Episode 5: The Roots


(11 October 1973) 29/2/5

Writer: Sheldon Stark.

Director: Philip Leacock.

Music: Arthur Morton


The Roots


"When I was growing up on Walton’s Mountain the great Depression cast its shadow over us as it did everyone, but we were more fortunate than most. We were a close-knit family and the house that we lived in was as solid and secure as the mountain itself. Because I had always lived in it, I took our house for granted, then, one hot summer afternoon I met others less fortunate. Through them I learned the real meaning of—home".


The children finish picking peaches in Mr. Denton’s orchard and now wait in line for their pay. Verdie Grant is paid her dollar per hour, as are Ben and Erin who both say they are twelve years old in order to be paid the full rate. Verdie talks with Jody, a young boy traveling with his father Harley Foster looking for jobs. Harley asks Mr. Denton if there is more work, but there isn’t so Harley says they will be moving on. Jim Bob finds a small peach tree that has been thrown away. John-Boy tells him to ask Mr. Denton if he can take it home. As Jim Bob, Elizabeth, and Jody wait, Jody says he doesn’t have a grandfather or mother, and indicates they are lucky to have so many relatives. Denton tells them they can take the tree.


Harley tells Verdie that he is showing his son the world, a first-hand education. He indicates that he is an automobile mechanic by trade. John-Boy agrees to drop Harley and Jody off at the main road. But as they stop at Verdie’s house the truck’s radiator overheats. Verdie tells John-Boy that she will help the Waltons with the peach canning, owing for a delivery of wood. She asks them inside for lemonade. Elizabeth discovers a seashell that amazes Jody who hears the ocean waves inside. Jody also sees a ball with snow swirling inside. As they prepare to leave, Verdie takes John-Boy aside to ask if he would do some matchmaking for her. He agrees, hearing her say that she has much love still to give.


On the way home the truck’s engine catches fire. Harley and John-Boy put out the flames. John welcomes the group home as John-Boy introduces the adults to Harley and Jody. The children plant the tree and Olivia invites them to supper. Afterwards Harley compliments the meal and John invites them to stay the night. Soon Verdie arrives, saying she has found that Ike wants to talk with Harley in the morning about fixing the Baldwin sister’s car. Harley agrees to “sleep on it”. As John-Boy says goodnight to Harley and Jody he tells them that Verdie is one of the “finest ladies he’s ever known”. During the night Harley wakes to find Jody staring out the barn door, looking at the tiny peach tree.


In the morning John-Boy takes Harley into the store, as Ike waits on two customers. Ike welcomes Harley, hoping he will stay and fix automobiles, with the nearest mechanic in Charlottesville. Later, as Harley works on the Baldwin car, Verdie stops on her way to can peaches with the Waltons. Verdie tells Harley that she has a pair of pants that her son used to wear, that might fit Jody. Harley comments that she would make someone a fine wife. At the house Verdie inspects Jody wearing his new pants. Grandma thinks Harley is a wanderer, but Verdie thinks he just hasn’t found the right woman – until now. Olivia agrees.


Harley walks to the house to eat lunch with Jody. But, Jody says that Mrs. Grant already feed him. Verdie exits the house with lunch for her and Harley. They eat under the cool of a shade tree as John-Boy reads from the book The Count of Monte Cristo. Verdie thinks Jody needs some female affection. Harley says he could use some, too. After the reading is finished Verdie tells Jody that Alexandre Dumas’ grandmother was colored. She says that reading will be one of his greatest experiences in his life. Jody exclaims that the Chateau D’lf was a jail. Soon Harley drives up in the repaired Baldwin car, inviting Jody to take a ride with him. But Jody runs off, saying he doesn’t want to leave.


John asks Jody to mail a letter for him. He walks to Ike’s store, and then walks down the road. Ike asks Harley if he would like an advance to his pay, after getting money from the Jordan car. Harley doesn’t need the advance, still with the peach-picking money. At the house Harley thinks that Jody has gone to Verdie’s house. At her house Verdie shows Jody her “Souvenir of Sea Island”, and then learns he can’t read. Harley barges in, angry with her for her “female foolishness”. Verdie harshly tells Harley that Jody needs a sense of responsibility and an education. Harley stomps out of the house. Back at the store Harley reconsiders and asks Ike for his pay, saying he is leaving. As John-Boy fills a gas container Jody tells him that his father and Mrs. Grant had words, and they are leaving. Later, Jody sneaks into the store and takes money from the cash register while outside Ike tries to convince Harley to change his mind.


Back home, Elizabeth asks her mother why the two are leaving. Grandma thinks it has to do with Mrs. Grant. Verdie shows up to give Jody the ball with the snow inside. He hugs her. Verdie admits that she hurt Harley’s pride, the worst thing she could have done. As she walks off Harley and Jody say goodbye. Just then Ike rides up on his motorcycle. He confronts Harley, saying that twenty-three dollars is missing from the store. Harley insists he only has ten dollars, for his five days of work. But when he searches his bags, the money appears. Harley looks very surprised. Later, as the children play on the porch, John-Boy talks about the incident. He asks Jody if he saw anybody inside the store. Jody wonders whether they will stay, if his father goes to jail, like the Count of Monte Cristo. Jody then admits he took the money.


Jody then tells his father what he did, and why he took the money. Harley tells his son that everything will be all right. Later, Harley knocks on Verdie’s front door. John-Boy and Jody are waiting outside in the truck. Harley announces, “We’re staying.” and getting room and board at Rev. Dooley’s, only a half mile away. Harley admits that she was right; and that his son needs to settle down in one place. They look at each other affectionately.


"Harley and Jody did put down roots in Waltons Mountain, and the romance that blossomed in a peach orchard was to flower and bear fruit of its own*. Almost four decades have passed but my own roots are still there, in that house where I was born and grew up with my brothers and sisters".


Elizabeth: Mama?

Olivia: Yes, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth: Can I sleep tonight without breathing?

Olivia: Why, some special reason?

Elizabeth: Uh huh, Jim Bob and I are going to have a breath-holding contest, and I thought I'd practice.

Olivia: Well, you can try, dear. Goodnight.

Elizabeth: Goodnight, Mama.



The setting is summer 1934.

It is mentioned that Verdie has a son Albert.

Information about the book The Count of Monte Cristo is found online at http://www.bookvalley.com/collections/cristo/index.html.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley), Verdie Grant (Lynn Hamilton), Harley Foster (Hal Williams), Jody Foster (Erin Blunt), Mr. Denton (Noble Willingham).


(synopsis written by William Atkins and edited by Arthur Dungate)