Episode 17: The Love Story


(18 January 1973)

Writer: Earl Hamner.

Director: Lee Philips.

Music: Jerry Goldsmith.


The Love Story


"Waltons Mountain by day was friendly, but by night ghosts seemed to hide in every shadow and the feeling of something old and mysterious flowed downward on the cold night wind. And if we were walking homeward past a house that was known to be haunted, you couldn't help but be a little apprehensive".


After dark, John-Boy is walking by the Pendleton place when he observes a light in one of the windows. Knowing the house is empty John-Boy whistles, and then watches the light disappear. Back home, the family watch Mary Ellen excitedly describes her latest business venture that she discovered in Liberty magazine: raising frogs in a tadpole farm. John-Boy returns home and tells his father about his experiences at the Pendleton place. John has agreed to look after the place for Dave Pendleton, so decides to take a look with John-Boy after supper. When the pair enters the house they find a girl playing the harpsichord, but scare her with their presence. John introduces himself and his son, saying he is taking care of the place for Dave Pendleton. The girl announces that she is Jenny Pendleton, Dave’s daughter. Finding out that Dave and his new wife, Eula, are arriving in a few days, Jenny accepts John’s invitation to stay with the family.


The Walton girls talk with Jenny in their bedroom, and name one of the tadpoles after her. In his bedroom, John-Boy writes in his journal about Jenny: “… and she is about the prettiest thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. I suspect she is in trouble of some kind and I know Momma and Daddy think she has run away from home….” The family says ‘goodnight’ to each other with Jenny wondering if the family does this ritual every night. Mary Ellen says they do. In the morning John and Olivia hear Reckless barking and soon find that Sheriff Bridges is at the back door. Upon telling them that Dave Pendleton called from Richmond to say his daughter has run away, Olivia says that Jenny is asleep upstairs. After some coffee, Ep leaves to tell Dave the news. Olivia then calls up to the children in order to wake them up. Jenny is the first to walk downstairs. Later she gathers eggs with Elizabeth, swings with Elizabeth and Ben, and dusts after Grandma places an old fashion cap on her head. Jenny finds Olivia wrapping Ben’s injured finger, then asks Olivia if she can stay. Olivia welcomes her, then tells her that her father knows by now where she is, relating the story about the sheriff and her father. Just then Elizabeth runs in and Jenny tickles her, saying she is going to be one of the family. She then goes upstairs to dust in John-Boy’s room. With John-Boy writing in his tablet, Jenny wonders if he is writing about her. He can’t admit what he wrote, but they do discuss what they want to do with her lives. John-Boy also plays a dulcimer that Old Man Dolsom loaned to him.


That night John walks to answer a knock at the front door. He finds Dave Pendleton and his new wife, Eula, looking for his daughter. The family is reintroduced to Dave, who has been gone for nine years, and introduced to Eula. Dave says that Jenny is “too old to be spanked, and too young to be put in jail” for running away, so just hugs her. Dave announces they are opening up the old house, and will be staying a few days. Jenny leaves with them, but reminds John-Boy that he has promised to take her up on the Mountain tomorrow. At the Pendleton place, Dave looks for more candles as Eula tells Jenny that as a second wife she must “live with a ghost”. Early in the morning Jenny ask John and Olivia how they first met. John states that they grew up together, but at first he thought she was too prissy and Olivia said he was “the wickedest boy in town”. But John said they fell in love in high school. John-Boy walks downstairs and asks permission to take Jenny to the Mountain. Olivia realizes they are attracted to each other, suggesting the children accompany them. But John-Boy finds that the children are busy filling the frog pond with three hundred tadpoles, so John-Boy and Jenny walk up to the Mountain alone.


John-Boy shows Jenny the remains of Rome and Rebecca Lee’s homestead. They act like they are the pioneering couple, when unexpectedly they hug each other, and kiss. They spend the rest of the day falling in love. That night as the family gathers for supper John warns them that John-Boy may act strangely because he is in love with Jenny. When John-Boy enters, the kids giggle and ask him if he’s in love. John tells his son that he should celebrate at being in love. Jenny and Eula talk on the porch when Dave walks up. Eula needs more cigarettes so the pair leaves to find a store. Jenny stays, expecting a visit from John-Boy. Back at the house, Reckless barks at a raccoon found eating tadpoles in the pond. John-Boy and Jenny talk about their future together, with John-Boy speaking about far-away places and Jenny about raising a family. They tell each other that they love the other, when a whippoorwill sings its lonely sound, possibly of a lost partner. They say ‘goodnight’ early so Jenny can return to the house early tomorrow morning.


Later, Ep arrives to tell the family that Dave was killed and Eula injured in an accident while driving on Route 29. He says that when he told Jenny the girl ran away. John-Boy races off to find her. Later, Jenny is bedridden at the Walton house, in shock about the experience. Doc Shackleford tells the family that she is physically fine, but mentally can’t admit her father’s death. Grandpa, Grandma, and Mary Ellen visit the frog pond to find all the frogs are gone. Grandpa realizes the frogs are “peepers, tree frogs”. Mary Ellen exclaims, “Three hundred million dollars up a tree!” She leaves to look for the correct tadpoles. As John-boy watches over Jenny, the children say ‘goodnight’ throughout the house. John-Boy says, “Goodnight, Jenny”. She finally awakens, accepting the death of the father, and cries in John-Boy’s arms.


Several days later a recuperating Eula and Jenny prepare to leave Walton’s Mountain. Jenny has not told John-Boy of her departure, wanting the final days to be happy. They meet at the old homestead, where Jenny presents John-Boy with one of the finest dulcimers made. They act out parting ways as Rome and Rebecca Lee, and Jenny walks away from John-Boy.


"Jenny was to come into our lives again, but the promises we made to each other we were not to keep. Still, her name and her face are remembered in our house and the memory of Jenny is as sad and as sweet as the cry of a nightbird drifting across the new green fields of spring".


John: Still awake, son?

John-Boy: Yes, Daddy.

John: Well, wish I could tell you it's going to hurt a little less tomorrow.

John-Boy: Yes sir.

John: But I don't think it will.

John-Boy: Yes sir.

John: 'Night, son.

John-Boy: Yes sir.



Old Man Dolsom is said to build dulcimers in the area. For more information on dulcimers, go to http://www.cybozone.com/luthier/instruments/dulcimer.html

The family eats meat loaf the night that John-Boy is found by the family to be in love with Jenny.

John-Boy sings to Jenny these two songs:

“I plant me a red and rosy bush,

I plant me a green willow tree.

To prove to all who come this way,

That she has forsaken me.”


“When I was young and I was gay,

I loved her long and well.

But the sum that loving has brought me,

No human touch can tell.

Oh, seen yond lonesome little turtle dove,

He is swinging on that yonder vine.

As I do mourn for mine,

Oh, hush you lest you break my heart.

For no one will I cry,

Ten thousand lovers have already parted,

So why not you and I.

So why not you and I.”

NOTE 1: This episode was nominated for two Emmy awards: one for Lee Philips as best director and the other for Earl Hamner Jr. as best writer.

NOTE 2: During this episode, John-Boy plays a dulcimer and sings a folk song to Jenny. As a going away present, Jenny buys John-Boy a dulcimer of his own.

NOTE 3: Sian Barbara Allen was to return in season 2 to reprise her role as Jenny Pendleton during the two-hour episode of The Thanksgiving Story.


Also appearing:

Sheriff Ep Bridges (John Crawford), Doc Shackleford (Byron Morrow), Jenny Pendleton (Sian Barbara Allen), Dave Pendleton (Gordon Rigsby), Eula Pendleton (Diane Shalet).


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