"Sometimes people's lives would become entwined with ours for a brief time and then because of change or growth or the passage of time their lives would take different paths and we would never see or hear of them again. But there were occasions when people we had known in the past would reappear. I remember one such occasion, and it took us completely by surprise".
Jim Bob and Elizabeth carry a bushel basket of corn as the rest of the family prepare for supper. Suddenly, a taxi arrives with Vera Walton and her son Floyd. They warmly welcome them, and ask where is her husband Wade. The adults go inside with Vera while the children play with Floyd. Inside, Vera says she wasn’t meant for the city, unable to get used to electric light and indoor plumbing. She says that Wade is different now, only coming home to sleep. He is working, but only seems to go to his job about half the time. She admits believing that Wade has lady friends. Vera hopes to stay with them until she can straighten things out. While the girls play with Floyd and the boys play catch, Olivia takes Vera to the shed. Jason brings in her suitcase, while Vera asks Olivia to fetch her baby.
At Ike’s, Ben asks if any mail has arrived for him. Ike, after smelling freshly ground coffee, says that a bill has arrived for John and five letters for him. Ike is curious as to where the letters came from, but Ben won’t tell him. Corabeth is in the back with one of her sick headaches, saying the she would be curious. Ben still won’t say. John-Boy arrives home to find Vera and Floyd sitting at the supper table while the family sits around the radio listening to Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen. The family tells John-Boy that Wade isn’t with them. Vera confronts John-Boy, telling him she blames him for putting fool ideas into Wade’s head about dreaming to be a wood carver. She says that Wade has turned his back on his talent, on her and Floyd, and the rest of the Christian world.
John and John-Boy drive to visit Wade that night. At the same time, Wade leaves the Westham Woodworks. He meets Corky, who says that his Granddaddy Boone wants them to pick up some stuff tonight. Wade thinks it’s risky but Corky says it is worth it. They climb into the truck, carrying guns, worried that the sheriff might find them. John and John-Boy wait for Wade, and as they decide to leave Wade drives up. He wonders why Vera didn’t see them outside, and ignores them when John says Vera is not inside. Wade soon realizes that Vera is gone. John says that she is at their house. Wade doesn’t believe that she would pay for a taxi after always saying how “it cost too much”. Wade becomes angry when he finds out she is not visiting, but has left him after feeling he is not treating her well. He expects her back home by the time he returns from work tomorrow. As John and John-Boy leaves, Wade apologizes for his anger, and asks if Vera is okay (saying he loves his wife and baby).
In the morning, Grandpa tells John that Grandma talked all night in her sleep. Mary Ellen asks if her Momma and Daddy ever fought when they first got married. John jokes by saying “every other day”. Erin comments that the best part of fighting is making up. Grandma wonders how she would know. Ben says that Erin and Mary Ellen read confession stories in bed. Vera comes in with Floyd. Jason says grace. They pass the pancakes while Vera said she used to sit at a Christian table with her husband. She gets upset and leaves, and Olivia goes after her.
Grandpa takes Ben, Jim Bob, and Elizabeth into the forest looking for scrub pine trees. He tells them about the rings of a tree that reveal its age. Ben tells his grandfather that he’s learned alot about pines, and says he has been working on something. Grandpa goes back while Elizabeth and Jim Bob race off with Ben. Ben tells them that he’s started “Walton Phenomenal Pines Enterprises” in order to sell seedlings in the flatland. He already has gotten orders from his advertisement in Grip magazine. Jim Bob and Elizabeth agree to help him, and to keep the idea a secret.
Wade is making spindles at his job along with another worker when the supervisor asks him to come into his office. The supervisor says that Wade is a good worker when he sets his mind to it. However, lately his work has been sloppy, and has been late to work. The supervisor tells Wade he knows about his moonlighting job, and Wade responds, saying it is none of his business. The supervisor says it is his business when it affects his work. Wade gets mad and tells the man to shove the job, and quits. Later Wade comes home with flowers and gifts for his wife. But, she is not home. Corky drives up saying that Grandpa Walton wants everything delivered now. They leave in the truck, hoping to bypass a roadblock.
Olivia tells Vera that she has deep struggles now, but needs to meet her new life halfway. At the bridge over Druscilla’s Pond, Vera says she will be leaving to stay with relatives near Afton, Virginia. Jim Bob and Elizabeth help Ben wrap seedlings for shipment. Ben acts as supervisor, saying that with nine seedlings at seventy-five cents each, they have made six dollars, seventy-five cents. John-Boy drives to Wade’s house, but isn’t given a warm welcome. John-Boy says he has a chip on his shoulder, and Wade responds, saying he blames him for encouraging his woodcarvings, but they never sold. Wade tells John-Boy to butt out, but John-Boy says no, wondering why he won’t talk with him after they, about a year ago, were standing side-by-side fighting the government. Wade finally admits that he has been running moonshine for Grandpa Boone to Richmond, Norfolk, and Newsport News. John-Boy says it is just as illegal to run moonshine, as it is to make and sell it. Wade says it makes him feel “alive” like in the war. A knock is heard at the door, and Sheriff Bridges has come to take him and Corky to the jailhouse.
John-Boy drives home to tell John and Grandpa that Wade is in jail for running moonshine for Grandpa Boone. Judge Horsley has ordered a fifty-dollar fine or fifty days in jail, a modest judgment since it was Wade’s first offense. John refuses to give money for his release, and tells John-Boy to make Boone pay up the money. John-Boy drives off to find Boone.
Ben rides off from Ike’s store, telling Ike he might branch off his business of branches. Ike is confused. Ben tells John and Grandpa of his new business and all the new orders he has received. Ben says he’s been selling scrub and yellow pine seedlings to people in the area of Tidewater (along the coast in Virginia) and in the state of North Carolina. Grandpa isn’t sure these mountain pines will grow in those areas. Sheriff Bridges soon drives up, telling Ben that he has received complains from the Forestry Department with seedlings that have arrived dead or that have died soon afterwards. Plus, Ep says the Ben does not have a commercial license. Ep says that Zeb should have known that you couldn’t transplant seedlings until they are two years old. Grandpa says, “Yes, I should have known.” Ep isn’t doing to prosecute Ben as long as he returns the money. Ben has already spent most of the money on shipping and other expenses, but John says he can do chores to make up the difference. Ep agrees to let him pay back the money a little at a time. The sheriff leaves and John tells Ben to hitch up the mule and haul in some logs.
At the Jefferson County Courthouse, Wade and John-Boy leave, off to see Vera and Floyd. Wade goes to the shed, but Vera won’t let him in until he proves that he really wants them. He threatens to knock down the door, and then yells at John-Boy. John tries to break up the fight, finally throwing Wade to the ground. He says he won’t be knocking down any of his property. John gives Wade two choices: work for him at making furniture or he’ll thrash him from here to Rockfish. Wade walks away to think about his choices, looks at the equipment in the mill, and stares off to the Mountain.
At dinner, Grandma says grace, asking for deliverance of their “lost lamb”. Wade eventually walks in. He tells Vera that he remembers how it used to be, and maybe they weren’t made for city life. He agrees to find her a piece of land on a mountain and build her a house. He tells John he’ll start work right after supper, but John says it can wait until morning. The family eats roast beef, mashed potatoes, and green beans.
"In time Wade earned enough through his wages at the mill to open his own woodcarving shop in the house he had long planned to build. Now that he was able to follow the work he loved most he became the husband and the father he had always planned to be on the day he and Vera were married".
Olivia: Yes Jim Bob?
Jim Bob: I can't sleep.
Olivia: Why not?
Jim Bob: You know that hula dancer Wade's got tattooed on his arm?
Jim Bob: Well I got one on my arm now.
Olivia: You'd better be joking....
Jim Bob: I drew it on in indelible ink. I've been scrubbing and scrubbing it and it won't come off.
Information about Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy can be found at: http://www.the-forum.com/toys/mccarthy.htm and http://www.otrcat.com/bergenmccarthy.htm.
Grip magazine does have a web site, but it is currently under construction: http://www.gripmagazine.com/
The city of Afton is mentioned, but no city actually exists in Virginia.
The mentioned cities of Norfolk, Newsport News, and Richmond are all cities in Virginia, all near the Atlantic coast.
Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Sheriff Ep Bridges (John Crawford); Vera Walton (Linsay V. Jones); Wade Walton (Richard Hatch); Floyd Walton (not mentioned); Paulson (Burton Gillian); Corky (John Bellah); The Worker (Tom Bush); Pete (Paul Linke).