Episode 17 - The Anniversary

(2 February 1978)
Writers: Rod Peterson and Claire Whitaker.
Director: Walter Alzman.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"Between two people in a good marriage there develops a kind of silent communication. Each knows what to expect of the other, when to offer strength, where to step lightly. It is this kind of predictability that makes the occasional surprise shine all the brighter in memory. As my parents' Silver Anniversary approached, my father was to reveal a side of his nature that years of hard work and sacrifice had kept secret. And in doing so, he made it an anniversary that none of us would ever forget".


John and Olivia share a private moment exchanging glances until Elizabeth runs into Grandpa. She is late for her first day of babysitting. Mary Ellen instructs her on taking care of John Curtis while John and Olivia prepare for supper at the Godsey’s. Mary Ellen is returning to nursing at the hospital and Erin is working extra time at the telephone office. Over an elegant dinner Corabeth, Ike, Olivia, and John discuss the children and the upcoming anniversary. John and Olivia admit they are not planning anything special for their twentieth–fifth anniversary. As the women prepare dessert, Ike wonders if it is wise not to give Olivia something for such an important milestone. John admits he does have a surprise planned for his wife. Walking back to the house, John and Olivia reminisce about their first twenty-five years together.


Elizabeth fixes macaroni and cheese for the family as they discuss the surprise supper planned for their parents. At the Rockfish hospital, Mary Ellen bumps into her ex-fiancée David Spencer at the cafeteria. He is in residence for radiology after joining his father’s practice. David wonders if working at the hospital with Mary Ellen will cause friction with her husband. Mary Ellen says they trust each other. At the army hospital, Curt exchange glances with a pretty nurse.


John sneaks to the attic early in the morning to bring down Grandma’s old phonograph player. Jim Bob is also in the attic locating light bulbs. They agree not to say anything to anyone about why they are there. John places the player in the back of the truck but not before Grandpa notices his son heading to the Mountain again for some mysterious purpose. John tells Grandpa that he is planting and staking some loblolly pine seedlings. Zeb doesn’t quite believe the explanation.


David and Mary Ellen meet at the hospital library where he compares Mary Ellen to Scarlet O’Hara from the book ‘Gone with the Wind’ that she is reading. He gives her a picture he took of her while they were on a picnic on Waltons Mountain. Elizabeth complains about the trouble she has had with John Curtis. As her parents sit on the porch swing she wants to hear the story again of how they first met. John reverses the roles where now he is the pillar of the Baptist church and Olivia is a ‘wicked woman’.


Ben and Grandpa observe a truck from the telephone company stop in front of the house. The family thinks the serviceman has made a mistake until Olivia explains she has ordered a telephone for the house and the mill as a present to John. That night the family gathers in the living room to surprise John. After he arrives, Jason runs to the mill and calls Erin to ring the house. John notices everyone is acting strangely when suddenly something is ringing. He locates the telephone and hears Erin shout, ‘Happy Anniversary Daddy! Happy Anniversary from Moma!’ John then makes his own announcement saying they will be getting dressed up on Saturday to have their pictures taken at the Rockfish photographic studio.


Olivia and Mary Ellen make the beds while Olivia warns her married daughter to be careful about being lonely when separated from her spouse. While eating supper the telephone rings but John vows not to have it control their lives. Olivia finally answers it to find John Boy calling from New York City. The family rush to talk with John Boy while John admits he is glad they have the telephone in the house.


On Saturday morning the girls present breakfast-in-bed for their mother while Jim Bob places tin cans on the back bumper of John’s truck. Driving home from the photo studio John stops the truck and walks Olivia blindfolded to a gazebo he built for her on the mountaintop. They dance to music from Grandma’s phonograph player and drink champagne as the countryside sits beautifully around them. While John and Olivia celebrate the family prepares for their surprise dinner. Jason brings home a store-bought cake but it turns out to state ‘Happy Birthday Wilbur’.


With the sun setting Olivia wants to stay until she can make a wish on the first star. The family continues to wait on their late parents when a car drives up. They shout ‘Surprise’ but when Curt enters they are the ones that are surprised. Curt has something important to tell Mary Ellen so leave to the privacy of the porch. He admits flirting with a nurse and Mary Ellen tells of her encounters with David Spencer. Grandpa thinks he knows what has delayed John and Olivia so tells everyone to make turkey sandwiches and bring candles as they drive to where he believes they will find them. Before leaving Jim Bob shows his surprise of a ‘25’ erected out of light bulbs on the roof. The family locates the missing couple dancing under the gazebo. With the family singing around the gazebo Grandpa brings his gift of blankets for John and Olivia so they can spend a quiet night alone under the stars.


"The pretty gazebo is gone now, burned to the ground in a forest fire that swept the mountain. But for all of us the memories remain of that night when our father and mother after twentyfive years danced and were newly-weds again".


(Olivia and John, dancing in the gazebo)
John: 'Night 'Liv.
Olivia: Goodnight nothin', I'm gonna dance 'till the sun comes up.



John and Olivia’s twentieth-fifth anniversary occurs on Saturday.

John takes Grandma’s phonograph player to Buck Vernon for repairs.

The sign outside of the mill states ‘Waltons & Sons Lumberyard – Established 1935’.

John’s truck license plates are 86-297 Virginia.


Also appearing:

Joe Conley (Ike Godsey); Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Curt Willard (Tom Bower); David Spencer (Christopher Woods); Phone Serviceman (John Perryman).