys and the sorrows of the people around us. We were all deeply alarmed when we learned that Miss Mamie Baldwin had developed an afliction, one that might forever confine her within her home".


Miss Mamie finishes a new batch of The Recipe while Miss Emily measures the dining room for use as the dance floor of the annual spring dance. When Miss Mamie finds out that her sister agreed to this request from the schoolteacher, she is upset, not liking the idea. Miss Emily is concerned about recently never being able to please her sister. Jason soon arrives as the taste-tester for The Recipe after John is called away. Miss Mamie thinks, however, its John when seeing him from across the room. When Jason and the ladies taste a sample, there is something wrong. Miss Emily thinks her sister has misread the recipe.


That night Jason relates to the family the problems that are occurring with Miss Mamie. Elizabeth arrives late and is kidded about wanting Steve Prince to ask her to the spring dance. Later Elizabeth posts a letter to John-Boy at Ike's store. After Elizabeth asks Corabeth about 'boys' Steve and Drew come in to buy fishing line for a fishing outing at Druscilla's Pond.


Miss Emily drives to the house to ask John for his help with her sister. She thinks Miss Mamie will confide in him with whatever is troubling her. At the Baldwin's house Miss Mamie finally confesses to John and Miss Emily that she is going blind. Later at Dr. Canfield's office, the physician informs them that Miss Mamie has cataracts that will eventually result in blindness if surgery is not performed. He recommends immediate surgery but the sisters are hesitant after having their Papa die on the operating table.


Elizabeth makes a detailed plan on how to encourage Steve to ask her to the dance. She asks Erin if she thinks the plan will work. That night, Miss Mamie looks at her Papa's portrait over the mantle, wondering how much longer she will be able to see his picture.


The next morning Elizabeth says 'hi' to Steve, asking his help with solving quadratic equations. Steve sidesteps the question while Drew bicycles off to ask Jolene Isley to the dance. Mary Ellen and John prepare to drive Miss Mamie to the hospital, but Miss Emily tells them that her sister has changed her mind. Miss Mamie emerges from the recipe room in order to tell them they promised their Papa to always take care of one another. As a result, they promised each other never to submit to surgery.


On the way home John believes that he knows someone who can change the minds of the Baldwin sisters. Knowing the sisters need a nurse to stay with them, John brings Grandma home for a visit. The family warmly greets her, and she sees Jason and Ben in uniform and meets Virginia and Rose for the first time. After supper John explains their need for Rose to Grandma after noticing her uneasiness with the change in the household. John also explains that Rose and the kids did not have any place else to go.


Outside Ike's store Elizabeth finds that Steve is waiting for Norma who has agreed to go to the dance with him. Elizabeth says, 'Men are such jerks.' At the Baldwin's house, John brings Grandma over to stay but Miss Mamie can barely see her when Grandma stands in front of her. Ben finds Elizabeth upset that Steve does not like her. Ben convinces his sister that she should go downstairs to talk with Drew. On the porch Elizabeth listens while Drew awkwardly asks her to the dance. Knowing both were not the first choice for dance partners, Elizabeth agrees to go with her friend, Drew.


At the Baldwin's house Grandma helps with preparations for the dance. The sisters discuss how they will live with Miss Mamie's disability. Grandma holds her hand out, saying, 'No hope", then points to Miss Mamie's eyes, saying, 'Hope.' Later at the dance Elizabeth introduces Drew to Grandma while the other chaperons, Corabeth, Miss Emily, and Miss Mamie, look on. Corabeth tells Drew and Elizabeth not to dance so close, but both say they are comfortable with their dancing. They notice how clumsy Steve is at dancing as he steps on Norma's feet. Drew and Elizabeth leave for the patio, but think Corabeth might interfere, believing they might fall in love. Both say the idea wouldn't be so bad. After the dance Drew walks Elizabeth home. He asks her to a movie tomorrow night, and the couple kisses for the first time.


The next morning Grandma observes Miss Emily playing the piano. Grandma asks her to place a scarf over her eyes, like playing blind man's bluff. Miss Emily becomes disoriented and afraid of the darkness around her. She realizes what her sister's life will become. Just then Miss Mamie breaks a gift given to their Papa's Grandfather by John Quincy Adams. Miss Mamie is saddened by the thought of never again seeing a rose or a whippoorwill. Grandma says, 'Try, try. Don't give up.' Miss Mamie and Miss Emily decide to break their promise in order to restore Miss Mamie's sight.


"After Miss Mamie consented to the operation, my grandmother returned to Buckingham County to take care of her sister Angie. When Miss Mamie's eyesight was restored she later said that she had stood at her father's portrait and had seen a look of approval that she had never known to be there".


Jim Bob: Elizabeth, When you say Goodnight does Drew kiss you? Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: No, Jim Bob.
Jim Bob: Aw, come on.
Elizabeth: Drew kisses me before he says Goodnight.
Jim Bob: Does he close his eyes when he kisses you?
Elizabeth: I don't know!
Jim Bob: Why not?
Elizabeth: Because I close mine.
Jim Bob: Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: What?
Jim Bob blows a kiss: Goodnight Elizabeth!



Drew Cutler, Elizabeth's future boyfriend, first appears in this episode.

Steve and Drew almost forget to pay the twenty-five cents for the purchase of fishing line at Ike's store.

The Baldwin sister's Papa died (over twenty years ago) while on the operating table during surgery to remove a lesion.


Also appearing:

Ike and Corabeth Godsey (Joe Conley and Ronnie Claire Edwards), Cindy Walton (Leslie Winston), Rose Burton (Peggy Rea), Serena Burton (Martha Nix), Jeffrey Burton (Keith Mitchell), Miss Emily and Miss Mamie Baldwin (Mary Jackson and Helen Kleeb), John Curtis (Michael and Marshall Reed), Steve Prince (Philip Linton), Drew Cutler (Tony Becker), Norma (Becky Perle), Dr. Canfield (Arthur Hanson).