Ep.10 - The Thanksgiving Story

  Original Airdate: November 15, 1973 - 2 Hour Episode
Story: Earl Hamner Jr.
Teleplay: Joanna Lee
Director: Lee Philips


  "Next to Christmas, I suppose you'd have to say that Thanksgiving was our favorite time of the year. We may have been poor in worldly possessions but at Thanksgiving, more than any other time, I think we knew, we really knew, how great was our abundance. It wasn't until the cold November of my 18th year however, that I fully understood what abundance meant. It was a time of terrible questioning for all of us, and when it was over, we all knew a bit more abut Thanksgiving."



  The women and children are busy cooking and preparing for Thanksgiving. John-Boy is excited that his University application is being processed but he's even more excited that his girlfriend Jenny Pendleton is coming back to visit for Thanksgiving. It has as been a year since their whirlwind love affair. He offers to help the men cut lumber for a order but the loose belt breaks and hits him in the head. Although knocked down and bloody he pretends to be okay but he continues to get tremors and blurred vision.
  Later he goes over to the old Pendleton house to do some cleaning before Jenny and her step-mother Eula arrive but they show up a day early and surprise him while he is cleaning the fireplace. Much to his embarrassment they see him covered in soot. John-Boy and Jenny awkwardly try to restart their relationship but a year apart has been a challenge. She has heard about his on and off relationship with Marcia Woolery. They do set aside their past and give it another go. When John-Boy goes and asks the Reverend for a recommendation for the scholarship he falls to ground. He knows that people are going to get wise to his problems but he needs to keep going until he finishes writing the exam for his University scholarship. While writing the test his vision fails and he is unable to complete it. His parents take him to Dr. Vance and the recommendation is for an immediate surgery. Even though there is the risk of blindness or death as a result of the operation it is successful. Concerned that he will miss his opportunity to gain entrance into the University he asks Miss Hunter to try and persuade the University to give him another opportunity to write the exam. He is granted the request but it must happen in 2 days while he is still recuperating in the hospital. Although he is concerned that he may not have the strength he rises to the challenge and takes the exam over again. Finally, the family sits down with their guests for Thanksgiving dinner. To their surprise John-Boy arrives home thanks to Dr. Vance from the hospital.

Secondary Stories:

  Jason gets a job for $0.50 a day helping the Baldwin ladies make more of the recipe. They are making a special batch that they want to give to President Roosevelt. The Baldwin's are impressed with Jason and feel that he would be a suitable heir since their father never had a son to leave his legacy with. Jason chooses not to tell his mother of his new employment which lands him in hot water when the ladies come over to the Walton's and offer to adopt Jason so that he can inherit the Baldwin's property and benefit from their financial help. Olivia is livid by the news but still she musters the strength to be civil and invite the ladies for Thanksgiving despite turning down their generous offer.

Mary-Ellen tries out for the part of Pocahontas in the Thanksgiving play and wins the part over her nemesis Martha Rose who arrives at the casting call in a complete native costume. The family attends the play and Mary Ellen gives a solid performance.

Ben is tired of being the middle child and wants some more responsibility. He asks Grandpa if he can hunt the turkey for the Thanksgiving dinner. They go up the mountain together but Ben misses the shot and end up bargaining with a turkey farmer for a large farm raised bird for the Thanksgiving dinner.


  "Several weeks were to pass before we were to know the decision of the scholarship committee. The announcement came by telegram. My name was on the list - my journey was about to begin - I had won the scholarship."

Episode Notes and Interesting Facts:

  • Actress Sian Barbara Allen returns to play John-Boy's former love interest Jenny Pendleton.
  • The Director of this episode Philip Leacock, was nominated for an Emmy and the writer Joanna Lee, won the Emmy for Best Writing in a Dramatic Series.
  • Richard Thomas and Sian Barbara Allen were dating during this period. They starred together in the 1972 thriller You'll Like My Mother with Patty Duke. Read more about their relationship in this article.
  • Actress Kym Karath appear briefly in this episode. She played the character of Patty Cake (Elizabeth Walton) in Spencer's Mountain. She also played Gretl in The Sound of Music.

Additional Cast:


Guest Stars: Sian Barbara Allen (Jenny Pendleton), Diane Shalet (Eula) with: John Ritter (Rev. Fordwick), Mary Jackson (Emily Baldwin), Helen Kleeb (Mamie Baldwin), Mariclaire Costello (Miss Hunter), Victor Izay (Dr. Vance), G.W. Haines (David Doremus), Cindy Eilbacher (Martha Rose), Nadine Turney (Miss Monsell), Claudia Bryar (Nurse Stewart), Rance Howard (Dr. McIvers), Ivan Bonar (Dr. Haley), David Henesy (Jerry), Paul Sorensen (Higgins), Monty Margetts (Teacher), Keith Atkinson (Procter), Teresa Medaris (Fern), Kym Kareth (Mabel), Betsy Finely (Nurse)


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