Ep.19 - The Inferno

  Original Airdate: February 10, 1977
Writers: Rod Peterson & Claire Whitaker
Director: Harry Harris


  John-Boy wins a writing competition and is awarded the opportunity to witness and write a story on the arrival of the Hindenburg airship.

Curt becomes upset when he finds it difficult to spend time alone with his wife Mary Ellen.


  "In the spring of 1937 my family and I were totally unaware that a truly catastrophic event was about to take place, and that I would be there to witness it."



John-Boy is busy “putting another edition of The Blue Ridge Chronicle to bed”. His parents are adjusting to the their growing empty nest as the children are quickly building lives of their own. A foot pedal breaks on John-Boy’s press just as he is making progress on completing the edition. John offers to weld the part back on for a 6 month half page ad in the paper.

John-Boy wins a competition to cover the story on the arrival of the Hindenburg. He arrives in Lakehurst New Jersey and meets hard drinking, seasoned reporter, Stuart Henry who gives him a ride down to the airfield.

John-Boy is astounded by the spectacle of seeing the airship arrive but then is dumbfounded when he witnesses the explosion and aftermath of the disaster. He returns home but is unable to put his horrific experience into words.

Grandpa calls him down to the living room where Ike Godsey, Mrs. Brimmer, the Baldwin sisters and members of his family present him with a certificate of appreciation for his achievement. When they ask him to describe what he saw his frustration bursts out and shocks his audience. John brings him a piece of Mrs. Brimmer’s cake and offers him some advise on how to deal with his dilemma.

The next morning John-Boy goes up on the mountain with his father to cut some trees. As John-Boy swings his axe he relives his experience in Lakehurst and as the tree falls so does the Hindenburg in his mind. He describes what he experienced to his father. The words flow eloquently from his mouth as he expresses the emotion of what he witnessed. John tells his son that he is ready to write his story now.

Secondary Story:


Curt is getting a little hot under the collar when he can’t find anytime to spend with Mary Ellen alone at home or even to run his doctor’s practice. Member’s of their family keep popping in at all hour’s of the day.

He looks forward to going on a picnic alone with Mary Ellen but ends up taking his share of the deviled eggs to eat alone when he learns that Elizabeth, Aimee, Jim-Bob and Patsy are planning to join them as well.

Mary Ellen makes her way to her family’s home and begins to make breakfast after she wakes in her own empty house. Curt arrives and tells her how his car broke down and he had to walk home. Olivia intervenes and tells them how she and John found a way to have “alone” time without interruptions from the family. She would put a potted Geranium on the railing of the front porch which was a sign that they were not to be disturbed.

The next day after John-Boy finishes his story for the paper he heads off to town and takes Grandpa with him who has spotted Olivia putting a new Geranium of the front porch railing. John learns that it is a gift from Curt and with a mischievous smile decides to take the rest of the morning off to be alone with Olivia.


  "Forty years have passed, but that house still stands, and the solace and comfort and love we knew there as children, continued to sustain us to this day."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • This episode incorporated colorized black and white footage of the real Hindenburg arrival and explosion intercut with footage of Richard Thomas as John-Boy to place him at the historic event.
  • Elizabeth's doll is named Miss Margaret

Additional Cast:



Jack Ging (Stuart Henry), Tom Bower (Curtis Willard), Nora Marlowe (Mrs. Brimmer), Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Mary Jackson (Miss Emily), Helen Kleeb (Miss Mamie), Tom Maier (Bartender)

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