Episode 14 - The Obstacle

(11 January 1979)
Writer: Curtis Dwight.
Director: William Bushnell Jr.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"In the Spring of 1942 the war that engulfed the world beyond Waltons Mountain touched our family in many ways. It was a time of farewells and reunions, shortages and news of battles and places with exotic names like Bataan, Corregidor, Wade Island and Midway. It was a time when my family was to come face to face with the cruelty of war as well as the courage it inspired to overcome its aftermath. It was also a time when Americans everywhere united to contribute to the war effort in any way they could".


Mary Ellen and Erin arrive home with groceries in time to observe Ben and Ike rehearsing for an upcoming USO audition. Jason is accompanying them on the piano after learning that the USO came to the Kleinberg Conservatory looking for talent. The girls also bring a letter from John-Boy who is stationed in the London-Times Building for the military newspaper Stars and Stripes. John-Boy is concerned about Mike Paxton, his college roommate at Boatwright College. While in the Merchant Marines his friend was shot down over the North Atlantic, and then transferred to the naval hospital near Richmond, Virginia. After sending several letters, John-Boy became concerned after hearing no response from Mike. Mary Ellen volunteers to find out his condition from a doctor friend. After bumping into J.D. Pickett outside the hospital, Mary Ellen is told by Dr. Sanders that Mike is physically ready to leave but mentally thinks people will stare at him confined to a wheelchair. Mary Ellen convinces Mike to visit Walton’s Mountain with hopes of lifting his confidence.


Jason tells Olivia that he is setting time aside from his regular music studies in order to write popular musical arrangements for Ben and Ike. Professor Collier believes he can help Jason become assigned to a band unit within the military in order to entertain the troops. Olivia likes the idea that he would use his talents, like John-Boy, while in the military.


The family is initially shocked to see Mike in a wheelchair except Grandma who is familiar with disabilities. While Mary Ellen settles Mike into the shed, Erin suggests he apply for a job at Picketts. Mike replies, ‘Who would hire me?’ Mary Ellen counters, ‘Aren’t you getting tired of feeling sorry for yourself?’ In order for Mike to get around, Ben and Jim Bob build a ramp from the shed to the house. In the morning, Mike is surprised to find the new passageway. He navigates the length of the ramp, his first success. Mike then eats a hearty breakfast and says thanks to the family for their help. From her experiences, Grandma realizes that Mike needs to feel useful. She insists that Mike help with washing the dishes. John adds that he needs help loading lumber and Olivia wants him to fix some broken items around the house.


The team of ‘Godsey and Walton’ rehearse their In the Mood number for Elizabeth, Erin, Mike, and Jim Bob with help from Corabeth, who created the dance steps, and from Jason, who wrote the musical arrangement. But Mike notices their white shoes performing fancy dance steps, realizing he will never be able to dance again. He leaves unable to watch any more. Erin follows him out and places her hand on his shoulder He is surprised she would even want to touch him. He mentions a girlfriend who does not know what has happened. With his confidence slowly growing, he considers writing to her. They return to the performers before the act is over.


Erin convinces Mike to apply for an open position of supervisor for shipping at the Pickett plant. Although J.D. tells the veterans during his hospital visits that he will do whatever he can for them, he refuses to hire Mike siting safety and insurance reasons. But J.D. says he would reconsider his application if he can drive alone to the plant and walk up the steps to the office. Back at the house, John and Mike talk about what happened today. John remembers that during the depression he did not know if he could keep the family together. The only thing he could do was to keep working at it. He suggests the same strategy for Mike.


Ben is very nervous but Ike is cool as a cucumber as they prepare for an audition in front of two USO officials. But when Corabeth announces the team, Ike suddenly freezes up. Mike comes to the rescue when he tells Ike that the two men are small towners just like them. Ike regains his composure and the duo finishes their audition much to the delight of the two USO men.


Mary Ellen suggests that Mike try using crutches so he can practice walking up the stairs to the Pickett Plant. Then, Ike buys the parts and Jim Bob modifies his car so Mike can drive using only his hands. He practices until ready to reapply with J.D. Mike pulls up to the front of the plant and walks up the office steps. However, J.D. resists making good on his promise until the family and Ike praise Mike for his determination and reliability. J.D. finally succumbs to the pressure and hires Mike.


"Mike Paxton and thousands of other handicapped Americans proved their skill and reliability in defense industries throughout the nation during those war years. For my family the reunion of Mike was an inspiration in a time of doubt and fear. For 'Godsey & Walton' it was the first of many appearances at hospitals, camp shows and war bond rallies until Ben eventually went into the service".


Erin: Since having Mike here, it's easier for him to live closer to the plant.
Mary Ellen: Did he get jobs for his friends from the ward?
Erin: Best workers we've got, and they're all living with Mike!
Elizabeth: I don't care, I still miss him and that crazy horn he had.
[Horn honks]
Jim Bob: I just happened to be polishing it.
Ben: Turn out the lights will ya?
Everyone: Goodnight, Jim Bob!
[Horn honks]



Ike’s grandfather was called Snake Oil Johnnie McMann while he toured the country with his daughter, Ike’s mother.

Mike’s mother died this year.

While in the Merchant Marines the ship Mike was stationed on was hit by German submarines while heading to Iceland.

The two USO officials are from Centerville and Big Springs. Centerville Virginia is, in reality, located in Fairfax County, Virginia. Big Springs (seems) to be only located in West Virginia.

Mike and John-Boy performed together for a talent show while in college.

Mike Paxton is introduced in The First Day (season three, episode two) and later appears in The System (season three, episode seven) and The Fledgling (season four, episode twenty-three).

The United Service Organizations (USO) is a nonprofit, charitable corporation that was chartered by the United States Congress but is not a part of the government. Its mission is to provide morale, welfare and recreation-type services to uniformed military personnel. Its home page is: http://www.uso.org/pubs/8_13_18.cfm?CFID=4271336&CFTOKEN=61736871.

The lyrics of “In the Mood” appear at: http://www.lyricsdownload.com/garland-joe-in-the-mood-lyrics.html.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Mike Paxton (Dennis Redfield); John Curtis Willard (Michael and Marshall Reed).