Ep.4 - The Theft

  Original Airdate: October 4, 1973
Writer: Robert Malcolm Young
Director: Harry Harris


  "Looking back across the span of 40 years the sharp edges of the great Depression have worn away, in memory the period seems a happy time. Yet when we lived them they were trying years, and I remember a time when our family's pride, and our integrity were challenged in a manner that was new and shattering to all of us."




John Walton has been doing some handy work at the Claybourne's. They are a well-to-do family but maybe not is all that it appears to be since the father of the family has passed away. John is concerned about whether they have enough to get by. He has 11 upaid customers in the the past month, Stuart Claybourne had only paid him a dollar for a days work and the Walton's truck has paper thin tires that won't last.

John admits to John-Boy that this is the hardest patch of financial trouble that the family has gone through. John returns to the Claybourne's to finish the repair on their fridge. Mrs. Claybourne requests that he join her for coffee in her drawing room. When they are done she leaves John unattended in the room with all her fine silverware.


Later Mrs. Claybourne and Dewey, her servant search for her missing silver goblets. She believes that John was the only one who had the opportunity to take the items and she asks her son Stuart Lee to call the Sheriff. Meanwhile John has made his way to Charlottesville to buy some new tires for his truck. He also buys Olivia some new material for her to make a new dress. She asks him where he got the money but John is unwilling to answer.

Sheriff Bridges visits the Walton's to question John's whereabouts after he left the Claybourne's. John refuses to answer then he lashes out at John-Boy for not obeying his word. Olivia thinks that maybe John was off playing poker and that is where the money came from. The children on the other hand have allowed the issue to affect their feelings as well. At the diner table John inquires why the family is so quiet and Mary Ellen tells him that John-Boy was in a fight at school trying to protect their father's good name. John tries to apologize and reason with John-Boy but he is mad that his father won't concede to the sames rules that he expects from his family. Later that evening John tells Olivia that he is not ready to explain his actions just yet.

John then runs into Dodge Evanhauer and Sheriff Ep Bridges at Ike's store. He tries to collect money that Dodge owes for firewood which results in a heated exchange. The Sheriff then gets a phone call confirming that John was in Charlottesville after being at the Claybourne's but John still won't account for his actions.

John-Boy and Ben devise a plan to gather some information about the Claybourne's. Ben knocks on their door to offer a magazine subscription but in reality he is looking for signs that may reveal the truth about the situation. He notices that their shoes are all worn out. John-Boy then begins to look into the Claybournes and begins to figure that all is not as it seems. He confronts Stuart Lee and suggests that maybe their pride and appearance of wealth is beginning to hurt other people and an innocent man has been accused because of their lack of honesty. Meanwhile Mrs. Claybourne has arrived at the Walton's to demand her silverware back. Stuart Lee arrives to finally admit the truth that his family has no money and that he has been selling off their valuables to keep up the appearance to his mother that they are still well-to-do. He apologizes to John for getting caught up in their lies. John finally tells Olivia that he hocked his wedding ring to pay for the truck tires and that hopefully they'll be able to earn enough with the truck still on the road to buy back his ring.


  "The Depression lingered on, and there were other bad spells, but we lived through them too. And as each year ended it was difficult to recall the hard times we'd come through. Looking back, I realise now that the real bounty placed before us each day was the love we had for each other. It shaped our lives, fed our souls and crowned our happiness."

Episode Notes and Interesting Facts:

  • Grandma feels that a deck of cards is the "devil's prayer book".

Additional Cast:


Guest Stars: Diana Webster (Mrs. Claybourne), Dennis Dugan (Stuart Lee), Janit Baldwin (Amelia Claybourne), Davis Roberts (Dewey, the Claybourne's servant) with: Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), John Crawford (Sheriff Bridges), Vern Rowe (Dodge Evanhauer), Frederick Downs (Garage Man)


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