Episode 1 - The Foundling

(14 Sep 1972)

Writer: John McGreevey.

Director: Vincent Sherman.

Music: Jerry Goldsmith

The Foundling

"When I was growing up during the Depression I lived with my red-headed brothers and sisters, my parents and grandparents at the foot of a mountain which had been in our family for generations. My father used to say that in our house there was always room for one more. And I remember one morning when his hospitality was put to a challenging test".


Early one morning a woman places a sleeping child on the cellar door outside the Walton house. Everyone is still asleep, except for Reckless. Olivia comes downstairs to find Grandpa and Grandma drinking coffee. Olivia yells upstairs for John-Boy to milk the cow. When he walks outside John-Boy finds the little girl. Grandpa, Grandma, and Olivia wonder where she came from. Olivia carries her inside, where John tells the family at the breakfast table that the girl is getting a bath. The children talk about the girl. Elizabeth asks John, “Daddy, where did you find me?” He answers, “Hidin’ behind one of your Momma’s smiles, honey.” Olivia brings down the child, saying her name is “Holly” according to a nametag. While the half-starved child eats breakfast Olivia says she feels something is wrong with her. John thinks they should take her to Sheriff Bridges. Later, Ep says he has never before seen her. He suggests taking her to the county home, but Olivia wants to take her to the doctor. Dr. Dan Holloway finds that Holly is healthy, but deaf. He recommends teaching her “finger alphabet”, and refuses to bill John for the visit.


At school John-Boy recites one of his poems to Marcia Woolery. He tells Marcia that he was inspired to write the poem, but she mistakes his feelings for drinking wine. At the house Mary Ellen and Erin ask why Holly can’t stay with them. Olivia tells them that they cannot afford another mouth to feed. Sheriff Bridges stops by to take Holly to the county home. But John decides to keep the child, at least for a while, after seeing the expressions on everyone’s face. With Holly’s mother looking on, John invites Ep inside for coffee. Mary Ellen attempts to teach Holly sign language with alphabet blocks but can’t get through to her.


At school, Marcia becomes mad at John-Boy after Kitty Lou says that John-Boy is making fun of her. John-Boy is confused. After school Mary Ellen, Erin, Jim Bob, Elizabeth, and Holly enter the store as Ike reads Liberty magazine. Ike learns they want two cents of candy, finally deciding on licorice. Jim Bob decides to keep his birthday quarter after looking at dominos. Elizabeth tells Ike she hates licorice, so he gives her gumdrops. The children walk past the “haunted” house, on the way home. Inside the house is Holly’s mother. As Ruth walks outside her husband Anson drives up searching for them. Anson tells her that he wants to place Holly in the county home because she is a “throwaway”. Ruth pleads to give her more time. He relents, giving her until Friday to find a good home for Holly.


John-Boy makes happy and sad faces at Holly, hoping she will associate the sign with each face. When Holly understands, John-Boy races downstairs with her. In front of the family Holly says, 'Happy'. The family congratulates Holly, all except Elizabeth who doesn’t know what to think about the attention. Later John-Boy writes in his diary that Holly must feel homesick. He also admits his love for Marcia. With the power of his pen failing, he decides on a direct approach. The next day at school John-Boy gives Marcia a kiss on the cheek. Marcia acts upset at first but wonders why he likes her. When John-Boy tells her why he wrote poetry to her, Marcia says kissing is a lot more fun. He gives her another kiss, this time on the lips.


Ike is shaving Zabez when Mary Ellen, Erin, Jim Bob, and Holly ask for some starch and bluing for their Momma. Jim Bob decides to buy Holly a toy with his quarter. When Holly shows Olivia her new present, Elizabeth exclaims that nobody pays her any attention. Grandma says it won’t do her any harm to feel she’s “not the only pebble on the beach”. Elizabeth watches Holly play with the other children. In the distance Ruth watches her daughter, but is observed by John-Boy. Elizabeth walks down the road, and is followed by Holly. Elizabeth tells her to go back, saying, “They want you, not me”. John-Boy speaks to the woman, wondering if she is Holly’s mother. When she begins to cry, John-Boy suggests she talk with his parents.


At Ike’s store Anson asks Ike if he has seen any newcomers. Other than the Russell baby, Ike says he has only seen a little girl at the Waltons. Ike then gives Anson directions. At the same time Elizabeth runs into the haunted house, hiding inside an empty trunk. Suddenly the lid falls shut, trapping Elizabeth inside. Holly sees what happened and runs for help. But outside she runs into her father, who sits her inside his truck. She tries to tell him what happened, but he doesn’t understand. At the house, Ruth tells the family why she left Holly at their house. The family tells Ruth that she can learn sign language in order to speak with her daughter. Just then Ben and Jason race inside, telling their parents that Elizabeth and Holly has run off. John drives to search for them, joined by Mary Ellen and Erin. When Anson stops for gas, Ike sees that father and daughter has been reunited. After they leave John drives up, looking for the girls. Ike tells John what just happened. John chases after, eventually catching them. Mary Ellen and Erin learn from Holly that Elizabeth is trapped in a box at the Halstead house. John rescues Elizabeth, saying she is okay thanks to Holly. Anson looks at his daughter as John tells him to follow them home where his wife is waiting. Olivia tells everyone that Elizabeth is fine, ready for school tomorrow. The Colliers decide to return home, thanking the Waltons for their help. John says, “Holly squared all accounts today!” Holly gives Elizabeth her toy, saying “Yours”. Elizabeth gives it back, saying “Ours”. Anson then says “Holly” to his daughter in sign language and the Waltons says goodbye to the family as they drive off. Ben then finds a present on the porch step. Mary Ellen says, “it’s a gingerbread” from Marcia Woolery. She wonders what the note says, but John-Boy will only admit that is it, “pure poetry”.


"Those were lean years, and for many Americans a harsh and bitter time. On Waltons Mountain we were sustained with poems and gingerbread and laughter and sharing, but most of all by a remarkable mother and father. The house in which we were born and raised is still there, still home, and on the winds that sigh along those misted blue ridged mountains our voices must echo still".


Ben: John Boy, you awake?
John-Boy: What'd you want, Ben?
Ben: Are you going to marry Marcia Woolery?
John-Boy: You want me to?
Ben: She makes good gingerbread.
John-Boy: Huh huh. Well I'll think about it. Goodnight now.
Ben: Goodnight.



Elizabeth’s doll is named “Miss Margaret”.

Marcia Woolery is John-Boy’s first girlfriend. She is the first girl that he kisses (in the TV series).

Dr. Dan Holloway is the local doctor.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley), Sheriff Ep Bridges (John Crawford), Marcia Woolery (Tammi Bula), Dr. Dan Holloway (G.J. Mitchell), Ruth Collier (Charlotte Stewart), Anson Collier (Richard Kelton), Holly Collier (Erica Hunton).


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