Episode 20: The Deed


(8 February, 1973)

Writer: James Menzies.

Director: Vincent Sherman.

Music: Alexander Courage.


The Deed


"Walton’s Mountain had been in our family since long before I was born, it was a mountain that gave of itself, we took trout from its swift streams, and we took from it constantly the lumber and firewood which provided our family with income. My grandfather used to say that the land was alive, that if you knew how to listen you could hear its voice, but at seventeen I did more talking than listening. I remember one morning during the Depression hiking with Grandpa searching for trees that were ready for harvesting".


John-Boy and Grandpa hike in the forest searching for appropriate trees to cut. Grandpa reminds his grandson to “cut down one (tree), then plant a couple”. Suddenly they walk upon two field surveyors, and wonder why the men are on their land. Samuel Tinker tells them that Packer Lumber has acquired the lumber rights to this section of land that has been left undeeded. Telling the men that they will produce a deed of record, Grandpa informs John-Boy that his (John-Boy’s) great-great-grandfather owned the land in 1789, cleared this meadow in 1796 and went to Buckingham County to buy a Guernsey milk cow; his Uncle Charley met with a bear on this land; and John Tyler Moore built the Rock Creek dam (losing a thumb in the process).


John and Grandpa discuss with attorney-at-law Wilson B. Guffy their legal right to the land in question. Guffy indicates that the Walton’s entries from the family Bible and numerous last will-and-testaments can be used only in Judge Gider’s court to reclaim the land. Unfortunately, Guffy announces that the process is expensive at two hundred dollars. The men find that Mr. Moffett at the First National Bank of Charlottesville will not loan them money without collateral.


Back home, the family collects forty-six dollars, seventy-five cents. Short of the necessary money, the children offer to find jobs and sell their valuables (Ben says he could get a job as delivery boy at Huck Feenie’s Ice House.). Mary Ellen admits she found an antique teapot from the house at Mount Octal supposedly designed by Thomas Jefferson. John-boy offers to leave school and find a job in Wheeling, West Virginia after finding job openings in the newspaper. John doesn’t allow his children to sell their treasures and to work, saying it is his duty to provide for his family. Unseen by his parents, John-Boy listen to John and Olivia express their despair and anger at what has happened.


While Grandma irons Mary Ellen talks about doing something important to help the family, but feels at age thirteen years old that she is doing nothing. Grandma suggests doing chores. John-Boy has gone against his father’s wishes and caught a ride with Yancy Tucker to Wheeling. Before taking John-Boy to Mrs. Vandenberg’s Boarding House, Yancy stops at Doud’s Tattoo Parlor to negotiate some mysterious business. John-Boy looks on as Yancy carries boxes, when suddenly Yancy drives away (with his suitcase) and two men flee the front door. The owner runs out after being held up, but doesn’t want police involvement. At Mrs. Vandenberg’s house, John-Boy finds his suitcase on her porch, and then learns that a room will cost four dollars a week without meals and thirteen dollars, fifty cents with meals. He opts for the cheaper rate, then is told the two rules of the house: always be a gentlemen and no cooking in the room.


After finding a spacious bedroom John-Boy begins to eat one of his homemade sandwiches, then realizes that eating in the room may be against the rules. He learns from Mrs. Vanderberg that eating is acceptable, but then spills his sack of food on the dining room floor. Cissy helps him pick up the food, admitting she is from Jefferson County. Later, John-Boy is writing to Mary Ellen about the world beyond Walton’s Mountain: “Dear Mary Ellen, I’m thinking of you and how you are always dreaming of the world beyond Walton’s Mountain. I can tell you that it is very different. People who barely know each other sleep in adjoining rooms. Each is locked in its own life, and seem lonely, The city at night is close to Camelot….” Monty interrupts his letter to inform him that he might be able to get him a job at the Slaughter Machine Shop. John-Boy continues the letter: “The best news is that I may be getting a job tomorrow morning. I’ll let you know later.


Back home Olivia and Mary Ellen bring lunch to the men, but John is angry with Jason for burning out the points of the motor. He catches himself, says he is sorry, and finally admits that they will not make their deadline, still over one hundred dollars short. Mary Ellen waits for Vernon Rutledge, the junkman, along the road, asking him to sell the teapot for at least ten dollars. He agrees to meet her at this spot at 2:30 pm on Saturday after going to a Charlottesville dealer that morning.


Friday night John-Boy eats a bowl of soup (that he bought for five cents) while sneaking out one of his sandwiches. Monty arrives to suggest they drink a couple of beers at the New Yorker Inn, but John-Boy admits he must send ten dollars home, give Monty’s mother four dollars for rent, and live off the rest of the eighteen dollars next week. As the two boys leave the restaurant two men hold them up. John-Boy refuses to give up his money, and is beaten up. At the police station a bruised John-Boy reports the assault and his stolen money. At the boarding house, John-Boy asks Mrs. Vandenberg if she will allow him to pay his rent later. After being swindled from other boarders, she refuses his suggestion but Cissy offers to loan him the money. John-Boy reluctantly agrees, and receives a kiss from the young woman. John reads a letter from his working son that admits he was beaten up and his money stolen. John-Boy asks for five dollars be sent.


Later in the week, John-Boy asks Cissy for a date to the movies, saying he has enough money. She agrees, but tells John-Boy that there are many types of kisses. As they walk toward the theatre showing Forty-Second Street John-Boy observes the two men that beat him up, now robbing the ticket booth of the theatre. He rushes the men, and tackles one of them. The police soon intercede, as Cissy screams at the incident.


Vernon presents Mary Ellen with a check for twenty-five dollars, minus his commission of fifteen percent. Back home John tallies the money to find they have one hundred forty dollars, still short sixty dollars. John-Boy then enters to the family’s surprise. He announces that he has fifty dollars, the reward for catching the robbers. Later, Grandpa announces outside the County Offices that they have a signed land deed. The family is relieved and happy that they were able to preserve their beloved land and way of life.


"I had lived in a city, known adventure, found friends and even been kissed by a pretty girl, but it was good to be home again, to know that special love and to hear those special voices".


Elizabeth: Can I come in, John-Boy?

John-Boy: Sure, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: I just wanted to see if you were really home.

John-Boy: I'm here, honey.

Elizabeth: I love you, John-Boy.

John-Boy: I love you, Elizabeth.



Grandpa says the family has owned the land since 1789. However, the Walton’s never claimed their land when the Land Act of 1850 was enacted.

Huck Finney’s icehouse is mentioned, as are Doud’s Tattoo Parlor and the New Yorker Inn.

John-Boy is lodged in the second-floor front bedroom.

Mrs. Vandenberg’s lodgers (besides John-Boy) are Mr. Peabody (men’s shoes), Mr. Crumb (buyer), Mr. Lynch (lady’s culinaries), Mrs. Wickes, Mrs. Portman, and Miss Brubaker. Mrs. Vandenberg’s son (Monty) also lives in the house.

Cissy Brubaker grew up in Hickory Creek, just six miles from Walton’s Mountain, where her father owns the livery stable. She has lived on her own in Wheeling for three months.

Hickory Creek is a small town in Fairfax County, Virginia. Hickory Creek also appears to be a tributary of the Rockfish River.

Monty Vandenberg is nineteen years old, and thinks Cissy is about twenty-two or twenty-three years old.


Also appearing:

Vernon Rutley (George Tobias), Yancy Tucker (Robert Donner), Cissy Brubaker (Jenny Sullivan), Monty Vanderberg (Randall Carver), Mrs. Vanderberg (Shirley O’Hara), Wilson B. Guffy (Garry Walberg), Samuel Tucker (Lew Brown), Mr. Moffatt (Robert Karnes), Police Sergeant (Russ Grieve), Bartender (Seamon Glass), Robber #1 (Bob Stephens), Robber #2 (Bob Bralver), Ringside Announcer (Stan Brown).


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