Ep.14 - The Ferris Wheel

  Original Airdate: January 6, 1977
Writers: Rod Petersen & Claire Whitaker
Director: Lawrence Dobkin



Elizabeth is sleepwalking and having nightmares about falling from a ferris wheel. Ben believes that his height is affecting how people see and treat him.


  "Most of our memories of growing up on Walton's Mountain are good ones. But there did come a time when a dark remembrance from Elizabeth's childhood rose to haunt everybody in our house."



Elizabeth has her 2nd nightmare in a week about falling from a Ferris wheel. She wakes on the landing and a number of the family comes running to her aid. She chooses to sleep with Erin in her bed when her mother comforts her back to sleep. Her parents worry about her sleep walking. John-Boy believes that her dreams are being fed by her unconscious mind and that it may be possible to cure her fears if they can reach her unconscious memories.

John-Boy watches Elizabeth’s behaviour and tries to figure out where her fears stem from. He watches her at the carnival sets up the rides outside of Godsey’s store. She is obviously distressed about her dreams. Inside the store John-Boy notices that the Baldwin sisters are buying padlocks to lock all of their doors while the Carnival is in town. They had a few pieces of valuable jewelry stolen the last time the carnies were on Walton’s Mountain.

John-Boy asks Elizabeth about her memories of when the carnival came to town on their previous visit. He remembers that she was missing for a while but she becomes too distressed and runs into the house when he gets too close to the cause of her worries.

John-Boy talks to Mr. Dawes the carnival operator. He is pleased about the handbills that John-Boy printed to promote the fair. Mr. Dawes says that the Ferris wheel operator died the last time they were in town. John-Boy sees Elizabeth looking at the Ferris wheel. He asks if she will take a ride with him if he holds her close. She agrees and remembers that she snuck off and paid a dime to ride the Ferris wheel the last time the carnival was in town. The operator however had left her unattended on the ride which scared her.

The family hopes that she will no longer have anymore nightmares but that night she sneaks out the bedroom window and makes her way to the carnival’s Ferris wheel. John-Boy and Ben find her and while still in her sleep walking trance like state she remembers that the ride operator hid something in a small hole in a nearby rocky outcrop after he was spooked by the Sheriff who was asking nag questions nearby. When the operator returned to the ride he was knocked down by one of the chairs on the ride and never came to. This is the memory that has been haunting Elizabeth. The next day she helps the Sheriff locate the missing jewellery for the Baldwins.

Secondary Story:


Ben comes downstairs all spiffied up in John-Boy’s bow tie and aftershave. He is excited to collect an order for a newspaper ad from Darlene Jarvis at the used car lot in Rockfish. Darlene is very excited to see him but his meeting with her is interupted by a rude salesman who has given Ben the nickname of "Shorty". He goes home and dwells on his problem. He believes that maybe his height is the reason for not attracting Darlene.

Ben's father sees the ad that he has saved for a pair of elevator shoes. He doesn't believe that ben needs special shoes to change his outward appearance for people who only see his height.

Ben's shoes arrive but no one notices that he has gained 2 inches in height with them on. His Daddy talks to him in his bedroom. He says that he has been watching how people look at Ben. He believes that they see a hard working and fun individual and if all they see is his appearance in the outside then they are the ones to come up short.

When Elizabeth is trapped up on a high chair of the carnival Ferris wheel Ben climbs up on the ride to save her from falling. The next day when the carnival opens word has spread about Ben’s heroic actions and Darlene joins him on a date.


  "Never again was Elizabeth to experience the terrors brought on by that frightening memory. And never again would I attempt to unravel the mysteries of the unconscious mind. Once more we could enjoy quiet and peaceful nights in our house on Walton's Mountain."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • Although the assignment of bedroom doors will change from time to time depending on the director and what's required for a specific scene, the family storms out of all the wrong bedroom doors when Elizabeth awakes from sleepwalking early in the episode.
  • This is the last appearance or Grandma Walton until "Grandma Comes Home" (s6-ep22) while actress Ellen Corby recovered from a stroke.

Additional Cast:



Mary Jackson (Miss Emily), Helen Kleeb (Miss Mamie), Debi Richter (Darlene Jarvis), Dave Shelley (Wilbur Dawes), Tom Bower (Curtis Willard), John Crawford (Sheriff Bridges), Jeff Maxwell (Car Salesman), Joe Conley (Ike Godsey)

Music from this episode:

Eerie carnival music heard during Elizabeth's nightmare
A calliope plays music while the carnival sets up
Jason, Jim-Bob and Grandpa sing a rousing rendition of "The Girl on the Flying Trapeze".
Olivia sings Elizabeth to sleep with "Lullaby"
A gentle and soft theme as the family goes to bed which then progresses into Elizabeth's nightmare again.
The carnival calliope plays "Carry me back to Ole' Virginny"


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