Episode 5 - The Firestorm

(21 October 1976)
Writers: Rod Petersen and Claire Whitaker.
Director: Ralph Senesky.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"The quiet strength of Waltons Mountain always seemed to shelter our house from the rest of the world. In 1937 it was hard for our family and neighbors to believe that we could ever be touched by the trouble that was reaching out from Europe".


A newsreel is shown in the movie theatre concerning Adolf Hitler. Erin, Jim Bob, and Elizabeth look on as John-Boy wonders about the book Hitler wrote called Mein Kampf. They leave the theatre after watching the movie Captains Courageous with Freddie Bartholomew and Spencer Tracy. John-Boy talks with the manager, Nat Clayton, who is pleased with his advertisement in the Blue Ridge Chronicle. He gives Elizabeth a free sack of popcorn. At the house, Rev. Fordwick confers about the Jefferson County Day Program with Mrs. Brimmer, Buck Vernon, Esther, and Corabeth while Olivia and John smooch in the kitchen. Grandpa wonders when the meeting will be over so he can have supper. The children rush in talking about the movie and Adolph Hitler. John-Boy thinks he is a fanatic, but Rev. Fordwick wonders why he [John-Boy] would want to publish excerpts of Mein Kampf in his newspaper. The others agree, not liking the idea of him placing Hitler’s writings in the local paper.


John-Boy goes out that night to do research at the library. Ben goes with him to help with finding advertisements. They drop Jason off at the Dew Drop Inn. On the drive they come across some “neckers”. They find out it is Mary Ellen and David Spencer. David tries to be sensible, to take her home, but she doesn’t want to be sensible. Back home, Jim Bob is bored, with nothing to do. Elizabeth shows Erin walking down the stairs with a book on top of her head, training to be a model. She says she is going to enter the Jefferson County Beauty Contest, headed by Zuleika Dunbar. Erin says they get to wear bathing suits. John says she will not be allowed to “shimmy” around half-naked in front of strangers. Erin becomes upset at not being allowed to participate in the beauty contest.


At church that Sunday, the congregation sing before Rev. Fordwick makes some closing announcements. The Jefferson County Day celebration will be held next Saturday. He also says that the community must protect its heritage. Then, he tells that the Blue Ridge Chronicle will print excerpts from Mein Kampf by the innocent but misdirected efforts of its editor. Fordwick mentions that Hitler has plans to replace the Bible with his book.


John-Boy works in his office, having problems with his writings. John enters the room, telling his son that he knows that happened in church. John doesn’t think Hitler is going to cause trouble, but John-Boy tells his father that soon any bit of important information will be newsworthy in papers all around the world. He tells his father that Hitler says the free press is “dribble”. John tells his son that he is proud of him, doing what he feels is right.


Erin sits by the water’s edge when Grandpa comes up at a full gait. He sees the sunken statute under the waters of Druscilla’s Pond, and recites the poem Annabelle Lee. Erin wonders whom he is talking to. She wonders why their family is so old-fashioned. She also wonders why all the others can do whatever they want to expand their talents. Grandpa says her beauty is her talent. Grandpa agrees to help in getting her back into the beauty contest. She leaves, and he then wonders how he’ll accomplish that goal. He goes over to Zuleika’s place, and listens to her sing and watches her dance. They talk about the beauty pageant, offering him to be one of the judges. He declines, knowing that Esther will not stand for it. He is about to make a suggestion when Mrs. Brimmer walks up to her boarding house. Zeb has repaired her rocking chair, and has brought it to her. She asks him if John-Boy is still going to write about Hitler in his newspaper. Zeb says that he is.


Mrs. Brimmer visits John-Boy at the newspaper office. She asks him not to write the article because it will cause hatred in the community. She remembers when her husband was alive. He was ‘Jew born’, she says and no one knows about it on Walton’s Mountain. Being a Jew from Germany during those days did not help in the United States. They kept on moving, finally settling on Walton’s Mountain, and did not let their secret out. She begs him not to print the story. John-Boy says what happened to her happened out of ignorance. Ignorance is dangerous, and he must print the article to inform his audience, and hope they will understand what he is trying to do. He promises to keep her secret.


John-Boy goes to his advertisers to find out why they are canceling on him. Olivia tells John that she is beginning to hate that paper. Olivia is worried that John-Boy is going to get himself hurt. Grandpa pushes Esther into the living room with the rest of the family for a special performance. He announces Miss Erin Walton, the newest entrance into the bathing beauty contest. She walks downstairs in an old-fashioned swimsuit, which is covering almost all of her body. Olivia and John agree that she can enter the contest. She hugs her father.


Mr. Clayton, at the movie theatre, says that if his ad appears in his newspaper then he might be associated with the writings of Hitler. He can’t afford negative publicity. As John-Boy goes to his car, boys have tossed his papers all over the street and are running off yelling “Zig Heil”. John-Boy and Ben prepare the Hitler article on the printing press. They work throughout the night, finally printing out the title of the article:“Hitler—A Fanatic’s Rise to Power”. In the morning, Ike and Corabeth tell John-Boy that they do not wish to have any of his papers, not wanting to be associated with such words. John-Boy walks off, saying he understands.


The children have gone to the weenie roast of the BYPU (Baptist Young Peoples Union). John-Boy says that the kids do some courting at the weenie roast, but Grandma and Olivia disagree. John tells them about the time they were together at the roast at Steeden’s Hollow. Olivia changes the subject quickly. Just then Mary Ellen and David arrive, telling them of a cocktail party (for the interns at the Biology lab) they just came from. The drinks were only punch. Just then a brick is thrown through the front window. John, John-Boy, and David go after them. The note attached to the brick contains the Nazi Swastika. John tells his son that he can’t let this to continue; he must protect his family.


The family attends the beauty pageant. Zuleika announces “Miss Erin Walton, from Walton’s Mountain” and she walks on the stage in her swimsuit. (What are those things in her hair?) As the contest continues Rev. Fordwick asks to talk with John-Boy. John-Boy says, “some storm trooper paid them a visit”. John-Boy says he will succumb to public pressure and will not print anything more controversial than the weather. Fordwick says he is planning a get-together after the contest. John-Boy agrees to attend. Zuleika announces the winner: Miss Florabelle Tait. Erin is visibly disappointed but tries to maintain a smile on her face. After she walks off stage, the family congratulates her. Erin is upset, saying the John-Boy has turned the community against the family. John-Boy has ruined her chances to be someone. John-Boy goes to her sister, saying he was not his fault. She won’t listen to him.


At the get-together, the community sing around a roaring fire as Jason accompanies on his guitar. Rev. Fordwick talks about the violent acts recent in the community. He says that the Nazis have been burning our American books. Buck Vernon has found a copy of Mein Kamph, and he proposes a symbolic book burning here on Walton’s Mountain. Vernon puts a whole pile of German books on the fire. John-Boy rushes toward the two men, telling them to stop, that what is going on in Germany and Walton’s Mountain is not too different right now. John-Boy says he was just trying to inform the community about a dictator trying to take over the world. He is trying to preserve their freedoms by informing them of what is being written about in the world. He looks down and sees a particular book. He picks up the book, wondering if someone here could read German. Mrs. Brimmer walks up.


John-Boy asks her to read the first few sentences of the book in German. He then asks her to read the same passage in English. Mrs. Brimmer reads, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth, and the earth was without form. And void and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God spoke, “Let there be light.”


Mrs. Brimmer and John-Boy emotionally face each other. John-Boy abruptly turns to Rev. Fordwick, handing him the book: the Bible. Rev. Fordwick says that these books (Mein Kamph and the Bible) should be placed in good hands, and hands him them to John-Boy. Rev. Fordwick concludes the ceremony with the singing of Faith of Our Fathers.


"My first experience at expressing an unpopular idea nearly turned into a disaster. Fortunately, my family was able to overcome the problems I had helped create for them. The troubles soon died down when people realised I was only trying to let them know that something was stirring in the world that even Waltons Mountain could not keep out of".



The year is 1937 according to the introduction and because the movie Captains Courageous was released in 1937.

Information about Mein Kampf can be found at: http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/.

Information about the 1937 movie Captains Courageous can be found at: http://www.filmsite.org/capt.html.

The lyrics of Faith of Our Fathers can be found at: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/f/a/faithoof.htm.

Jenny Carter and Ben were necking at Steeden’s Hollow during the BYPU.


Jason: Ben?
Ben: Uh hm?
Jason: How was the Baptists Young Peoples picnic?
Ben: Well I was just there part of the time.
Grandma: Where were you the rest of the time?
Elizabeth: He and Jenny Car went for a walk -
Erin: - up to Sneedums Hollow.
Grandma: What were you doin' up there?
Elizabeth: They were necking.
Grandma: Good Lord!
Jason: That's enough out of you, Elizabeth!
John: Nothin' changes, does it 'Liv!
Olivia: Go to sleep!


Also appearing:

Ike and Corabeth Godsey (Joe Conley and Ronnie Claire Edwards); Rev. Matt Fordwick (John Ritter); Mrs. Brimmer (Nora Marlowe); Zuleika Dunbar (Pearl Shear); Buck Vernon (Barry Cahill); David Spencer (Robert Merritt Woods); Nat Clayton (Jason Wingreen), Florabelle Tait (Jennifer Rogers); Vandal #1 (Don Carter); Vandal #2 (Larry Hayden); Newsreel Announcer (Art Gilmore).