Episode 3 - The Runaway


(3 Oct 1974) 52-3-4

Teleplay: Larry Bischof & Carol Evan McKeand.

Story by: Larry Bischof.

Director: Harry Harris.

Music: Alexander Courage


“In today's troubled world, it isn't unusual to hear that a member of a family has packed up and left, gone off on his own, feeling rejected and misunderstood. When I was growing up on Walton’s Mountain it never occurred to us that such a thing could happen in our family, and yet, it did.”


School lets out and all the children pile out of school. Jim Bob has been placed in charge of the “little kids” mascot, the guinea pig named “Porthos”, while Miss Hunter is away. Jason speaks of Grandpa’s yarn about the white deer. Elizabeth is coughing, so as the new “mother-hen” Jason is given the duty of carrying Elizabeth home. At Boatwright, John-Boy waits while a girl is denied a ticket to the Bennett Holmby lecture because she is not a student. She asks John-Boy to get her a ticket (each student can acquire two free tickets). John-Boy tells her that she doesn’t have to sit next to him, but she wants to and they have a date. John-Boy offers to drive her home, to Mrs. Ford’s Boarding House. After John-Boy opens the stuck passenger-side door so the girl can exit the car, they exchange introductions: she is Amy Partridge.


John-Boy tries to read in bed, but is disturbed by the boys in the next room arguing about the guinea pig. Olivia tells Jim Bob to put the animal somewhere so it doesn’t get out. Jim Bob places his pet inside his aviator’s cap on top of the dresser. But, during the night the animal gets out and wanders around. In the morning, the rooster crows as John-Boy reads and Grandma awaken the other children. Jim Bob says “good-morning” to Porthos, but Ben thinks that “good-bye” is more appropriate. The animal is gone. Jim Bob finds the pet on the floor: it’s dead. Feeling very sad, Jim Bob tries to tell his brothers, but they don’t listen to him. John-Boy wants to talk with him but is late for school. Jim Bob tries to tell his mother what happened, but she is busy with Elizabeth who is still not feeling well. When Jim Bob tugs on his father’s jacket he tells him not to do that while he’s working at the mill. With the saw doing full-speed, Grandpa tells Jim Bob that he can’t go fishing with him. As the kids leave for school they criticize him and his guinea pig. Jim Bob looks at everybody too busy to listen to his problem. He buries his pet, then says “Sorry, Porthos” over the animal’s grave.


John and Grandpa load up Dobbs’ truck with the first half of the order. Dobbs promises to return at four o’clock for the rest of the lumber. Father and son go inside for a second breakfast of flapjacks and coffee. Dobbs stops for gas at Ike’s store and exclaims “Highway robbery!” when he learns that gas is eighteen cents a gallon. Ike sees Jim Bob walking down the road, but the little boy is deep in thought. Down the road, Dobbs picks up Jim Bob. Erin runs downstairs to tell John that Jim Bob left a note saying he has run away because Porthos died and nobody cared. The adults remember how they ignored Jim Bob that morning. The family goes searching for him. Dobbs learns that his passenger is (supposedly) on his way to see his uncle who is sick. Unable to find Jim Bob Olivia and John talk about their “little man”, Olivia wishing she could relive the moment when she ignored her son. Outside, Jason and Ben say that Jim Bob is not with Chester Pruitt or Charlie Prescott. Elizabeth walks barefooted on the porch, saying she can find her brother. Olivia takes her back to her room, so she’ll be healthy when Jim Bob returns.


John goes to Ike’s store, asking Ike if he’s seen Jim Bob. Seeing him walk past the store earlier Ike thinks that Dobbs may have picked him up on his way to Westham. John calls John-Boy for him to look up Dobbs to see if he’s seen Jim Bob. John-Boy leaves a message with the ticket-taker, saying to give two tickets to Amy if he doesn’t get back in time. Dobbs arrives into town, but Jim Bob thinks the man was going to Charlottesville. John-Boy drives up, to find that Jim Bob just left. John tells Olivia, Grandma, and Elizabeth that they think the runaway is in Westham, and John-Boy is looking for him. Jim Bob walks up to the clerk at the train depot. He asks for a ticket to Japan, but the man says, “You can’t get there from here.” Five minutes after noon John-Boy knows he’ll miss the lecture and date, still unable to find his brother. Amy finds that John-Boy left the tickets, unable to make the lecture. She is disappointed.


While Jim Bob gazes at the pastries in the front window of Connie’s Bakery, the family sits around the dinner table as they worry about their lost Jim Bob. Olivia and John rush in to say that John-Boy verified with Dobbs that Jim Bob is indeed in Westham. In front of the U.S. Army Recruiting Office, Jim Bob looks at the recruitment posters. Just then John-Boy sees his lost brother and sneaks up to him. But Jim Bob runs away with John-Boy in hot pursuit. Down an alley John-Boy finds Jim Bob hiding in a trashcan. Jim Bob wants to be left alone, that he is going to join the Army Air Corp and learn to drive airplanes. John-Boy decides to take him to the recruiting office. Sgt. Strong takes Jim Bob through the enlistment questions, but being only in the fifth grade, the officer says that he must complete high school before being qualified.


John-Boy phones Ike where he learns that John is already on his way to Westham. He takes Jim Bob to a hotel so they can talk. With only a quarter in John-Boy’s pocket, Jim Bob orders a scoop of strawberry ice cream, while John-Boy orders a cup of hot tea. Jim Bob tells his older brother that he ran away because no one cared when he needed someone to listen. John-Boy agrees with him, that they should have listened. But, also says that the family can’t read his mind. John-Boy suggests that if he does run away he will have to learn to sew, get a job, and it will not be easy for the family (especially for his Mamma).


A gentleman who has been secretly listening to their conversation speaks up. John-Boy realizes it is Bennett Holmby, the author giving the lecture. The man gives the pair his philosophy on human interactions, saying that the one disappointment with traveling is a new place never has anyone that knows him, like a family. Holmby realizes John-Boy’s way with words, and suggests a writing career. Introductions are made and the man leaves. John-Boy says to Jim Bob that his running away ended up making it one of his best days because of what Bennett Holmby said to them was better than any lecture. The waitress informs them that the gentleman paid for their bill. John-Boy says, “Bennett Holmby bought me tea” but Jim Bob says, “Mine cost more”. The pair leaves the hotel and race toward where the family is waiting for them. Olivia hugs Jim Bob, and John tells Jim Bob that he will not give him a spanking (because he didn’t listen to him). As the family drives off, John-Boy sees Amy and runs over to her in order to explain why he missed their date.


"I often remember Jim Bob saying to my father: "It's OK, next time I'll make you listen". I wish that it were in the power of all children to say that to their parents, and to know that indeed they would be heard, as we were in those wonderful days on Walton’s Mountain."


Elizabeth: Goodnight, Jim Bob!

Jim Bob: Goodnight, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: Goodnight, Jim Bob.

Jim Bob: You already said that once.

Elizabeth: I know but I wanted to say it again.

Jim Bob: Elizabeth, you're crazy!

Elizabeth: Mama, Jim Bob called me a name.

Olivia: Well you call him a name.

Elizabeth: Jim Bob, you're a name.....

Jim Bob: Huh-huh-huh-huh-huh.

Elizabeth: What's so funny?



Mrs. Ford’s Boarding House is located at the end of Beaumont Street in Westham.

Jim Bob was born on June 13, 1924.

The railroad clerk tells Jim Bob (when he asks for a ticket to Japan) that, “You can’t get there from here.” This is mostly likely in reference to Earl Hamner’s book “You Can’t Get There From Here”.

The “little kids” pet guinea pig named “Porthos” is most likely named after one of the Three Muskateers (Athos, Porthos, and Aramis).


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Elwood Dobbs (Geoffrey Lewis); Amy Partridge (Ann Noland); Bennett Lawrence Holmby (Herb Nelson); Sgt. Strong (Gary Vinson); Railroad Clerk (Jimmy Weldon); Miss Tibbs (Elizabeth Kerr); Greg Walker (Chris Beaumont); Boy #1 (Brad Wilkin); Boy #2 (Michael Le Clair); College Student (BenWilson); Waitress (Kathi Sawyer).