Episode 14 - The Ferris Wheel

(6 January 1977)
Writers: Rod Petersen and Claire Whitaker.
Director: Lawrence Dobkin.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"Most of our memories of growing up on Waltons Mountain are good ones. But there did come a time when a dark remembrance from Elizabeth's childhood rose to haunt everybody in our house".


A stormy night brings more nighmares to Elizabeth. She dreams about riding alone on a ferris wheel that moves faster until she falls out. She awakens screaming at the bottom of the stairs. It’s the second nightmare this week and the family is concerned about her dreams. John-Boy explains to Olivia that he believes the dreams are a code message from something she is trying to forget or wanting to hide.


In the morning when Ben comes down to the kitchen, he is dressed up to visit the Jarvis Used Car lot. John-Boy thinks he is giving special service to Mr. Jarvis ever since his daughter Darlene went to work for him. While making lunches, Olivia asks Ben to take a jar of peanut butter off of a high shelf. He is unable to reach it, but Jason easily removes the jar for him. Ben wonders about his stature. Ben arrives at the Jarvis office to talk with Darlene about new advertisements. Ben says the Chronicle is taking care of the advance publicity for the Daws Carnival that is coming to Charlottesville. He is about to ask her to the carnival when one of salesmen calls Ben ‘Shorty’ and Darlene stands up to a height taller than Ben’s.


Jim Bob makes a contraption to wake Elizabeth when she sleepwalks. With Jim Bob behind him in the mirror, Ben sees he is shorter than his younger brother. That night Jim Bob catches Jason—not Elizabeth—with his trap as he comes in from the Dew Drop Inn. The next morning, Ben questions Grandpa about the wall marks showing their height over the years. Ben does not feel he is growing as fast as the others.


The Baldwin sisters purchase house locks from Ike’s store. They are scared after being robbed the last time the carnival was in town. They tell Ike their mama’s diamond necklace and matching tiara was never recovered. The sisters also mention the sheriff was about to question a carnival worker when he was killed. At the store, John-Boy sees Elizabeth turning the large coffee grinder—that looks similar to a ferris wheel—with a far-away look in her eyes. John-Boy questions Elizabeth about the day she wandered off, the same day the sisters were robbed. She does not want to talk about it and gets upset when questioned.


While sitting around the radio, Grandpa asks Jim Bob if the ‘March of Time’ is on. Jim Bob says it isn’t but ‘Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy’ is on. John is upset that the article he has been reading on Dizzy Dean was cut from the newspaper. Later, John begins refinishing a chair and Ben admits he cut the article. On the back of the article is an ad for elevator shoes that Ben wants to buy after being concerned with his height. John says he should concentrate on the inside but Ben says it’s the outside everybody sees. Later in the evening, Olivia finds Elizabeth sleepwalking in the tree house and must be rescued by John. The next morning Olivia and John decide a physical exam is necessary for Elizabeth. Curt does not find anything physically wrong with her but suggests that if the nightmares do not stop she may need to see a psychologist or psychiatrist in Richmond.


Ben’s elevator shoes arrive but when he wears them, no one notices his additional height. John finds Ben on his bed and explains to him that he has noticed how people look at him. He says, “They don’t see someone tall or short, fat or thin; they see a steady, hard-working young fellow with a good sense of fun - knows how to frown once in awhile. They see a big man in lots of ways.” Ben says, “Yeah, but not big in the way I want to be.” John agrees, “Yeah, I know what you mean. I always wanted to have red hair and be good lookin’.” John concludes, “When people look only at your outside, it’s them that come up short.”


Olivia tucks Elizabeth into bed comforted that all the doors are locked. But Erin finds their bedroom window open and Elizabeth gone. With a vision of the ferris wheel on her mind, Elizabeth walks in her sleep to the carnival. John-Boy and Ben find her sitting in the top cab of the ferris wheel. Ben climbs the girders while John-Boy tells Elizabeth not to move. She recalls seeing the ferris wheel worker and the sheriff down below. She then observes the worker hiding something in a cave. When he returns, the rotating ferris wheel hits him in the head and knocks him out. Ben reaches Elizabeth just in time before she tries to jump from the cab. The next day Sheriff Bridges reaches into the cave. He finds a wrapped cloth and gives it to Elizabeth who takes it to the Baldwin’s. They identify their mama’s jewelry. While Ben is on a date with Darlene she says he was a real hero last night. John notices Ben is not wearing his new shoes. After what has happened the past few days, Ben realizes he doesn’t need them anymore.


"Never again was Elizabeth to experience the terrors brought on by that frightening memory. And never again would I attempt to unravel the mysteries of the unconscious mind. Once more we could enjoy quiet and peaceful nights in our house on Waltons Mountain".


Jim Bob: Ben? When you put your arm around a girl are you supposed to ask her permission or anything?
Ben: Course not.
Jim Bob: How about when you kiss her?
Ben: Uh huh. It's like offering her the last piece of candy.
Jim Bob: I don't get it.
Ben: Well she's goin' to feel silly if she says 'yes' and bad if she says 'no'.
Jim Bob: 'sound pretty smart.
Ben: Well I've been around.
Jim Bob: Around girls or around candy?
Ben: Goodnight Jim Bob.
Jim Bob: 'night everybody!



The license plates on John-Boy’s car are 672-489.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Sheriff Ep Bridges (JohnCrawford); Curtis Willard (Tom Bower); Miss Mamie Baldwin (Helen Kleeb); Miss Emily Baldwin (Mary Jackson); Darlene Jarvis (Debi Richter); Wilbur Dawes (Dave Shelley).