Writer: Juliet Packer.
Director: Nell Cox.
Music: Alexander Courage.
"There's a fine moment in our lives when we are young and innocent and our hearts first awaken to the mystery and pain of love. At such a time we can give our love freely, without fear of hurt or pain. The arrival of a new young Minister in town caused my father to witness such an awakening in the heart of my sister Elizabeth".
Andrew March, the new minister, has just moved into the parsonage when he notices a problem with the flooring. John investigates to find damaged wood and a skunk hiding underneath the house. John is able to safely run out of the house but the angry skunk sprays Andy. At the Walton’s house, Andy is bathed in tomato juice to eliminate the aroma. Elizabeth helps by soaking him with a large container of tomato juice.
While Erin buys more tomato juice from Corabeth, the Baldwin sisters ask for more mason jars for another superb run of their Recipe. When they see Erin, Miss Mamie and Miss Emily ask for help in translating their Papa’s journals and their diaries into a book they are writing. With Andy staying at the Walton’s until the skunk leaves, he eats supper with the family who tries to be overly polite with their religious guest.
Andy and John are fishing when Elizabeth tells her father to call Matt Sarver about a lumber order. He leaves Elizabeth with Andy who agrees to listen while she recites a poem for a school project. Elizabeth repeats the lines from First Love by John Clare but by the time she finishes it she has fallen in love with Andy.
Andy helps the Baldwin sisters carry their groceries inside the house after their automobile runs out of gasoline. Erin also arrives ready to write down their excerpts on her new notepad. Andy mentions to Erin that a plate of cookies was mysteriously left in his room. He believes Erin likes him. After Andy leaves, Miss Mamie and Miss Emily decide on ‘The Ballad of the Baldwins’ as the title for their book. At the parsonage, Andy and Elizabeth still smell the skunk. They talk about ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends, why Andy decided to become a minister, and why Elizabeth earlier wanted to be a writer, but now is thinking of becoming a missionary. When Elizabeth returns home, Ben and Jim Bob kid their sister about her crush on Andy. Olivia warns the boys not to tease their sister and mentions to John what their daughter is feeling.
Erin again helps the sisters as they discuss the possibility of turning the book into a movie. Miss Mamie wants Bette Davie to play her, while Miss Emily feels Kathryn Hepburn is suitable for her. Miss Emily decides that Leslie Howard will play her suitor Ashley Longworth, but Miss Mamie is undecided as to whom will play her suitor Octaveous Fairweather. Miss Mamie begins to read from one of her Papa’s journals. For the first time Miss Emily learns that before her father sent Ashley away, he wrote her a letter that was hidden where her father believed she would never find it. Miss Emily faints on the spot.
When Andy walks through the front door and finds Elizabeth ironing, he comments that she will make someone a great wife because she is so industrious. Later she writes him a poem and signs it simply “E”. After he reads the poem Andy believes it came from Erin. However, Erin tells Andy that she did not send him anything and her name is not the only Walton girl with the initial “E”. Andy realizes Elizabeth has been the one sending him presents. He asks John for advice on how to deal with his problem. John advises him to level with his daughter but to do it gently. Andy informs Elizabeth that he will be returning to the parsonage. He says they have shared wonderful times together, with him feeling like a little elf has visited him with presents. Elizabeth runs off ashamed that Andy does not feel like she feels of him.
Miss Emily is mad at her Papa for hiding the letter. Tired of looking up at his picture, she takes down his portrait from above the fireplace mantel. However, behind the frame they find the lost letter. Erin reads the letter from Ashley stating that due to her father’s demand he will not return to see her. But as a remembrance he will leave a gift in the tree where they first kissed. In the morning the two sisters and Erin walk to the tree where Ashley carved their initials into the tree. Erin notices that the arrow through the heart points to a hollow in the tree. She finds a cache that Miss Emily says is the ring Ashley wore on his little finger. Even though her romance occurred over forty years ago Miss Emily is overwhelmed by emotion.
Andy tells Elizabeth that too many people are afraid to love or to be loved. He admits enjoying her company and hopes they can remain friends. Elizabeth says that with John-Boy away she could use an older brother. Elizabeth is still upset, though, when she returns home. John tells his daughter that love does not always happen like you want it to happen. He remembers when he fell in love at the age of fourteen to Julie Roper. She had black hair and eyes the color of violets. But she was his history teacher who ran off with someone else at the end of the school year. John says he has seen her turn from a little girl into a young woman. He invites her to dinner and dancing in Charlottesville. With Jason playing the piano John and Elizabeth, in her new dress, dance while Olivia watches her little girl grow into a young woman.
"The passage of time and the support of her family helped Elizabeth overcome the pain of her first bitter-sweet love, and eventually she and the young Minister were to become good friends. Some years later Elizabeth was to find that one love which would grow and endure with the steady brilliance that lasts a lifetime".
Elizabeth: Erin did Miss Emily ever put her father's portrait back over the fireplace?
Elizabeth: I think we ought to put a portrait of Daddy over ourfireplace.
Erin: Good idea, and then if Mama ever got mad at him, she could just throw him in the broom closet!
Olivia: Goodnight Erin....
John: Goodnight Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: Goodnight Daddy
Rev. Andrew March replaces Rev. Hank Buchanan as the minister of the First Baptist Church of Walton’s Mountain. Rev. March is the third minister that has appeared on the show, following Rev. Buchanan and Rev. Matthew Fordwick.
The Walton’s Mountain congregation is Rev. March’s first assignment since graduation from the seminary.
Andy March grew up as an only child.
The poem First Love by John Clare appears at: http://www.firstscience.com/SITE/poems/clare1.asp
Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Miss Mamie Baldwin (Helen Kleeb); Miss Emily Baldwin (Mary Jaskson); Rev. Andrew March (Sean Thomas Roche).