Episode 21 - The Torch

(8 March 1979)
Writer: Rod Peterson.
Director: David Wheeler.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"The absence of a loved one can make the days seem endless and the nights all the darker, especially in spring when the weather is gentle and moonlight stirs the heartstrings. During my mother's illness our family sorely missed her presence and without her my father was a lonely vulnerable man".


Coming home after a late shift at the hospital, Mary Ellen sees her father waiting for everyone to return. Jason soon returns from the Dew Drop Inn informing them that Thelma sold the business and moved to California. He is worried how to pay expenses for the last few weeks before graduation if the new owner does not rehire him.


The next morning, Jason drives to the Dew Drop in his best suit to learn his fate. He walks in to find the new owner, Mrs. Callie Jordan. She cannot believe Thelma paid so much for his piano playing until she hears him perform. Mrs. Jordan hires Jason on the spot. She is also thinking of remodeling the place by extending the bar and enlarging the dining room. Jason suggests she use his father's lumber business to make the improvements. Callie calls John by name, even though Jason has not mentioned his name.


Outside Ike's store, Cindy and Elizabeth realize that the soldiers have no place to go during their off-hours. Elizabeth recommends using Godsey Hall as a canteen. They walk inside to persuade Ike to donate the space. Ike eagerly agrees but Corabeth must be convinced. Cindy suggests Corabeth could become the hostess. She is pleased by the role. The family plans the formation of the canteen over dessert.


John prepares to visit the Dew Drop in order to talk to Mrs. Jordan when the family kids him about the good-looking lady owner. When John enters the establishment he waves at Jason and walks up to the bar. Callie asks Jason to play Oh You Beautiful Doll, one of John's favorite songs. Callie calls out 'Johnny'. In response John yells out 'Callie May', not believing whom he is seeing. While they hug Callie says, 'Yes, Callie May is back in town!' John and Callie spend the night talking about 'the good old days'.


In the morning, Callie walks into Ike's store. Ike does not recognize her until she mentions Miss Tate, Ike's favorite high school teacher. After she leaves, Ike remembers that John dated Callie May after Olivia's parents objected to her seeing him. John makes suggestions concerning the remodeling, but Callie has other ideas. They get into a big argument, just like when they were dating in high school. On the way out Callie throws a beer mug at John, barely missing him. John declares, 'You always did have a lousy aim!'


John calls Olivia but does not mention Callie May, much to the dismay of the girls. Later they all go to Godsey Hall in order to decorate the canteen. While discussing that John is lonely and at 'that dangerous age', Cindy mentions that Callie has 'been around'. Mary Ellen and Ben start calling their father 'Grandpa' to emphasis his family responsibilities. But Mary Ellen says, 'He doesn't look like a grandfather.' Ben responds, 'He doesn't think like one either.' John deliveries lumber to the Dew Drop where upon Callie suggests they race to Ike's store. John takes a less traveled road to beat her. Corabeth observe the two racing to the store. John asks what his prize is for winning. Callie begins to show him but John says he 'better settle for a soda'. Inside the store Ike, John, and Callie reminisce about playing hooky. Callie describes in detail the time she and John privately went to the old swimming hole on a very hot day in the spring.


Opening day of the canteen brings in no soldiers. Finally, a man arrives asking for a beer. When he finds only soft drinks and sugar cookies, he leaves for the Dew Drop. While John baby-sits he receives a call from Callie asking him to look over the remodeling plans she just received. Entering the house, she admits how often she imagined what it would have been like living here. Callie realizes that 'Olivia is not gone, she's here.' John agrees. Mary Ellen arrives to find them sitting on the sofa. But Callie jumps up when Mary Ellen says all the soldiers at the canteen were going to the Dew Drop. After leaving, Mary Ellen tells John that she knows what it is to be lonely and that old memories are not always buried as deep as we think.


Jason walks into the Dew Drop to practice the piano. John walks out after agreeing to look for fixtures with Callie. Jason mentions that the canteen is closing because only a few soldiers visited. She later enters the canteen to suggest using it as a home-away-from-home. She agrees to contribute money to the new venture. They remodel with a ping-pong table, cards, checkers, and old furniture from around the community.


Outside the Dew Drop Ike confronts Callie, saying her first two marriages failed because the men did not measure up to John Walton. On Saturday morning John finds Callie not wanting to go to Richmond. She had planned on stealing him from Olivia, but after getting to know his family could not go through with it. John says, 'We could have had a good life together, but we went down different roads.' He tells Callie that Olivia means everything to him, but they can still be friends. He convinces her to go shopping in Richmond with Ben, Cindy, Mary Ellen, and John-Curtis.


"Callie May Jordan became a respected member of the community and a good friend to all our family, young and old".


Mary Ellen: You still awake, Daddy?
John: Hitting the old pillow pretty quick, Honey.
Mary Ellen: Everybody's back from the canteen and Jason got home half an hour ago.
John: I know. I've been reading Corabeth's book tonight - Faithful to the End. The other one is better.
Mary Ellen: The Constant Heart I just finished it, it's worse.....
John: Goodnight Mary Ellen.


Callie May Jordan's maiden name is Jesse.

Callie has run saloons from Florida to Virginia while 'looking for the city lights'.

Cindy's father and mother divorced when she was thirteen years old. Her mother died two years later. [According to The Outsider (season seven, episode twenty), her mother died 'a couple of years ago'. This would make her seventeen years old.]

The first name of the canteen is 'The Night Club Canteen'. Its second name is 'The Home Front Canteen'.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Cindy Brunson Walton (Leslie Winston); John-Curtis (Michael and Marshall Reed); Callie May Jesse Jordan (Dorothy Tristan); Soldier #1 (Wyatt Knight); Soldier #2 (Daniel Zippe); The Sergeant (Christopher Carroll).