Ep.5 - The Fire Storm

  Original Airdate: October 21, 1976
Writers: Rod Petersen & Claire Whitaker
Director: Ralph Senensky


  John-Boy is at odds with the community on the developments in Germany. Erin competes in a beauty pageant.


  "The quiet strength of Walton's Mountain always seemed to shelter our house from the rest of the world. In 1937 it was hard for our family and neighbors to believe that we could ever be touched by the trouble that was reaching out from Europe."



John-Boy is affected by a news reel about Germany’s growing hostilities when he takes some of his brothers and sisters to the movies to see Captain Courageous. The movie theater owner Mr. Clayton, is pleased with the ads he has been running in John-Boy's paper. He reports that many customers have come in because of the ads.

Rev. Fordwich holds a meeting of the church committee in the family's Living room. Also in attendance Grandma, Corabeth Godsey and Buck Vernon. The Walton men however are hungry and push for a conclusion to the gathering. As the visitors prepare to leave the Reverend questions why John-Boy would plan to publish snippets from Mein Kampf in his newspaper.

John-Boy and Ben head off to do work on the newspaper. They give Jason a ride to the Dew Drop Inn and on the way they pass David Spencer’s car who is busy necking with Mary Ellen in the front seat. Back at home Erin comes down from her bedroom balancing a book on her head. She plans to enter the Jefferson County Days Beauty Contest. But her parents have no desire for her to enter if she plans to shimmy around in her bathing suit.

At church Rev. Fordwich announces that the Jefferson County Days will be held the following Sunday. He also takes a stand against against Germany’s plans to remove the bible from their churches and John-Boy’s plans to print excerpts of Mein Kampf in his paper. John-Boy is concerned that he has to protect the freedom of the press and to not allow things like book burnings and ignorance from happening in his community.

Grandpa passes over the bridge at Drucilla’s Pond and he recites the poem Annabelle Lee to the statue that he had previously sunk in the pond which reminds him of a long lost love. Erin approaches him who has been dwelling on her problem of not being allowed to enter the beauty pageant. He promises to help figure out a way to make it happen.

He stops by Mrs. Brimmer’s Boarding House to deliver a repaired rocking chair and spends a few enjoyable minutes with Zuleika Dunbar as she shows him some of her old dance moves. She is running the beauty pageant and asks if he'll be a judge. Grandpa uses the opportunity to make a suggestion that may help Erin's cause.

That evening Mrs. Brimmer stops by John-Boy’s newspaper office. She asks him to re-consider his plans about printing his articles about Hitler. She tells him that her husband was German and that they had to move many times to finally find peace away from people who harassed them for being different. She doen't want his actions to stir up those hates again. He states that it is that precise ignorance that compells him to print his articles. She asks for his confidence to keep her secret.

Zen interrupts the family from having dinner in order to reconsider their decision about Erin’s entry into the pageant. She comes down the stairs in her modest full length bathing suit circa 1910. Her Daddy concedes and let's her enter the pageant.

John-Boy learns that Mr. Clayton from the movie theater has decided to pull his ad out of concern for what his customers may think with him supporting a paper that is printing controversial content. When John-Boy heads back to his car he discovers some youth tossing stacks of his newspaper all over the road. He yells at them but they run off yelling Heil Hitler and Zeig Heil.

John-Boy discovers that no ones wants to support or carry his paper even Ike and Corabeth. At home the adults sit quietly around the dinner table while the kids are off at the Baptist Young People's Picnic. David and Mary Ellen arrive from a cocktail hour at the medical school. At first the adults believe that they have been drinking alcohol but David clarifies that it was just punch. They are all startled when a wrong with a swastika painted in it is thrown through their front window. The culprits drive off but John says that he can't allow John-Boy’s paper to affect his family’s safety.

The next day comes home with a new piece of glass for the front window and finds Grandpa getting the frame ready. Grandpa asks about his plans for the paper. John-Boy is discouraged because he has many costs to pay for the press and the newsprint but he also has to keep his advertisers and customers happy too. He figures he’d be better off just sticking to printing the train schedules and weather instead of important issues like those gapping in Germany.

The family attends the beauty pageant but when Erin doesn't win she blames John-Boy and his newspaper. She says that he has turned everyone in the county against them.

Later at a community bonfire the Reverend makes a speech and makes a proposal to hold a symbolic book burning to protest those being held in Germany. Buck Vernon joins him with a bagful of German books he has collected and begins to throw them into the fire. John-Boy jumps up and challenges the men and the community to not allow ignorance to govern their actions. He felt it was his duty to inform them of the actions of a tyrant just like he would if a blight threatening their crops or a scandel threatening their government. After his plea he looks down at the books on the ground. He is shocked to see one book in particular and asks if their is anyone in the crowd that can speak German. Mrs. Brimmer rises from the protective anonymity of her seat and approaches John-Boy. He asks her to read the first paragraph which she does in German. Then he asks her to read the next bit in English and the crowd is agast that it is the Bible printed in German. John-Boy hands the book to the Reverend. The Reverend apologizes and hands the Bible and Mein Kampf into John-Boy's trusted hands. He then asks the community to join him in a hymn. Erin approaches John-Boy and apologizes for her harsh words.


  "My first experience at expressing an unpopular idea nearly turned into a disaster. Fortunately, my family was able to overcome the problems I had helped create for them. The troubles soon died down when people realised I was only trying to let them know that something was stirring in the world that even Waltons Mountain could not keep out of."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:


Additional Cast:



Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth Godsey), John Ritter (Reverend Fordwick), Nora Marlowe (Mrs. Brimmer), Pearl Shear (Zuleika Dunbar), Barry Cahill (Buck Vernon), Robert Merritt Woods (David Spencer), Jason Wingreen (Nat Clayton), Jennifer Rogers (Florabelle Tait), Don Carter (Vandel#1), Larry Hayden (Vandel#2), Art Gilmore (Newsreel announcer)

Music from this episode:

Zuleika Dunbar performs a number from the old days for Zeb
Jason plays the piano while Erin shows the family her 1910 style bathing suit
Jason and fellow bandmates play music for the beauty pageant
The Jefferson County Days event goers sing "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny"
Reverend Fordwich leads the crowd in singing the hymn "Faith of Our Fathers"



Promo Images


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