Ep.20 - The Test

  Original Airdate: February 5, 1976
Writer: Nigel McKeand
Director: Alf Kjellin



After John loses his payment for a large furniture contract, Olivia finds work in a dress shop in Westham. Maude Gormley's son wants to put her in a old-age home.


  "There was one daily reality in our life on Walton's Mountain, and that was the Depression and our constant and continuing need for money. I count it remarkable that we, and others like us, were not totally defeated by hard times. The credit for that of course must go to our parents and their unique strengths, strengths that were tested almost daily."



The men are busy putting the finishing stain on a large order of chairs and furniture for Ed Knightly who is the contractor for a new hotel. John is quite worked up about getting the order finished. Grandpa has mistakingly made an extra rocking chair and they decide to use it at the house.

John takes a moment to relax with Olivia and she tells him about Martha Langley who was her best friend in school that moved away to Wainsfield, Georgia when she was 14. She liked the idea of having a friend who was the same age as her and misses having a friend like that to share experiences with. John says that he is no Martha Langley but he’s an awful lot of fun and asks if she will come with him to the bank to cash the cheque for the big hotel order they just finished . Ed Knightly, the contractor arrives with bad news. The boiler at the hotel blew up taking a good portion of the hotel and their customer’s money with it.

Olivia makes a dress for Elizabeth and her doll. They go to show off the dress to the Baldwin sisters who had given Elizabeth the material. The Baldwin's are so impressed with Olivia’s work they ask if she will sew some of the fabrics that their Papa had brought back from his travels around the world. Olivia sews 2 dresses for them that they wear to a garden party in Westham. Stella Lewis, a boutique owner sees Olivia’s work and offers her a job in her shop for $12 a week. Olivia is quite excited by the opportunity and meets Stella at her shop. When she gets home she tells everyone how it seems like they've always know each other. They knew the same boys and she grew up 3 miles from Her childhood home. Olivia can't stop expressing how much fun she had with Stella. John is bothered by the idea of his wife leaving the home to help sport the family. The job is full time in Westham. She says that Grandma will be home when the child finish school and that she will be home before dark.

When Olivia goes for lunch with Stella she remembers seeing the dress Olivia made during high school for 4-H Club. It actually inspired Stella to pursue her career path. Later while Olivia is trying on a satin green dress in the store Stella asks her if she will join her on a week-long buying trip in New York City. Stella gives her the weekend to think about it. The family gives Olivia their blessing. Exited to learn Olivia’s decision Stella arrives at their home to meet the family she has heard south about. She watches as the children help to get Reckless the dog out of the treehouse. Later that evening after the children have gone to bed Stella asks Olivia a new question. She wants Olivia to take over her shop so she can expand to Richmond and eventually Washington or New York.

Olivia loses sleep worrying about her decision. In the morning she is still torn with her decision and struggles to pick out a dress for the day. John-Boy waits impatiently to take her to Westham on his way to school. Olivia finally puts on her home work dress after deciding to stay home where she knows she belongs with her family. John is so pleased with her decision that he gets caught by Grandma as they smooch in broad daylight.

Secondary Story:

  Maude Gormley stops by unexpectedly for a visit and Ben brings Myrtle the goat for her to see again. Later Grandma and Grandpa investigate a prowler in their barn and find that Maude has returned who is trying to hide from her son who wants to move her in a Old Age Home closer to him in Westham. Leonard is concerned that she may cause herself some harm living on her own. Maude goes off with him defeated in her protests. Grandma comes for a visit to see her new place. They talk about picking berries in John-Boy’s meadow. Grandma says that they can do that but Maude says that that won't happen as she feels that she is in jail. Maude escapes from the Old Age Home and returns to the Walton’s on Abel Bingley’s Ice Wagon to go berry picking with Grandma. She states that her son will just have to get used to the possibility that she may cause herself some harm and he will have to learn and cope.


  "There were other peaks and valleys for our family during the remainder of the Depression, but it seems now as if each testing was a strengthening of our regard for each other. Our family unity would not permit us to be defeated. Downed and struggling sometimes but never defeated."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • Olivia admits to having a crush on Rev. Perry when she was 13.
  • A rare handheld shot follows Olivia when she can't sleep from her bedroom to the living room. It is used to convey a sense of unrest as she processes her feelings about working full-time in Stella’s store.

Additional Cast:


Abby Dalton (Stella Lewis), Merie Earle (Maude Gormley), John Wheeler (Leonard Gormley), James O'Connell (Ed Knightley), David Clarke (Abel Bingley), Nancy Gallant (The Waitress)


Music from this episode:

A light scene change theme
A harmonica and banjo theme as the kids attempt to remove Reckless the dog from the treehouse
Olivia struggles with her decision the leave the home to work in a dress shop


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