Episode 16 - The Burden

(25 Jan 1979)
Writer: E.F.Wallengren.
Director: Harry Harris.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"Along with the rest of the country, 1942 brought great upheaval to Waltons Mountain. Each day the news from the battle fronts grew more and more grim while here at home defense plants worked around the clock to produce the weapons of war. In our home we suffered a personal tragedy for our mother was away recovering from a serious illness. It was a time of great trial for each of us, but especially for Jim Bob".


Mary Ellen finally turns off the radio, not wishing to listen to the grim events of the war. The family wonders why Jim Bob missed supper, another worry after running with rowdy friends since Olivia left. Elizabeth is collecting fireflies for a school project much to the dismay of Erin. After Jim Bob drives up Mary Ellen confronts him about his reckless ways. Jim Bob retorts, ‘You’re not my Mama!’ John scolds his youngest son after receiving a warning from his teacher about horsing around. John warns Jim Bob that he got a rowdy reputation when he was about the same age and couldn’t escape it for years.


Elizabeth is now trapping luna moths in a cage on the front porch. Corabeth is nearly run over by Jim Bob as he and Tinker drive in front of Godsey’s Hall. She rushes to tell John about Jim Bob repeatedly driving too fast. Jim Bob drives up to catch the end of Corabeth’s scolding. He apologizes saying his brakes are not working well. John tells Jim Bob to immediately fix them. Grandma notices that Jim Bob is working with only a jack holding up the car. John yells to properly brace the car. Suddenly the car gives way trapping Jim Bob underneath. The family pulls him out, fortunately uninjured. John exclaims, ‘Someone up there is watching out for you!’ Later, Jason talks with Jim Bob about what happened. Jim Bob believes the incident is a sign from God but Jason thinks his brother was saved due to the shape of the car’s underbody.


Early Sunday morning, Jim Bob visits Rev. Bradshaw, the new Baptist pastor. At Sunday services the minister announces to a shocked family and congregation that Jim Bob wants to become a minister. That afternoon Elizabeth finds Jim Bob reading from the Book of Leviticus. While Elizabeth learns to become a scientist, Jim Bob seeks the path of religion.


Ben attempts to convince Jim Bob to join him on a sinful night on the town. Ben sheepishly explains to Grandma after overhearing them that he was only joking. Grandma presents Jim Bob with the Bible she received as a girl. He reads the inscription, ‘To our beloved Easter on the day of your baptism, July 11, 1883. Love, Mama and Papa.’ Jim Bob says it is the best gift he ever received because she believes in him.


Jim Bob visits Professor Hoadley at Boatwright College in order to prepare for his Bible studies. But the Professor states that he will first need a four-year undergraduate degree before being considered for the seminary. Jim Bob is disappointed that he cannot proceed straight to graduate studies in the ministry. Professor Hoadley believes Jim Bob should reconsider his vocational choice.


When Jim Bob returns home, he confesses the difficulty that he encountered at the college. Deciding to eliminate all of his worldly possessions he presents Ben with his car. Later he gives Erin his short-wave radio and Elizabeth his aviator cap. He also tells Elizabeth she should decide whether to be a Baptist or a scientist. She responds back that she thinks she can be both.


In the morning, Elizabeth’s crickets have escaped. The children make a ruckus trying to catch them so John reminds them they need to work together while their mother is gone. At the same time, Jim Bob leaves the house after deciding to forge his own way. But in front of the Baptist church, Jim Bob runs into Tinker who has been drinking all night. Tinker convinces Jim Bob that he needs to be saved and leads him into the church. But Tinker confuses Jim Bob on just how he is supposed to be a righteous man. When Tinker calls him ‘high and mighty’ Jim Bob takes a swing at him. Tinker then accuses him of fighting in church.


The family finds the note that Jim Bob left. John thinks it might be best just to let him go. But Grandma feels guilty for providing the Bible passage that he used as an excuse to run off. John comforts his mother saying Jim Bob is only hurting because his Moma is gone. Elizabeth finds a Luna moth inside her cage, but it is dead. She decides that Jim Bob was right, that living things should not be kept in jars and cages. While releasing her insects Elizabeth finds Jim Bob on the banks of the little pond. John approaches to tell his son that all jobs are equally important. Jim Bob says that he was told to become a preacher when his life passed before him, as he lay trapped under his car. Finally Jim Bob confesses that he feels if he had been a better person then Grandpa might not died, Grandma might not had a stroke, Curt would not been killed, and his mother would not gotten sick. John reassures Jim Bob that a person cannot blame himself for things that happen in life, that it is not correct to place yourself at the center of life.


"Although Jim Bob never beacame a preacher his deeply religious experience added an important dimension to his life, and to his relationship to our father. In the years to come his faith became a source of strength to all those who knew him".


Ben: Thanks for fixing my car, Jim Bob.
Jim Bob: Whose car, Ben?
Erin: Jim Bob, will you show me how to work my shortwave radio?
Jim Bob: I didn't know you had a shortwave radio Erin.
Elizabeth: My new goggles are great for sealing up my insects, Jim Bob. They make me look like one!
Jim Bob: Your goggles, Elizabeth?
Ben: Now Jim Bob, you know that God loveth a cheerful giver! Second Corinthians, Chapter 9 verse 7.
Jim Bob: Yes, but what the former preacher giveth, the former preacher taketh away. Jim Bob Chapter 1, verse 2.
Everyone: Goodnight Jim Bob....



Rev. Bradshaw, the fourth Baptist minister to appear in The Waltons, is introduced in this episode. He replaces Rev. Andrew March who replaced Rev. Buchanan, the second minister. Rev. Matthew Fordwick was the original minister at the Waltons Mountain Baptist church.

The license plates on Jim Bob’s car are 678-795 Virginia.

In the movie Spencer’s Mountain Clay Spencer (a.k.a., John Walton) is adamant about never allowing one of his children become a minister. John’s reaction is not typical of the opinion first expressed by Clay.

Grandma’s Bible was published in Philadelphia in 1870.

Corabeth’s brother, Albert, is a minister who graduated from Jerome College in Savannah.


Also appearing:

Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Rev. Bradshaw (Nolan Leary); Professor Hoadley (Ivor Francis); Tinker (Tony Moran).