Episode 19 - The Ordeal

(two hour episode) (16 February 1978)
Writer: Paul West.
Director: Lawrence Dobkin.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"Scarcely a year or a season passed on Waltons Mountain that did not bring a test of my parents' courage and the strength of our family ties. In the spring of 1940 the test came as always without warning, and from a direction none of us expected".


Part 1


John and Grandpa secure a log pile while Jim Bob and Ben horse around near the mill. Sheriff Bridges then drives up with an old sewing box from his wife’s great-grandmother that needs repair. As John and Grandpa take the machine to the mill, John tells the boys to finish fastening down the log pile. Instead, Jim Bob and Ben run to the pond for a swim. They scare off Elizabeth and Aimee, who are sitting along the shore, when they begin to discard their clothes. As the two girls reach the log pile they observe a baby bird has fallen from its nest. Elizabeth returns the bird to its nest by climbing onto the log pile. But as she begins to climb down it gives way and she falls to the ground. The logs fall on top of her while Aimee screams for help. The family and Ep run to her aid. They carefully move her to a board in order to lift her to the back of the Sheriff’s car for the trip to the Scottsville Memorial Hospital. Grandpa comforts Aimee while Ep drives the car with John, Olivia, and Elizabeth in the backseat.


Jim Bob and Ben return to find the log pile in a mess. They learn what has happened and jump in Jason’s car to follow Ep to the hospital. At Ike’s store Corabeth looks over herbs such as goldenseal, sassafras root, and ginseng that is being sold by Ada Corley, a local woman who claims to cure people’s ills with herbs. Aimee runs inside to tell them that Elizabeth had a terrible accident where her legs were most likely broken. Soon afterwards, the Baldwin sisters enter the store and are told the story. They immediately drive off to help Erin who is taking care of the house while the rest of the family care for Elizabeth.


Mary Ellen announces to the family that Elizabeth has multiple fractures of both legs. Dr. Jamison, acknowledged to be the best orthopedic surgeon in the county, performed her surgery. Mary Ellen confronts Jim Bob and Ben, telling her brothers that they are totally to blame for the accident. In response Jim Bob runs out of the hospital unable to face the family. Dr. Jamison returns from surgery to tell John and Olivia that the operation was successful but Elizabeth incurred damage to her nerves. Grandpa leaves with Ben and comforts Jim Bob by telling him that what happened was not done on purpose nor with any evil intent. He says that all people make mistakes from time to time.


Olivia and John return home after being told that Elizabeth may not walk again. In the middle of the night Ben and Jason awake to find Jim Bob preparing to run away from home. Jason convinces him to stay by saying their parents have enough to worry about. In the morning Olivia brings down her suitcase after deciding to stay around the clock with her youngest daughter. At the hospital, John tickles Elizabeth’s toes but she is unable to feel his touch.


At Ike’s store, Evelyn Winfield, the new schoolteacher, meets the Baldwin sisters. They ask Miss Winfield what would be a suitable present for Elizabeth. She thinks the book ‘Little Women’ is a good gift. Much to the surprise of Miss Winfield, Aimee, and Ike, the two sisters want to give Elizabeth a pony. With her eyes wide open, Aimee shouts that a pony would be a great gift. With that positive response, the ladies decide to go ahead with the pony as her gift. Ben asks Erin what she thought Elizabeth would like for a present. She tells Ben that Elizabeth only wants him to visit her. Ben shrugs his shoulder feeling she just does not understand the situation.


Aimee runs into Ada Corley who thinks the girl is spying on her. Aimee is scared upon seeing the woman but does ask her if she can help her friend. She replies that she cannot help while Elizabeth is in the hospital. She does not believe Elizabeth needs chemicals but, instead, needs ‘nature’s way’.


Elizabeth does not understand why Jim Bob has not visited her. Olivia remarks that he feels ashamed about what happened. Elizabeth thinks that attitude is silly. Ben has been bringing Elizabeth gifts and needs more money for gifts. He asks Jason to help him find a job at the Dew Drop Inn. Ben then asks Thelma for a job as a night manager. She does not need a manager but does want to hire a clean-up man for fifty cents an hour. He accepts the job.


After Elizabeth is removed from traction, Mary Ellen confides in her mother that the doctors are unsure whether Elizabeth will ever walk again. Olivia says that the family must continue the belief that she will walk because there is a ‘far greater force’ than the doctors’ expertise. At supper Jim Bob confesses that he feels the rest of the family think he is a criminal for what he did to Elizabeth. John wants him to change his ways because he is wrong in what he thinks. Erin adds that Ben’s actions are worse, trying to buy her forgiveness. Ben disagrees with his sister, saying he just wants to make her happy. During the conversation Miss Winfield knocks on the front door asking someone from the family to drop off materials from a school project to Elizabeth. Jim Bob tells the family he will take the schoolwork to Elizabeth.


Part 2


Jim Bob buys chocolate-covered cherries from Corabeth on this way with Grandpa to see Elizabeth at the hospital. When they arrive Olivia and Elizabeth are playing Chinese Checkers. Elizabeth tells Jim Bob that she was getting mad at him for not visiting. Jim Bob confesses he is sorry but then runs out of the room unable to face her.


In the morning, John arrives at the hospital room to find his wife pacing nervously as Elizabeth’s casts are removed and her legs x-rayed. Mary Ellen abruptly arrives to say that Elizabeth is going home. Then Dr. Jamison announces that Elizabeth’s fractures are healing better than expected but the nerves have not yet joined. The doctor admits they can do nothing more and leave it up to the family to help the patient maintain her determination to walk again. With braces on both legs Elizabeth is welcomed home. She will sleep in Grandpa’s bedroom while Zeb moves in with the boys. However, Jim Bob says he will sleep in the shed because he feels no longer a part of the family. John forces Jim Bob to say goodnight to Elizabeth but, afterwards, Grandpa tells his young grandson that it was the worst goodnight he has ever heard. Ben says goodnight to Elizabeth with yet another gift, a large bottle of cologne from the Fashion Center in Charlottesville. Olivia confronts Ben telling him these gifts only ease his guilt. To comfort Elizabeth she tells her son to show Elizabeth that you love her by spending time with her. Ben confesses that he can’t do that. When Ben tells his mother that he is working at the Dew Drop Inn in order to buy her gifts Olivia, in frustration, says, ‘Now I’ve got two sons working in a saloon!’ 


Jason and Erin dance to swing music from the radio while the family and Aimee look on. Soon they see the Baldwin sisters drive up with a surprise. Elizabeth watches a pony unloaded. Miss Mamie and Miss Emily feel Judy the pony will be an incentive for her to walk and ride again. While Aimee rides the pony Grandpa senses Elizabeth is sad that she can not ride and watches her unsuccessfully try to stand up without her crutches. While looking at the pony Ben thinks of an idea that will make her sister happy. He brings out the pony cart so Judy can pull it with Elizabeth riding inside. Erin tells Ben that driving Elizabeth around in the pony cart means more to her than all the presents he can give her.


Aimee stays the night with Elizabeth and convinces her to visit Ada Corley. They sneak off in the pony cart hoping the herbalist can fix her legs. When the girls arrive at the woman’s house, they are frightened by her weird ways. In the meantime, John finds the girls missing and with Ike and Grandpa’s help, they travel to where Corabeth thinks the girls have gone, to Ada Corley’s house. In the meantime, Ada Corley tears off the metal contraption around Elizabeth’s legs believing they are cutting off the blood supply. Feeling that the bones are strong, she applies a green salve made from roots, herbs, and juices to her patient’s legs. Ada Corley then forces Elizabeth to walk but she only falls to the floor in tears. With the woman yelling at Elizabeth, the men rush in to rescue the girls.


John walks to the church to pray for Elizabeth. He enters the church and kneels down in prayer for her recovery. At school the next morning Miss Winfield observes Elizabeth walk a step while recovering a ball that the school children have kicked off in her direction. That night Ben leaves Elizabeth on the swing as he goes off to help Grandpa. Miss Winfield drives in to tell John and Olivia what she saw today. As Elizabeth attempts to go from the swing to a sawhorse, Jim Bob urges Elizabeth to walk toward him. With the family looking on, Elizabeth takes two independent steps into Jim Bob’s arms.


"By the Fall of that year my sister was entirely free of the braces on her legs and was able once again to take part in the active life of the mountain".


Jim Bob: Everybody asleep?
John: Not now.....
Jim Bob: I was wonderin' somethin'.
Olivia: Let's hear it Jim Bob.
Jim Bob: What is time?
Elizabeth: Well when I had my braces on that was a long time.
Erin: A jamboree party at the Godseys'. That was a high old time.
Grandpa: Full moon in June, that's a-courtin' time.
Jim Bob: What is time? It's not on the clock!
John: It's time to go to sleep son! 'Night everybody.



The name of the Baldwin sisters’ father is Judge Randolph Baldwin.

While talking to her mother in the hospital, Elizabeth refers to the time the pilot took Olivia up in his airplane. (The reference was taken from The Air Mail Man; season two, episode thirteen.)

The Scottsville Memorial Hospital was established in the year 1887.

George Lister, who took care of Judge Baldwin’s horses, brought Judy the pony over from an island off the Virginia coast.

The pony cart, that Ben attaches to Judy the pony so Elizabeth can take rides, first appears in The Pony Cart; season five, episode ten.

The license plates on Jim Bob’s car are 59-6082 Virginia.


Also appearing:

Joe Conley (Ike Godsey); Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth Godsey); Rachel Longaker (Aimee Godsey); Mary Jackson (Miss Emily Baldwin); Helen Kleeb (Miss Mamie Baldwin); Virginia Gregg (Ada Corley); Richard Sarradet (Dr. Jamison); Julie Gibson (Evelyn Winfield); Dorothy Shay (Thelma); John Crawford (Ep Bridges).