Episode 3: The Separation


(27 September 1973) 27/2/3

Teleplay: Richard Carr.

Story by: Ellen Corby.

Director: Philip Leacock.

Music: Arthur Morton


The Separation


"Whenever I think back on Walton’s Mountain and about my family I remember mostly the feeling of love and the happiness we all shared. But though the mountain never changed, there were times, rare times, when those we thought the closest found themselves at odds. It happens in all families I suppose, and it happened one day in ours".


During breakfast, Mary Ellen tells her father about a barn dance at the Livery Stable tomorrow night. John and Olivia tell the children that they will let them know later if they can go. Esther reminds Zeb that the caller for the dance is Oglethorpe Hansen. Zeb remembers him as Fred, one of Easter’s old dance partners. Easter says she always saved the song My Wild Irish Rose for Zeb. Grandpa sings the song, much to Grandma’s delight.


As the children leave for school, a truck from the Jefferson County Electric Company drives up. The man informs Olivia and John that he has to shut off the electricity, with their bill past due. Without money, John drives to Anker Barnes, who owes for lumber. Olivia looks inside her money jar, finding twenty-two cents. She asks Grandpa to go to Ike’s for candles. But Zeb decides to detour to the Baldwin house. Miss Mamie and Miss Emily find that he wants to fix their leaky drainpipes for two dollars, fifty cents and use their car to drive to Charlottesville. They agree as long as they can go along.


The children talk about the barn dance, and Mary Ellen wonders what she should do if she doesn’t have a dance partner. John-Boy suggests Jason learn to dance. That afternoon, as the children walk home from school Olivia and Grandma prepare milk and snacks. Grandma is worried because Zeb has not returned. Olivia tells John-Boy to ask Ike if he has seen Grandpa. Jason wants to listen to Jack Armstrong, but the radio doesn’t work. Zeb drives the ladies to Charlottesville, even though he doesn’t have a license. They sing the song On Top of Old Smokey. John-Boy waits while Ike talks with a couple.


Later, Ike tells him that he hasn’t seen Zeb. Ike agrees to give John-Boy seven or eight candles, knowing that Grandpa has the money. In Charlottesville, the three visit Ollie Harper, who supplied all the medicines to Judge Baldwin. He always delivered them himself, sipping the Recipe on each trip. The Baldwin sisters bring him some of the Recipe, and as his gift makes them chocolate sodas. Grandpa decides to buy Evening Mist perfume for Esther for thirty-nine cents. They enjoy their treats, while Grandma continues to wait and worry.


The children put finger shadows on the wall, entertaining themselves without electricity. When John returns Grandma asks if Zeb is with him. But John hasn’t seen Grandpa; spending all day selling the hog that Anker Barnes paid him. John takes Grandma to look for Zeb. At the Baldwin house John finds no one home, but soon sees the Baldwin car drive up with Zeb at the wheel. John tells his father that he shouldn’t be smiling. Miss Mamie and Miss Emily greet Esther hoping she will visit. But Grandma is eager to return home. Zeb tries to explain why he was gone all day, but Grandma won’t listen, telling him that he’ll sleep on the couch.


Grandpa tells the kids that he’s home. At the supper table Zeb tells his son that he paid the power bill by doing work for the Baldwin’s, but insists he not tell Esther. Zeb finds Olivia bringing his bedclothes to the couch. Zeb confronts his wife, telling her there are reasonable explanations, especially for the smell of perfume on him. Grandpa decides that if Esther doesn’t want him in their bed, then she doesn’t want him in the house, and stomps out of the house.


In the morning John-Boy finds Grandpa sleeping on Ike’s pool table. Zeb says he won’t return until Esther has a change-of-heart, but John-Boy isn’t sure Grandma will apologize. Grandpa gives Ike sixteen cents for breakfast and John-Boy includes the remaining candle money. Grandma sweeps the kitchen floor while Mary Ellen mopes around unsure if she’ll be allowed to go to the dance. Grandma explains how she got on her mother’s good graces whenever she wanted to go to a dance. Suddenly the radio turns on without explanation. Grandma learns from John that Grandpa paid the bill with work from the Baldwin sisters. Grandma says, “There’s no fool like an old fool!”


John-Boy rides up on Old Blue to say he saw Grandpa at the store. Olivia tells Grandma where Zeb spent the night, speculating he probably “feels hurt and put out”. Grandma decides to go to Ike’s to “price a few things”. As John-Boy drives her, he imagines that Grandpa will lit up when he sees her, be kind to her, and say, “Let’s go home, old woman.” But at the store Ike tells them that Zeb left earlier for the Baldwin’s. Grandma says to John-Boy, “Real life isn’t like a story!”


Zeb asks the Baldwin sisters if they have seen Esther’s gift. Miss Emily searches while Miss Mamie gives Zeb some Recipe for his aching joints. Miss Emily finds the perfume in her purse. Both ask Zeb if he will be attending the dance tonight. As Zeb walks back he runs into John-Boy driving the truck. John-Boy tells Zeb that Esther was at the store when Ike told her that he was at the Baldwin house. Zeb says, “Jealousy, that green-eyed monster!” He gives John-Boy the perfume to give to Grandma and to tell her why he was at the house. John-Boy says that he and Grandma couldn’t remain apart “any more than the Sun and the Moon”. Grandma handles her perfume as Olivia brings her lunch. Grandma says the perfume is the first gift that Zeb has given her that wasn’t something she needed. Esther tells Olivia that she is too proud to go back to Ike’s, and Zeb is too proud to come here.


As Mary Ellen completes the ironing Olivia tells her daughter that the children can go to the dance. Mary Ellen says she is curious to see Grandma’s old beau, the one Grandpa used to be jealousy of. Olivia tells Grandma she is going to the dance because jealousy can go both ways. John-Boy stops by Ike’s all dressed up to tell Grandpa that Grandma is getting ready for the dance, probably to see Fred Hansen. Grandpa wonders why she would want to see “that long-legged squirt”. Grandpa decides to go to the dance.


Fred Hansen is calling the dance, the children are dancing, and Miss Mamie and Miss Emily are clapping to the music. Soon Fred comes over to Esther. She introduces him to John and Olivia, he asks her to dance as the band plays My Darlin’ Clementine, and while dancing Ike, Grandpa, and John-Boy arrive. Grandpa sees Esther, but asks Miss Emily to dance. Grandma also sees Zeb dancing. At the end of the song, John makes a special request to Hansen. With Esther sitting down, Zeb asks Miss Mamie to dance but realizes that the song is My Wild Irish Rose. He excuses himself, motions for John-Boy to dance with Miss Mamie, and walks to his wife saying, “At first I didn’t recognize the tune.” Grandma says, “I always saved it for you.” and Grandpa responds, “So you did.” As the family watches on, husband and wife dance together.


That night John-Boy writes in his journal:


We are all dancers. In each of us there is a need to move to the beat of music, to circle, to tempt, to embrace, and finally to move together in pairs. And when all else of 1934 is forgotten I will still treasure this house, this year, and this night.


Grandma: Zeb!

Grandpa: (snorts).

Grandma: Do you suppose Miss Mamie was offended when you quit dancing with her?

Grandpa: She's an understanding woman.

Grandma: I'm glad.

Grandpa: Goodnight, Esther.

Grandma: Goodnight, Zeb.

Grandpa: Your feet are cold!



The year is 1934 according to the entry in his journal.

My Wild Irish Rose is Grandpa and Grandma’s favorite song to waltz. The lyrics appear at http://www.acronet.net/~robokopp/eire/mywild.htm.

Grandpa and the Baldwin sisters sing the song On Top of Old Smokey on the way to Charlottesville. The lyrics appear at http://www.bassnote.com/usa/ontopof.html.

The lyrics for the song My Darlin’ Clementine, played by Fred Hansen’s band, is found at: http://www.fed.qut.edu.au/tesol/students/winter99/kazuto/clementine.html

Grandpa has a cousin in Fluvanna County. (Fluvanna County is located east of Nelson County and northeast of Buckingham County.)

The license plates on John’s truck are T-B4905.


Also appearing:

Ike Godsey (Joe Conley), Miss Mamie and Miss Emily Baldwin (Helen Kleeb and Mary Jackson), Ollie Harper (John J. Fox), Fred “Oglethorpe” Hansen (William Paterson), Anker Barnes (Ancel Cook), Electric Company Man (Ed Call).


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