Episode 24 - The Venture

(6 March 1975)
Writer: Joseph Bonaduce.
Director: Ralph Waite
Music: Alexander Courage.


"Late in 1935 there came a time of excitement and anticipation on Waltons Mountain. Big things we felt were about to happen. Like the rest of the country, we were inching out of the worst of the depression, and on a single day three of us attempted to take giant steps. I was applying for my first job on a newspaper, my father was attempting to expand his milling operation, and Jason was only a hair's breadth away from winning a scholarship at the Klineberg Conservatory of Music. We were all convinced that in the months ahead we would see the return of prosperity, and happier days".


John-Boy is applying for his first job with a newspaper, John is expanding his milling operations, and Jason is auditioning for a scholarship at the Kleinberg Conservatory of Music. Elizabeth is drawing a circle around today’s date, the seventh day of the month hoping that all three will succeed today. Grandma tells Elizabeth not to waste the crayon because a box costs a nickel. The children come in from school looking for something to eat. Olivia says that there is warm (vegetable) soup on the back of the stove. Olivia is worried about John-Boy’s, John’s, and Jason’s ventures, but Elizabeth says all will get what they want because “7” is their lucky number. Jim Bob and Elizabeth tell them the time that Grandpa took them to Faber to see a fortuneteller, and the gypsy told them that “7” was the family’s lucky number. Grandma can’t believe that Zeb actually look them.


John-Boy is taking a test at the newspaper but is having a problem with the typewriter. The interviewer edits his work for speed and accuracy. He comments that John-Boy’s sentence “The patrolman erupted in a volcanic fury.” could be more tersely written as “The patrolman got mad.” Grandpa walks into the house looking for the boys as the women talk about gypsies. He isn’t feeling well, and Grandma says that “he’s burning up” They force him to go to bed, and Grandma goes off and makes a mustard plaster.


At Kleinberg, Jason has auditioned, and waits for applicant, Barbara Marshall. She returns much relieved to be finished. She wants to play with ‘Phil Spatalmie and His All Girl Orchestra’; while Jason says he wants to compose like Gershwin. The music judge comes to the door to say that only one scholarship is available.


The family waits for the threesome to return home with (hopefully) good news. When they drive up they announce: “[John-Boy] I got the job, [Jason] I got the scholarship, [John] I got the contract from Walt Catlett.” The family jumps up and down about the good news. John comments that the order is for all the lumber for five new bungalows, finished in ten days. John hopes to have the roof on the new mill building in two days. Soon, John and the boys are working on the framing.


Grandma and Grandpa lie in bed when John awakens them as he works before daybreak. Zeb admits the mustard plaster isn’t working, and Esther decides to make a stronger one. John-Boy tells John that Olivia has eggs, hot biscuits, and coffee ready for him, but John only wants coffee. John-Boy admits he has to work at the newspaper after school but will help out afterwards. He goes for coffee. As John works a storm approaches. At noon, John stops briefly for some hot soup. Olivia says she sees sickness in his eyes, but John says he can’t stop because he owes five hundred dollars and needs to get the rafters up. As the rain falls, John works and Olivia and Grandma worry at the kitchen window as they wash dishes. Olivia declares that she “is sick of this damn depression”. Grandma goes out to tell her son to come inside, but John doesn’t listen. He says that “I’m headin’ for the home stretch” but Grandma says, “You’re headin’ for the sick bed”.


Olivia wakes up but can’t see her husband working. She goes outside in the rain to find John slumped on the ground. She yells for help, “John-Boy…Jason…John-Boy”. In the hospital John-Boy arrives to find his Mother asleep at John’s beside, as he sleeps inside an oxygen tent. John-Boy tells her that Dr. McIvers says John will be okay, and she needs to go home to rest. The nurse comes in to say that visiting hours are over, but Olivia refuses to leave. She tells John-Boy to make the proper arrangements with the hospital. Dr. McIvers says that John will be fine as long as no complications set in. He makes arrangements for Olivia to stay over.


At home, John-Boy tells the family that their father still has the fever, and must stay in the hospital for ten days. Grandpa says they’ll lose the order if its not finished in time. He knows he can finish the order himself, but right at the moment doesn’t feel up to it. Elizabeth asks if Grandpa and Daddy are going to die. John-Boy says, “Of course not!” They all go to bed.


Jason and John-Boy talk, wondering how they’re going to make the first payment due at the first of the month, knowing they could use the house. At the hospital, John wakes up with Olivia gazing upon him. He sees her, smiles and winks, and goes back to sleep. At the mill John-Boy says a prayer, and behind him, Olivia says “amen” along with him. She says that “he’s awake” and John-Boy says, “Good news, Momma!” Olivia thinks that maybe “pride goes before destruction”, that we are being told we are too prideful. But, John-Boy disagrees. Olivia is going to get a job to help pay the bills. She tries to apply for a job but doesn’t have any of the qualifications such as shorthand and typing. Mary Ellen tells a story where Jim Bob was offered two cents to crow like a rooster up on the roof, and Jim Bob offered Elizabeth five cents to flap her arms up in the tree house.


Jim Bob and Elizabeth stand on the coffee table while they imitate Ike and Corabeth. They mention that Miss Essie Davis commented about going to the poor house. Grandma assures them they aren’t going to the poor house. Olivia returns and tells the family what John told her. She breaks down and cries, but John-Boy disagrees with her, saying they all can work together and finish the mill and the order. Grandpa agrees, and the all go off to work. In the morning the family continues to work hard. Grandpa tries to tell John-Boy that parts are missing from one piece of equipment. The family is disorganized, yelling at each other, and Olivia tries to calm down John-Boy. Jason has bruised his thumb, but John-Boy has little sympathy for him. Grandpa says that he is pushing them too hard.


John-Boy eats supper on his bed when Jason knocks on the door. John-Boy apologizes to him. Jason suggests that he has written a letter giving up his scholarship at Kleinberg, so he could work full-time with Bobby Bigelow. John-Boy refuses his offer, saying he has another idea that will keep the family afloat for a while. At the newspaper, John-Boy tells his editor, Mr. Fletcher, that he’ll not find a harder working stringer. He asks the editor for a full-time position, saying he is quitting the university for one year. The editor tells him to report at eight a.m. Tuesday, saying he’ll learn more in one year at the newspaper then four years at college.


John talks with his hospital roommate, Joseph, when John-Boy enters to tell his father what he just did, that’ he’ll get thirteen dollars, fifty cents each week, plus gas money. John flatly refuses to let his son leave school, but John-Boy is just as stubborn, telling his father that its already been decided. As he leaves to his father’s yells, Ike comes to visit, and hears what has just transpired.


A whole troop of workers arrive early in the morning to help build the mill building, lead by Ike and Zack Roswell. The family wonder what is going on? Grandpa and John-Boy learn that Ike coordinated everything. Ike thinks Grandpa could work a lot better if he was a bit less casual (begin still in his sleeping clothes). Olivia and Grandma begin making a whole lot of coffee. After the men finish the mill, Olivia tells John that everything is waiting for him to return, the bank gave them an extension on the loan, but they lost the Catlett order. John decides to leave the hospital a day early. Back home, family and friends gather around the mill and celebrate the opening of “Walton and Sons Lumber Yard Established 1935”.


"The Depression wasn't over by a long sight and prosperity wasn't anywhere near around the corner, but we had taken a giant step forward as a family".


Elizabeth: Daddy?
John: What is it, honey?
Elizabeth: If you had died when you were six, would you have gone to Heaven or Hell?
John: I don't know, what do you think?
Elizabeth: Well, you could have probably made it to Heaven, 'night Daddy.
John: Goodnight, Elizabeth.
Olivia: John I really do wish you'd start thinking about going to church on Sundays.
John: Goodnight, Liv.....
Olivia: 'Night.



The episode occurs late in 1935.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Dr. McIvers (Rance Howard); Zack Roswell (James Gammon); David Fletcher (M. Emmet Walsh); Walt Catlett (John Carter); Joseph (Craig Hundley); Nurse Howard (Caludia Bryan); Mr. Bennett (Herbert Anderson); Barbara Marshall (Celia Bonaduce); Music Judge (Jerry Crews).