Episode 20 - The Traveling Man

(14 February 1980)
Writer: Kathleen Hite.
Director: Herbert Hirschman.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"There were times when the war seemed further away and life on the mountain went about its ordinary business. My father often said that he didn't have to sail the seven seas, or swim the Hellespore, or soar with the eagles if he wanted high adventure. All he had to do was wake up in the morning and his family or his friends or a total stranger would ride up the road and hand it to him".


Jeffrey's dog, Nick, is tearing up clothes, forcing Jim Bob to tell Jeffrey that the dog needs to be trained. And after breakfast, Cindy sees Ben off to the bus station while Elizabeth suggests that Jim Bob find a place of his own. Later, Rose asks Corabeth for thread to match Jim Bob's sweater that she promised to mend. While Corabeth searches her personal collection, Ike walks from the back of the store with a traveling salesman carrying a load of brooms. When he sets down the brooms, his eyes meet Rose's eyes. She exclaims, 'Mr. Perkins!" The man takes Miss Rose's hand for a dance around the store. Ike finds out that they were dance partners at the Blue Moon Ballroom in Baltimore, Maryland. Corabeth returns surprised to see Rose and Mr. Perkins dancing cheek-to-cheek. At the house, Mr. Perkins and Miss Rose reminisce about their fun times at the ballroom. Mr. Perkins says it must be 'kismet' that brought them together again. The family returns to the house; first Elizabeth, Serena, and Jeffrey; later John, Mary Ellen, Erin, and Jim Bob; and from upstairs Cindy, John Curtis, and Virginia. Rose introduces everybody to Mr. Perkins, where upon Cindy announces that Virginia is cutting a new tooth. Above the chatter of the family fussing over the child, Mr. Perkins asks Rose to go dancing with him tomorrow night and she agrees. Mr. Perkins says goodbye to the family, repeating everybody's first name from memory.


Jeffrey questions Rose about the crown she just placed on her head. She reminds him of her dancing days as Queen of the Blue Moon Ballroom. He then mentions that he may have to use a rolled-up newspaper to punish Nick. Rose shows Jeffrey her collection of postcards that Mr. Perkins sent over the years. Jim Bob asks his father if it would be okay to rent a room from Mrs. Healy. John reminds Jim Bob that a few years ago he was the 'little guy' in that bedroom. Jim Bob isn't allowed to move out.


That evening, Rose and Stanley talk while dancing. He asks Rose if she has 'really' thought about him over the years. Mr. Perkins admits he has thought of her often and fondly. When they return to their table, Mr. Perkins admits he was passed over (for a younger man) for his dream territory. But after seeing her and her family, he is thinking of settling down. When the band begins to play their favorite song, he asks to marry her. Rose is stunned and just stares at him. As they walk up the steps, Rose admits she never expected the question and must ask Serena and Jeffrey before giving an answer. When Stanley hears a train-whistle off in the distance, Rose remarks, "It's the train crossing the trestle into Rockfish."


Jim Bob decides to fix the hayloft into his bedroom. Also, Mr. Perkins is looking over a prospective house when Ike wheels up on his motorcycle. Ike isn't sure Mr. Perkins is serious about settling down but tells him the house can be bought for back taxes. Ike then remembers a letter that has been mailed to Stanley. Upon opening it, Stanley is excited to find he has been offered the finest selling territory: the western states.


Rose explains to Serena and Jeffrey what it will mean to have Mr. Perkins part of their family. The children only want their Nana to be happy. Rose decides to tell the rest of the family her decision at supper.


Jim Bob has finished his new bedroom when Mr. Perkins arrives to ask him if he bought the correct yarn for Rose to mend his sweater. When Jim Bob invites him to look over his new living space they discuss the differences of living with many people and living by oneself. Mr. Perkins describes the many places he has traveled. At supper, John says the prayer, including Mr. Perkins as their new friend. The family learns that Stanley has been searching for a house. Rose says that we can all pitch in to fix the house. Mary Ellen wonders what they are talking about when Rose announces that Mr. Perkins has asked her to marry; and that 'Serena, Jeffrey, and I proudly accept'. After supper, Jason plays the piano while Stanley and Rose dance and the rest of the family looks on. Jeffrey pulls Jim Bob outside to show him the doghouse he built for Nick. Later, Rose shows Stanley her Mother's fancy tablecloth. Stanley describes the house as in a 'state of collapse' but Rose thinks it sounds 'lovely'. He decides not to tell Rose about the letter.


Rose and John look at new curtains that Rose bought for the new house when Corabeth knocks on the door. Corabeth informs Rose of their large selection of curtains at the store. When Rose says she has already bought curtains, Corabeth mentions the letter that Mr. Perkins received for his dream territory, thinking it would be a lonely life of moving from one dreary place to another. Rose did not know about the wondrous opportunity that was offered him. At the new house, Rose and Stanley comment on the need for a new roof, paint, and 'a lot of little things'. Rose brings up Stanley's chance for his dream territory. He says he is a changed man after being with her. Stanley adds that, 'I guess I was never meant to set foot in California.' That sentence strikes a cord with Rose, after seeing her late husband, Bert, retire from the railroad but never really feel comfortable away from his love of trains. Rose says she wants him to accept the dream territory so he can fulfill his dream. Rose says goodbye to Stanley and they part ways.


"Rose continued to present her very best side to the world, warm laughing, loving. If her heart was broken it never showed in public. After a time, the picture postcards began to arrive and we all wondered if the traveling man would ever travel this way again".


Jeffrey: Jim Bob?
Jim Bob: Go to sleep, Jeffrey.
Jeffrey: How come you're back sleeping in my room?
Jim Bob: 'Cos someone stole my ladder.
Jeffrey: Now who would do a rotten thing like that......
Jim Bob: Goodnight Jeffrey.



This is the first appearance of William Schallert in his reoccurring role as Stanley Perkins.

Serena is enrolled in the ninth grade.

Jim Bob is seventeen years old.

Mrs. Healy has two sons: the elder Billy, who has entered into the army, and Jake.

Ernie Bender previously owned the house that Mr. Perkins is considering to buy. It is for sale by Rockfish Realty.

Mr. Perkins is staying at Zuleika's boarding house.

Rose used to be the Queen of the Blue Moon Ballroom in Baltimore, Maryland.


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, John Curtis (Michael and Marshall Reed), Stanley Perkins (William Schallert).