Episode 8 - The Cloudburst

(11 November 1976)
Writer: Paul Cooper.
Director: Harry Harris.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"The mountain had been our home ever since the first Walton put his axe to a pine tree and built his cabin on a plateau near the summit. Since then, each Walton child had been instilled with a regard for the traditions of the land on which we lived. Ironically, it was I, who violated those traditions and exposed our mountain to a danger unforseen and literally unknown in our sheltered community".


John-Boy enters the Charlottesville Bank & Trust Company to discuss with Mr. Carter the bank note he has taken out on the Blue Ridge Chronicle’s printing press. John-Boy is two months behind in his payments and Mr. Carter informs John-Boy that the bank needs collateral to prevent them from calling in his note. John-Boy only has an old car and a few acres of land that are not acceptable bank collateral. Mr. Carter does not want to foreclose and suggests to John-Boy that he talk with Mr. Shelby who has recently opened a new land office in town. When John-Boy visits the Interstate Land Company, Mr. Shelby, who is representing a mining operation, offers to buy John-Boy’s ten acres for four dollars an acre. John-Boy can’t believe he is selling land for that price when most land around Waltons Mountain goes for one dollar an acre or less.


John has taken work at Waynesboro while Olivia is substitute teaching for Rosemary Fordwick while she is pregnant with her first baby. Rosemary tells Olivia they plan on naming a baby boy Joseph for Matthew’s father or Margaret for her mother.


After taking Mrs. Brimmer’s weight, Doc Willard tells Mary Ellen he is going to the Haley’s whose children apparently have come down with the measles. Before he can leave, Russell Travis rushes in to tell the doctor that his wife, Martha Rose, has fallen off a ladder and is badly hurt. Curt and Mary Ellen rush to their house to find Martha Rose with several broken ribs and bruises on her face. Curt tells Mary Ellen to stay and keep Martha Rose quiet while he visits the Haley’s. Before he can return, Martha Rose’s condition worsens. Russell brings Curt back to the house where Curt decides he must perform a tracheotomy because her throat muscles are cutting off the supply of oxygen to her lungs. When he asks Mary Ellen to assist in the operation she faints.


Returning home, John-Boy finds Grandpa rubbing down Old Blue. He knows Grandpa will be furious but must tell him he has sold John-Boy’s Meadow in order to make payments of his note for the printing press. Grandpa is extremely mad when he says, “We Waltons have kept that land through the Yankee soldiers, the carpetbaggers, the land speculators and to think .... to think .... you would be the one to just throw it away”.


Bill Shelby stops by Ike’s store and states that his company has performed geological studies that show a vein of low-grade gold ore on Waltons Mountain. He plays on the potential profit the Godsey’s could make at their general store from the new industry on the Mountain and then offers to buy their twelve acres. After finding out that the Waltons sold some of their land, Ike decides to accept Shelby’s option to buy his land. Cora Beth offers to help locate the many other owners of the land Shelby wants to buy by having Ike announce his intentions at church next Sunday.


John-Boy drives to Route 6 where Shelby’s company is mining for ore. He is disgusted by the destruction the mining operation is having on the land. John-Boy realizes he has made a mistake. He looks for Grandpa at the Upper Meadow to ask him what can be done to stop the mining. John-Boy admits he made a mistake when he sold the land to Shelby without knowing what use he had in mind for the land. John-Boy convinces the rest of the landowners to hold onto their land on the mountain.


A storm is brewing while Mary Ellen walks by the Fordwick’s house. Rosemary yells to Mary Ellen for help as she is about to deliver her baby. At the same time, Matthew Fordwick is frantically searching for Doc Willard. When John-Boy stops into the general store, Ike informs John-Boy that Rosemary is about to give birth while alone in the house. John-Boy races home to tell Olivia and Grandma who immediately have John-Boy drive them to the Fordwick’s. But Mary Ellen has already delivered a healthy baby girl. When Matthew arrives a few minutes later, Rosemary says to her husband, “its a girl”. The Reverend adds, “its our Margaret”. With appreciation to Mary Ellen, Rosemary corrects him by saying, “it’s our Mary Margaret”.


John-Boy asks Reverend Fordwick to deliver the sermon up on the Mountain because the sermon could effect everyone on Waltons Mountain. While surrounded by the Mountain’s glory, Mr. Shelby joins Ike and Cora Beth and the rest of the congregation in the singing of the hymn ‘When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder’. After the service, John-Boy makes an announcement that Mr. Shelby is offering to buy land in order to build a mining camp that will destroy the land. Mr. Shelby counters by saying the mining company will bring prosperity and jobs to the Mountain. Grandpa cannot stand still when he yells to Mr. Shelby, “Where will we be? our great-great grandchildren .... where will be the air and trees and clean air for them to breathe? .... where? ..... after you and your kind get through with it ..... where will they be?” Most people decline the offer to sell their land. John-Boy has stopped Mr. Shelby from buying all the land necessary for the mining operation. John-Boy, therefore, figures Shelby will be eager to sell him back the meadow but Shelby says he will keep the land for a day when “all of you bird watchers and flower watchers are gone”. John-Boy quietly says, “I hope that time never comes.”


"Although it had been spared, that piece of land was never again to belong to us. Mr Shelby has never returned, but the flower lovers and bird watchers are waiting".


Elizabeth: I saw Mrs Fordwick's baby today.
Jason: How'd she look?
Elizabeth: Well, I don't know.
Jim Bob: You saw her, didn't you?
Elizabeth: Sure!
Jason: Well, what do you think?
Elizabeth: Not so hot.
Olivia: Elizabeth in a few weeks little Mary Margaret'll be a beautiful baby.
Elizabeth: That's a relief! Goodnight everybody!


Notes: No John (Ralph Waite).


Also Appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Cora Beth (Walton) Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Curtis Willard (Tom Bower); Reverend Fordwick (John Ritter); Rosemary Hunter Fordwick (Mariclaire Costello); Mrs. Brimmer (Nora Marlowe); Martha Rose Coverdale Travis (Cindy Eilbacher); Russell Travis (Ron Hajek); Bill Shelby (): Lyle Carter (): Woman in Congregation (): Man in Congregation ().