Episode 5 - The Typewriter

(First USA transmission 12 October 1972)

Writer: Theodore Apstein.

Director: Philip Leacock.

Music: Jerry Goldsmith.


The Typewriter


"From the very beginning when I thought of writing, it was about my family, our home, and Waltons Mountain. This was my world, the only kind of life I knew well enough to tell people about. I remember a day in the 1930s when I finally felt ready to show one of my stories to someone for the very first time".


At school John-Boy shows his teacher, Miss Hunter, a story he wrote. It’s the first time the fledgling writer has showed his writings to anyone, and John-Boy is nervous. Miss Hunter reads the story and tells him that aside from a few grammatical errors it is a “very moving” and “wonderful” story. She suggests that he submit it to a magazine for publication. John-Boy says “just like a real writer!” whereupon Miss Hunter responds, “You’re a real writer—young, inexperienced—but the talent is there, the gift is there.” At home John-Boy hand copies the story several times so it will be just right for Collier’s magazine. Grandma walks into his bedroom with a mailing envelope. She tells her grandson that his grandpa has already given him his inheritance (John-Boy’s Meadow), but she wants to leave him the stories that her family told around the fireplace. John-Boy remarks that Miss Hunter said a writer’s talent is a gift, and now he knows where that gift came from. John-Boy says, “I cherish you, Grandma!” and Esther responds, “And I you boy!”


In the morning John-Boy leaves to mail the envelope at Ike’s store. The children walk with him, wanting to carry the envelope along the way. Inside the store the children tell Ike that John-Boy is submitting his story to Collier’s. The Baldwin sisters overhear the conversation and congratulate John-Boy on his early success. After the ladies leave the store, Ike weighs the letter at between three and four ounces. John-Boy decides to pay the twelve cents for the heavier weight to assure that it arrives. Mary Ellen decides to put down a deposit of one-dollar on a “super-deluxe” beauty kit endorsed by Hollywood movie stars. The children all say “ta-ta” to Ike after Mary Ellen impersonates a movie star saying good-bye.


Grandma gives Grandpa a haircut while John-Boy ponders where his letter is located on its trip from Charlottesville to New York City. John calls out to John-Boy to help fill an order. As Grandpa, John, and John-Boy load firewood onto the truck bed, John asks John-Boy what he writes about. John-Boy declares that he is writing about the family, but John doesn’t think there is much that they really do. John-Boy says it would take a lifetime to write about all their interesting things. Later at Ike’s store Grandpa and Ike listen to Ma Perkins on the radio while John-Boy continues to worry about his letter. Ike is tired of him incessantly asking about the letter. That night John and Olivia wonder if their son will ever have a story published. When Olivia doesn’t believe her son is writing about the family, John says there is plenty to write about when the “biggest heathen in the county is with the prettiest member of the Baptist church choir”. That topic makes Olivia ask John why he hasn’t become baptized.


Ike yells to John-Boy that the Collier’s letter has finally arrived. With the family gathered around, John-Boy opens the letter to find that the story was not read. The response letter states that all stories must be typewritten. Unable to afford a typewriter John-Boy is disappointed. Grandpa asks John-Boy to help him search an old chest in the attic. John-Boy finds a typewritten letter from Judge Baldwin. Knowing that the Baldwin sisters never threw anything away that belonged to their ‘Daddy’, Grandpa suggests that John-Boy visit the ladies. At the Baldwin house the sisters show John-Boy the old typewriter upon which their papa composed a letter to Woodrow Wilson. John-Boy asks to borrow it, but the sisters are reluctant to let anybody use their papa’s typewriter. John-Boy tells them that his story is about the time he went looking for his daddy at Christmastime and stopped by their house for the Recipe. When Miss Mamie and Miss Emily find that the story is about their Recipe and that ‘treacherous Yankees’ will only accept a typed article, they decide to loan it to him. John-Boy arrives late for supper after secretively placing the typewriter in the shed. The family kids him that he was late because of a girlfriend. After typing the story numerous times, John-Boy shows the final draft to Miss Hunter. She feels he should attend college, but John-Boy knows that his father expects him to help bring in money after high school graduation.


Mary Ellen looks for ways to make money. Olivia agrees to pay her to clean the tool shed, knowing the junkman will soon stop by. Mary Ellen finds a box of junk (that contains the typewriter). Unknowingly Mary Ellen sells the box to Vern Rutley. At the same time John-Boy takes his finished story to Ike for mailing. Ike makes John-Boy promise not to ask him twice a day whether the response letter has arrived. When John-Boy looks for the typewriter he finds it missing. He storms into the house, wondering what is going on. When Mary Ellen hears about the typewriter she confesses that she sold the box to Vern for one dollar. John-Boy becomes angry with his sister. John and John-Boy look for Rutley, first stopping by Ike’s where the sheriff says Vern is having dinner at one of the honky-tonks along Route 29. When they find him he has sold the box to Davidson, a junk dealer who travels across the country. The pair return empty-handed, where John-Boy confesses he dreads the thought of telling the Baldwin sisters what has happened.


Sheriff Bridges finds Mary Ellen walking along the road after learning that Rutley found Davidson who sold the typewriter to a Charlottesville office. Mary Ellen and Ep drive to find the typewriter. After looking at Arnold Printers, a warehouse, the house of a night janitor, and a junkyard they locate the typewriter at an antique store. During this time John-Boy confesses to the Baldwin sisters that he lost the typewriter. Miss Emily is especially shocked at the news, but Miss Mamie tries to rationalize that it is only a material object.


At home John-Boy learns that Mary Ellen is upset about the typewriter and is currently missing. John-Boy races to Ike’s store to look for her. Ike gives John-Boy the Collier’s letter that just arrived, but this time John-Boy is more concerned with his sister’s safety. Returning home John-Boy finds that Mary Ellen has returned with the typewriter, but has paid a “mighty steep price” for its return, owing the sheriff six dollars. John-Boy tells the family that his story was rejected as not suiting their present needs. The family supports their son saying that the letter indicated (they) “read it with interest” and “want to hear more stories”. John-Boy thinks the family is making him sound like another Shakespeare. Olivia says, “Maybe you are”.


"My family managed to turn my first rejection slip into some sort of victory. I started typing again that evening and I've been typing stories ever since, but no typewriter ever came to mean as much to me, as that old machine I borrowed from Miss Mamie and Miss Emily Baldwin".


John: Bed time, son. Lights out pretty soon?
John-Boy: Just finish this sentence, Daddy.



The sign outside the school states “Walton’s Mountain School, Jefferson Co. Virginia”.

The Walton’s Mountain (first) schoolteacher, Miss Rosemary Hunter, is introduced in this episode.

Additional information on Collier’s magazine can be found at: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAcolliers.htm.

The sign outside Ike’s store states “U.S. Post Office Walton’s Mountain Virginia”.

The Baldwin sister’s cousin Raymond wrote risqué books that their papa wouldn’t let them read, adored basket weaving, and had to leave town after a scandal. Their Cousin Marvin had a twitch from dog fleas, and eventually died. Their Cousin Elvira was peculiar about chasing bats in her house.

The radio program Ma Perkins was originally heard as a local program on WLW Cincinnati from August 14 to December 1, 1933. The series then moved to the NBC network beginning December 4, 1933. More information can be found at: http://www.radiohof.org/adventuredrama/virginiapayne.html.

When Grandpa and John-Boy search the old chest in the attic Grandpa says that Matt was killed in the war. Matt is Grandpa’s brother (John-Boy’s great-uncle). Grandpa also mentions Amy who died of scarlet fever, but does not say what her relationship is to him.

The Baldwin sister’s Olivetti typewriter was bought new in 1908, the first typewriter in Jefferson County. Judge Baldwin typed a series of articles for the New York Times protesting the eighteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibited (effective January 16, 1920) the selling of alcoholic beverages.

On the night that John and John-Boy return from looking for Vern Rutley, Jim Bob announce that they are eating mashed potatoes, corn pudding, and egg-on-hash for supper.

Ashley Longworth is first mentioned in this episode as a long-lost suitor of Miss Emily.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley), Miss Mamie and Miss Emily Baldwin (Helen Kleeb and Mary Jackson), Sheriff Ep Bridges (John Crawford), Miss Rosemary Hunter (Mariclare Costello), Vernon Rutley the Junkman (George Tobias), Junkyard Owner (Harry Hickox), Clerk (Robert Shayne), Janitor (John Hawker), Office Supervisor (Elizabeth Harrower).


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