Ep.11 - The Substitute

  Original Airdate: November 22, 1973
Writer: John McGreevey
Director: Lee Philips


  "When I was growing up on Walton's Mountain in those years of the great Depression, for me and my brothers and sisters it was a time of making do with the little there was. A time of stretching a nickel till it bought a dime's worth, often a time of doing without. In such times keeping children in school was just too much of a strain for many families, but for my father educating his children had almost the same importance as feeding and clothing us. I remember one day when the regular routine of our school life was threatened."


  Miss Fordwich leaves John-Boy in charge of the school when she learns that her sister has been in an accident. John goes to the board meeting to find a substitute teacher and at the last minute they find a young inexperienced woman from New York, Miss Megan Pollard who is willing to do the job. John offers her free room and board at the Waltons as they are not able to pay her very much.
  John-Boy picks her up at the bus station. Grandma can't tell is she is old trying to look young or young trying to look old. She moves into John-Boy's room and immediately creates a barrier between herself and the family with the door locked and eating meals in her room. At school she changes the schedule and has very little tolerance for tardiness or misbehaving. Her style of teaching causes upset in the classroom and many students drop out from school. The school board has another meeting to try and calm parents concerns. When John tries to talk to Miss Pollard she offers her resignation but still needing a teacher for the school he doesn't want to accept. After John-Boy asks Miss Pollard to read his latest rejected story submission she states that she was embarrassed for him. She suggests that he study the Essays of a serious writer like Emerson but the advice has the opposite affect. John-Boy now know more clearly than ever that he needs to write about feelings and emotions. His words strike a chord with her. Obviously she has kept a distance from her emotions since the passing of her revered father who was a respected educator. When Olivia learns that she has been crying in her room she goes and speaks to her. Megan admits to being 24 and she worked very hard at her schooling and trying to win the favor of her father which she never received. Knowing that she needs acceptance Olivia welcomes Megan for a hug telling her that God didn't give people two arms to hold each other apart. Megan then comes down to the kitchen for her first meal with the family. At school she changes everything back to the way it was when she arrived and asks the students if they can start over and pretend it's her first day as their teacher again.

Secondary Story:

  Ben wants to build a kite for a kite flying contest. Grandpa offers to help and Ben reluctantly accepts. Then Jason shows him a different way to build a kite. Ben is frustrated that he can't build his kite his way. At school Miss Pollard moves him down from grade 6 to 5. At home his Daddy tells him that he should build his kite the way that he wants and not the way others want him to. In the end he finishes the kites for Grandpa and Jason and then reveals the kite he wanted to make.


  "Ben's own personal kite won Second Prize that day, the other three Waltons finished, as they say, "out of the money", but nobody cared. In due time Miss Hunter came back, and although everybody was glad to see her there were tears shed at the thought of losing Miss Pollard. We had learned to know and to love her, and we were all the richer for the time she had spent with us. I still have that collection of Emerson's essays on my desk, and whenever I open its pages I'm carried back again to those Depression years on Walton's Mountain and the sound of those voices of the past."

  • Actress Catherine Burns co-starred with Richard Thomas in the 1969 film Last Summer. She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance. Actor Bruce Davison who guest stars in The Shivaree (s3-ep19) and Ralph Waite played Richard Thomas' father also star in this film.

Additional Cast:


Guest Stars: Catherine Burns (Miss Megan Pollard) with: Mariclaire Costello (Miss Hunter), Kathleen O'Malley (Ethel Richardson), Melanie Freeman (Lucilla Younger)

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