Episode 16 - The Prodigals

(17 January 1980)
Writer: Robert Pirosh.
Director: Stan Latham.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"As my grandfather used to say, 'everybody looks at the world through his own knothole'. My brothers and sisters and I and the two cousins who came to live with us were all brought up in the same house and in pretty much the same way. But the world looked a little bit different to each of us, and there was a day, a beautiful bright sunny day, but it looked very bleak to my brother Ben, and even bleaker to my cousin Jeffrey".


Rose guides Jeffrey into the house (as Ben leaves) in order to show John the bit that he broke after leaving it in the road and letting a truck drive over it. John reminds Jeffery that this is another one in a series of troubles that he has been in. Rose warns him they may have to move if another problem occurs. Ben joins Jason for lunch at Andrea's Coffee Shop. Afterwards, two soldiers salute them, one saying it takes quite a smart guy (Ben) to prevent getting drafted. Ben has been granted a deferment as an essential worker, but he doesn't feel right about being a civilian. He tells Jason that he is thinking of enlisting.


Jeffrey catches up with Josh Foster who is delivering laundry. They tell each other their troubles, part of which is the need for money. Outside Ike's store, they enter a crap game involving several military men. But Verdie catches the pair shooting craps. They promise never to gamble again. But as soon as she departs, they re-enter the game. Unlucky again, Ike catches the group and confiscates the money. The boys decide to later ask Ike for their one dollar, twenty cents back. When Ike is no where to be found they decide to slip through an open window to retrieve their money. At the same time, Verdie arrives at the Walton's searching for her son. Rose believes Jeffrey is upstairs asleep. However, the pair is now opening the cash register when Ike and Corabeth return from a walk. The boys run outside with the bag of money. The excitement causes Ike to have a mild heart attack. When Corabeth goes for his medicine she sees Josh running away.


Ben enters the shed to talk with Cindy about his concerns with not being in the military. Cindy doesn't know how Ben could ever think about leaving her and their daughter.


When Verdie and John return to the house, Rose informs them that the deputy sheriff is holding Josh for robbing Ike's store of thirty-eight dollars. When the deputy sheriff tells Verdie he will have to hold the boy Verdie asks if a Walton son would be held or released in John's custody. John backs her up and Josh is released in Verdie's custody. Josh insists he does not possess the money. Verdi wonders if someone else might be involved.


In the morning, Jeffrey awakens early to bury the money next to the wood pile. Soon Jim Bob walks up ready to cut more firewood for Ike. Jeffrey watches Jim Bob place more firewood on top of his hidden bag. Over breakfast, the family discusses the robbery. After Mary Ellen says that Josh may be forced into a reform school, Jeffrey leaves the table, saying he has a stomach ache.


Josh is found sweeping the porch without being told to do so. Verdie thinks he has a guilty conscious. Josh says that he is sorry for being bad ever since his daddy has been away. He admits his wrongdoing to Ike and Corabeth while Verdie listens. Ike says he will drop all charges if Josh returns the money. But Josh says he dropped the money and does not know where it is. Verdie says she will repay the money a little each week. For his punishment Josh will be required to paint the storefront. Jeffrey arrives to help him but Ike refuses to let Jeffrey help, saying it's Josh's job alone.


Ben visits John-Boy at the hospital after driving over from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Ben confesses he feels bad about not being in the service. John-Boy advises him to stay at the mill, where his talents are put to their best use. Elizabeth, Serena, and Jeffrey walk home from school when Jeffrey sees the woodpile totally covering his secret. Jeffrey agrees to listen to Serena's bible verses for a nickel but quits the job after hearing about Jonah and the whale. He decides to run away so he doesn't hurt Rose and Serena. In the morning, he leaves a note and runs off. Later, Rose finds the note and shows it to John. He believes Jeffrey is part of Josh's troubles. Rose and John drive to find Jeffrey. In the meantime, Jeffrey is hitchhiking when he runs into Verdie. She believes he is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Jeffrey confesses he was the other boy with Josh. Back home, Jeffrey confesses to Rose and John, explaining why he can't dig up the money. John tells him his punishment will be to remove each piece of firewood and deliver it to Ike.


John helps Cindy repair the iron when Ben enters. He tells them both that he has just enlisted into the Seabees. John understands but is disappointed about the decision. Cindy explains she did not realize the war was real until now, with his announcement.


Josh joins Jeffrey while takings a load of firewood to Ike's store. With his painting completed Josh agrees to help Jeffrey. Afterwards, they agree to work together at Ike's store for twenty-five cents an hour.


Wearing his uniform, Ben walks with Cindy. It is their last weekend together before he enters into military service.


"Ben and Cindy were closer than they had ever been before. Though their future was uncertain because Ben was going off to war, this would always be a weekend to remember".


Jim Bob: Turn the light off Jeffrey, I want to sleep.
Jeffrey: I haven't finished my homework.
Jim Bob: You can do it in the morning.
Jeffrey: I'll have too many chores to do.
Jim Bob: You're being too good Jeffrey.
Jeffrey: Oh. I guess maybe you're right.
Cindy: Goodnight Sailor.
Ben: You mean Seebee.
Cindy: Goodnight Seebee.
Ben: Goodnight Mate!



The Seabees is a group within the U.S. Navy that performs construction and engineering work. The word Seabee is an alteration of 'cee bee', the pronunciation of the initial letters of the words 'construction battalions'. More information can be found at: http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/personnel/seabees/seabee1.html and http://www.seabeecook.com/seabees/.

Ben joins Jason for lunch at Andrea's Coffee Shop.

Josh and Jeffrey get into trouble after playing craps outside of Ike’s Store, re-entering the store to retrieve their money, and causing Ike to have a mild heart attack.

Ben visits John-Boy at the hospital after driving over from Fredericksburg, Virginia In reality, Fredericksburg is located in Shotsylvania County in east central Virginia, about halfway between Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia. Additional information on Fredericksburg is located at: http://fredericksburg.com/  and http://www.fredericksburgvirginia.net/.


Also appearing:

Ike and Corabeth Godsey (Joe Conley and Ronnie Claire Edwards); Rose (Peggy Rae); Serena (Martha Nix); Jeffrey (Keith Mitchell), Cindy (Leslie Winston), Verdie Foster (Lynn Hamilton), Josh Foster (James Bond III), Deputy Sheriff (Macon McCalman), The Roller (Chris Malkey), John-Boy (Robert Wightman), First G.I. (Ron Thompson), The Private (Christopher Metas).