Episode 17 - The Pin-Up

(8 February 1979)
Writer: Juliet Packer.
Director: Larry Stewart.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"In 1942 the coming of spring to Waltons Mountain brought a keener appreciation for all living things than ever before. With the rest of the world in chaos, here we felt a sense of life renewing itself. For my sister Mary Ellen it was a time when she was emerging from a painful winter and struggling to achieve a renewal of her own".


Mary Ellen returns to nursing but is anxious about leaving the family to fend for itself. When Corabeth unexpectedly arrives with a bouquet of flowers she is concerned about who will take care of John Curtis. John reassures her the family will take turns caring for the baby. That night while Elizabeth and Jason give John Curtis his first piano lesson, Ben walks in after shooting photographs. When Erin walks downstairs in her short shorts, she poses for Ben sitting on the piano stand. Mary Ellen returns from her first workday, just in time to help Elizabeth put John Curtis to bed.


In the morning, John Curtis will not eat his breakfast. John samples the apricots and understands why he is so fussy. Later, John Curtis is handed over from Elizabeth to Jim Bob to Ben who takes him along to pick up his pictures. Ike has already viewed the pictures and suggests Ben submit them to the Charlottesville Register. Ben leaves John Curtis with Corabeth while he drives to the newspaper.


At the hospital, Mary Ellen sees Joanne nervously waiting outside the emergency room. Her son Kimmi accidentally drank poison while she left the kitchen to answer the telephone. When Dr. David Spencer enters the hallway Joanne becomes hysterical upon seeing his facial expression. Mary Ellen rushes home but no one knows who is babysitting her son. Corabeth finally walks up with John Curtis. Mary Ellen vows never again to leave him out of her sight. After church services, the Godsey’s are told that Mary Ellen will not return to work. Ike then informs Ben that one of his pictures is featured on the front page of the paper. Ben rushes home to see it. John has just spoken over the phone with an upset Olivia who has also seen the picture. With Erin looking over his shoulder Ben finds that the picture is of Erin posing in the skimpy outfit with the heading ‘Jefferson County Cutie’. John is very angry with Erin and Ben for letting this happen.


Mary Ellen explains to John that medicine was a bond she and Curt shared. She realizes now that John Curtis is her only connection with her husband. John warns Mary Ellen not to make John Curtis her whole life. Erin is excited about receiving letters mostly from lonely soldiers at Camp Lee. When John and Elizabeth drive to the army base in order to finalize a barracks contract John becomes angry when observing Erin’s picture tacked to Lieutenant Clarke Oler’s cabinet. He admits that the soldiers have adopted her as the ‘Sweetheart of Camp Lee’.


Mary Ellen becomes angry when she sees her siblings playing football with John Curtis as the football. Jason yells that they used to do the same thing with Elizabeth ‘and you carried her’. Elizabeth adds, ‘and it didn’t hurt me!’ Ben does not think John Curtis will ever be rid of his Mom’s apron strings.


Ike announces that Erin has received a new record of forty-two fan letters. However, Corabeth is writing a letter to the newspaper protesting the ‘demoralizing influence of pin-up photography’. Ben apologizes to Erin for getting her into trouble with their father. But Erin likes the attention she is receiving and is responding to every letter. David Spencer visits Mary Ellen, attempting to convince her to return to the hospital. David states that John Curtis cannot fill the void of his father.


While visiting Rockfish with her father Erin is recognized by two soldiers. Private Wallace approaches her and envelops her in a kiss. John catches the perpetrator stating that even though he is wearing a man’s uniform he is tempted to spank him. Later, John reinforces his belief that Mary Ellen should not make fear a foundation for being a mother. He says that John Curtis has ‘to fall down to learn to walk’.


Erin buys fifty stamps while Ike tells her that another two hundred seventy six letters have arrived. Erin has received letters requesting her appearance at Camp Lee but John refuses to allow her to go. Lieutenant Oler arrives in order to convince John to allow Erin to visit the camp. He assures John that Erin is thought of as the ‘beautiful girl next door’ and if a soldier tries anything three hundred well trained infantrymen will come to her rescue. John maintains his stand until Mary Ellen says, ‘who is being overprotective now?’ John finally relents but holds the Lieutenant personally responsible for his daughter’s safety. As Erin is driven away Mary Ellen and John realize John Curtis is missing. Mary Ellen frantically searches the house and the outside. John tells Mary Ellen that ‘you can’t keep life from happening to John Curtis’. They finally find the youngster on the bridge above Drucilla’s Pond. John rescues his grandson.


"Mary Ellen and John Curtis survived their morning in the woods and during this crisis Mary Ellen found the strength to start letting go of her son. Once again she was sharing John Curtis with us. As the years went by, the bond between mother and son continually deepened, nurtured not by fear but by trust and love".


Jason: Hey Erin, how did you entertain the troops?
Erin: I smiled a lot.
Ben: Did you kiss any of them?
Erin: Goodnight Ben....
Jim Bob: Goodnight Mary Ellen, goodnight John Curtis.
Mary Ellen: Shhh! He's asleep!
[baby cries]
Jim Bob: Not any more!
Mary Ellen: Goodnight everyone.
[baby cries]



The Charlottesville Register provides a ten-dollar prize for its amateur photography contest that runs in the Sunday edition.

Carol Jones, who appears as Joanne, later appears as Laurie Ellis in The Victims (season nine, episode fifteen).

Joanne’s son would have been two-years of age on Sunday.

Kip Niven, who appears as Lieutenant Clarke Oler, later regularly appears as Reverend Tom Marshall starting with The Beginning (season nine, episode thirteen).

David Spencer mentions to Mary Ellen that patient Lewis Bliss Whitmore III lost his spark when she left the hospital.

Private Charles Wallace is in the U.S. Army with serial number 27271014.

Behind the counter at Ike’s store is a sign stating, ‘Pink salmon – sixteen ounces – twenty cents’.

Erin receives am especially poignant letter from bashful Private Billy Jean Moshier.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Joann (Carol Jones); Private Charles Wallace (Kevin Lee Miller); Private (David Hinton); Lieutenant Clarke Oler (Kip Niven); David Spencer (Christopher Woods).