Ep.17 - The Career Girl

  Original Airdate: January 27, 1977
Writer: Kathleen Hite
Director: Harry Harris


  Erin graduates from high school but has no plans for the future until she finds purpose in helping John-Boy to complete his novel. Ike believes that he is the central character in John-Boy's novel.


  "It had been my father's dream that each of his children received at least a high school education, and for a good many years there was a Walton in every graduating class of the Walton Mountain school. So it was, in 1937 when it came time for my sister Erin to leave behind the security of high school and to face an uncertain future."



The family gathers for Erin’s high-school graduation ceremony. When the super-intendant’s car breaks down, Rosemary Fordwich asks John-Boy to make the graduating speech and help hand out the certificates. Mrs. Fordwich announces the plans each graduate has for their future but doesn't know what Erin’s plans are. Erin becomes upset when she realizes that she has no ambitions yet.

At the party held at the Walton’s Erin feels more distraught about her situation and withdraws to her bedroom.

Jim-Bob is working at Ike’s pumping gas for his customers. Ike quizzes Jim-Bob about John-Boy’s novel. He believes that John-Boy has been writing his book about him. He feels that his store is the epicenter of the community and surely the book must be about him. He convinces Jim-Bob to sneak a peek at what John-Boy’s novel is about.

As John-Boy drives Erin to work at the Telephone Office he mentions how he requires a typewriter to submit his novel to the book publishers. He says that the one he borrowed from the Baldwin sisters burned up in their house fire.

At work Miss Fanny has bought Erin her own headset for the switchboard as a graduation present. The gift makes Erin feel like she may be stuck behind the switchboard forever.

John-Boy looks to trade some ad space for a typewriter with the owner of Carr's Fix-it Shop. The unit in his price range requires an additional $15 of repairs above the price. John-Boy continues his search.

Erin applies for a job as a waitress at Shirley’s Truckstop. The owner asks Erin to get permission from her parents. Olivia says that she has been saying “no” to her children most of their lives and agrees with John and allows Erin to take the job. When Jason arrives at the Truckstop to drive Erin home he gets into a fight protecting his sister when an older customer grabs Erin’s arm and gets fresh with her. Jason ends up with a black eye, a cut lip and a bruised arm and won't be able to play music or earn any money for a month.

Flossie Brimmer shows John-Boy a typewriter that was left behind by a previous border but it is borken beyond repair.

With his arm in a sling Jason tries to dictate his schoolwork to Elizabeth she is unable to keep up with his terminology. She asks Erin to take over for her.

Ike has a new key making machine. He asks Jim-Bob to come over and take a look but he really wants to know what Jim-Bob has found out about John-Boy’s book. He is stunned to learn that he is not in the book.

Back at home John brings Erin’s dinner to her where she is crying in the bedroom. He offers his support but feels powerless to fix her problems. It’s not as easy as grabbing her by the neck and pulling her out of the bed like he would with one of her brothers. John-Boy suggests that she think about somebody else for a change instead of taking pity on herself.

The next morning she gets Ben to take her to work early and she sees a sign for a used typewriter for sale at the Rockfish business school. When she goes inside she finds the office empty and the switchboard ringing with phone calls. Erin takes initiative and answers the calls and takes messages. The owner Jane Stevens enters, sees Erin’s abilities and offers her a job to answer her switchboard and do some clerical duties. She accepts the offer in exchange to pay for the typewriter for John-Boy. She is invigorated with her new purpose.

John-Boy stops by Ike’s store to pick up the mail but gets an earful from Ike who is upset that he is not included as a character in his novel.

When John-Boy arrives at the Telephone Office to drive Erin home he learns from a disgruntled Miss Fanny that Erin is working a second job down at the business school. When he enters the school and sees Erin working behind the front desk he immediately believes that Erin should be taking business classes to improve her skills instead of working in the office. He tries to make a deal with Miss Stevens and offers her some newspaper ads for her school in exchange for the cost of Erin's tuition. Miss Stevens is touched by the generosity of the two siblings. She asks John-Boy to help her move typewriter that is on the table in front of him. He quickly learns though that it is meant for him as Erin had been working at the office to earn the typewriter for him.


  "The family was grateful and pleased that Erin found a role for herself in life. She did go to business school, enjoyed it, and excelled in her work. Later, she married and mothered a family of her own. The typewriter, well, it typed my first novel, and interrupted the quiet nights on Walton's Mountain for years to come."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • This episode make multiple refences to events from previously depicted eventsin the series including the house fire in The Burnout (s4-ep18), John-Boy borrowing the Baldwin typewriter in The Typewriter (s1-ep5), Ike lending his photos and family history to John-Boy in The Chicken Thief (s2-ep6) as well as lending his motorcycle to Jim-Bob for a race in The Great Motorcycle Race (s5-ep9).
  • As John-Boy reads from the novel he is writing about his family he reads the closing words from Earl Hamner's novel Spencer's Mountain which was the first work to inspire the creation of The Waltons TV series.
  • Actress Billie Bird who plays Shirley, the Truckstop owner, previously appeared as Mrs. Cox in The Fledging (s4-ep23) when she buys a bus ticket from John-Boy.

Additional Cast:



Mariclaire Costello (Rosemary Fordwick), Billie Bird (Shirley), Tom Bower (Curtis Willard), Donald Holton (Eli Carr), Ted Jordan (Spurgeon Connors), Sheila Allen (Fanny Tatum), Alice Hirson (Jane Stephens), Nora Marlowe (Mrs. Brimmer), Joe Conley (Ike Godsey)


Music from this episode:

Intro theme to episode
Theme after Erin's Graduation


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