Episode: The Courtship


(25 January 1973)

Writer: Jeb Rosebrook.

Director: Harry Harris.

Music: Jerry Goldsmith.


The Courtship


"It was Spring on Walton’s Mountain, that special time when all of life seeks and finds its own renewal and strength. A time when the season, like the mountain, calls back those whose lives have taken them so many miles and years away from the land. One of those who was called back in that spring of 1933 was my mother's uncle. His name was Cody Nelson and he'd come all the way home from Cincinnati, Ohio".


John-Boy picks up Uncle Cody Nelson at the Rockfish bus stop. At home Grandma, Olivia, and Mary Ellen set the table, preparing supper for Cody who is returning to the area of his birth. At the same time Grandpa is fishing for the old catfish in the Rockfish River. At the supper table Olivia reminisces with Cody about growing up, specifically remembering being eight years old and watching Cody leave for college in Richmond. Cody mentions to Olivia that he is on vacation, not looking for a handout, since he has money outside a bank, with all the banks closed for lack of money. That night Grandma and Olivia discuss how to help Cody forget his problems. Grandpa suggests fishing, John suggests hunting, but Olivia thinks he needs a woman for stimulating conversation. When Olivia mentions Amy Pritchard, the county librarian, John-Boy says, “Now Momma!” John-Boy suggests Cordelia Hunnicut, a charming and lively lady.


The next day, John-Boy, Olivia, and Grandma drive to invite Cordelia for supper that night. At the same time, Grandpa, Cody, and Reckless fish for the old catfish. Cody states he is sixty-four years old today, after investing a lifetime of growing old and retiring at age sixty-five. Grandpa and Cody eat Macintosh apples while reminiscing about fishing, going to dances, and lazy Sunday afternoons. Cordelia serves hot tea, while telling John-Boy that a new author Erskine Caldwell has written a book God’s Little Acre. Although planning to go to The Tea Dance in Richmond, Cordelia accepts the Walton’s invitation. Cody catches the big catfish but falls in when trying to reel it in, and Grandpa falls in after him.


At supper Cordelia talks about her girlhood, remembering when Zeb protected her from Lester Richard and Freckles Clakeston. When Cody excuses himself, so he can listen to the radio, Cordelia observes his lovely watch, with the inscription “For twenty-five years of devoted loyalty and service – Great National Bank of Ohio”. The family then presents him with a birthday cake. Cody says it is the first such cake in thirty years. Cordelia holds his hand and says, “Then you have thirty years of wishes to come true!”


Later Cordelia and Cody return late from a date, with Cordelia asking Cody to go dancing tomorrow. Mary Ellen, Erin, and Elizabeth watch from their bedroom window, as they say goodnight. Olivia thinks she is working on her fifth husband, but John doesn’t know what to think. The next day Cordelia drives up in her red convertible, as John and Grandpa watch. Cordelia announces to Cody that she plans to introduce him to her good friends the Baldwin sisters. Later, they dance at The Rivana Club, where it’s ladies night. They dance into the night, holding each other close with Cordelia whispering into Cody’s ear. John-Boy writes in his journal, imagining himself Cody: “Is it possible he asked himself after all these years, could it be possible, he was loved by such a women? But why else would she seek out his company. Why else would she not allow a day to pass without being near him. What better reason than the time of a courtship which like the season had blossomed to steal their hearts, the uncertainty which could always await tomorrow.


On a picnic Cody and Cordelia kiss for the first time. Later, Olivia and John-Boy visit Cordelia to tell her that she needs to tell Cody about her past marriages. That afternoon Cordelia tells Cody that all four of her husbands were Virginians: the first was Venable Carleton from Albemarle County, who died from a heart attack in London; the second was Carter Queenfield Harrison of Lynchburg, a writer who she eventually divorced; the third was Tommy Chester, a graduate of VMI, a military man whom she also divorced; and the fourth was Augusta, a stockbroker, who committed suicide after the stock market crash. Judge Baldwin took care of the settlement, with only her house and car left from the estate. Cordelia asks Cody if he has ever been in love and says that if he is serious about her, then her “intentions are quite serious”.


After three days of pondering what she said, Cody is still sitting on the front porch. John-Boy announces to him that the President has ordered the banks open, but Cody says that it will only be a few Federal Reserve banks in select cities. Olivia and Grandma know he is leaving tomorrow and are unsure what didn’t happen between the two was the right thing. Cody remembers the past few days with Cordelia, and then makes his decision. He gets John-Boy to drive him to buy a plain, gold wedding band. Inside Cordelia’s house, Cody explains his situation. With fifteen million people out of work, Cody says that if he gets his job back he makes one hundred dollars a month; and lives in a one bedroom apartment in the university section of Cincinnati that costs twenty-five dollars a month. Cody asks Cordelia to become his first wife. Cordelia pauses, and then says, “Cody, I love you.”


The wedding is held at the Walton house, where Elizabeth is the flower girl, the Baldwin sisters are the bride’s maids, John-Boy is best man, Grandpa gives away the bride, Rev. Fordwick officiates the ceremony, and Grandma plays the Wedding March on the piano. Afterwards, the couple is wished the best as they leave for their honeymoon, and as the Baldwin sisters take everyone’s picture.


"Cody's bank did re-open, and he was hired back to his old job in the Accounting Department. There he remained until his retirement a year later. Great Uncle Cody died in 1953, and Cordelia followed him within six months. There are many who believe that she died of a broken heart".


Ben: John-Boy, what happens if you get married to a girl and find out you don't like her?

John-Boy: Better make sure you love her before you get married, Ben.

Ben: Yeh but maybe there's things you might not know about her, that maybe she sleeps with her Teddy Bear or snores or wears socks to bed.

John-Boy: If you really love her you'll put up with such things, Ben.

Ben: Yuck.

John-Boy: Goodnight, Ben.

Ben: Goodnight, John-Boy.



The episode occurs spring 1933.

Amy Pritchard is the county librarian, who had some sort of an ‘encounter’ with an Encyclopedia Britannica salesman. She is suggested as a possible companion to Uncle Cody.

Widow Aldemen Trimain is also mentioned as a possible companion to Uncle Cody.

Uncle Clarence is mentioned as a relative at (Olivia’s) family reunions who made sure the preacher was on hand to perform baptisms.

Cody Nelson is Olivia’s uncle, who for the last twenty-nine years has been employed at an accountant with the Great National Bank of Ohio in Cincinnati. Cody is from Howardsville, Virginia, sixty-four years old in 1933, and is single, having never married. Cody hung around with the Springer boys at Carter’s Bridge while growing up.

Cordelia Hunnicut had four husbands before Cody: (1) Venable Carleton from Albemarle County, who died from a heart attack in London; (2) Carter Queenfield Harrison of Lynchburg, a writer who she eventually divorced; (3) Tommy Chester, a graduate of VMI, a military man who she also divorced; and (4) Augusta, a stockbroker, who committed suicide after the stock market crash.

The seventy-third Congress is in session.

Information about author Erskine Caldwell can be found at http://id.mind.net/~fletch/.

To learn more about The Wedding March, go to http://www.rain.org/~karpeles/wedmchdis.html.

Cody died in 1953, and Cordelia died six months later.

Note: Eduard Franz (who plays Cody in this episode) re-appears in The Collision (Season 4 episode 24) this time as a retired colonel.


Also appearing:

Rev. Matthew Fordwick (John Ritter), Miss Mamie and Miss Emily Baldwin (Helen Kleeb and Mary Jackson), (Sheriff Ep Bridges (John Crawford), Cody Nelson (Eduard Franz), Cordelia Hunnicut (Danna Hansen).


(synopsis written by William Atkins and edited by Arthur Dungate)