Ep.24 - The Achievement

  Original Airdate: March 17, 1977
Writers: Dale Eunson, Earl Hamner and Andy White
Director: Harry Harris


  John-Boy travel to New York City to learn if his novel is accepted by a publisher. Elizabeth is enamoured with a novel herself about "Jessica Girl Spy".


  "It came as a co-incidence that just as I finally completed my first novel, Elizabeth for the first time became enthralled with a book. I wondered if what I had written would ever be published and read half so avidly."



John-Boy stops in at Ike’s store to see if any word has arrived from the publisher that he submitted his novel to. Ike takes his responsibilities has post master very seriously and gives John-Boy multiple lectures about the importance of his duties. On one visit though he suggests that it is possible that his manuscript could have been lost in the mail. This news send John-Boy into a dither and he immediately calls the publisher in New York. He learns that it may take months for his Novel to be read. He makes the decision to travel to New York to confirm that they have received his manuscript.

John-Boy heads to New-York and immediately goes to the publishers offices at Hastings House. When he arrives he is curtly dismissed by the receptionist who receives inquiries such as this on a regular basis. John-Boy expresses that he has spent 5 years of his life writing his novel and only wants to confirm that they have received his submission. Belle Becker the publisher overhears his impassioned plea and invites him in to her office to see the stack of unsolicited manuscripts on her table thus explaining why it takes so long to read each one. He looks through the pile and finds his. She invites him to sit and tell her about the novel. He says that most of what is in his novel is true that he fictionalized some of it but that it is about his family and himself. He tells her how he always wanted to write and that he always kept a journal. We watch as we see a younger John-Boy explaining to his mother who has just discovered the secret journals he has been hiding under his mattress. We see how his father supports his interests and gives him the permission to pursue his writing. We see how his teacher Rosemary Hunter inspires him to submit his stories for publication. He tells has his grandmother was a surprising source of support who said that she would tell him the old stories of their family as an inheritance to him. He also tells of meeting A.J. Covington and the advice he gave as a professional writer.

After Miss Becker has listened to his story she gets up and prepares to leave. She grabs a few submissions to take home to read. He asks if she would consider reading his over the weekend while he waits in the city. She accepts and says she will have an answer for him on Monday.

His parents arrive at Ike’s to make a return phone call to John-Boy in New York. He is running short on money and wonders how he'll be able to wait for word of his novel through the whole weekend. He says he has enough money for buses and ferries that he can go around sightseeing. He mentions to his father that he is going to look up his old dance partner Daisy Garner who works at a dance club in the city. His mother wonders if he could find a church to help him out but his father knows better and says that there are plenty of things to find in the city.

Elizabeth has become enthralled with a novel about "Jessica Girl Spy" and wants to be called Jessica herself. Her imagination gets away from her as she imagines all the things he must be experiencing in New York.

John-Boy finds Daisy and buys a dance ticket for a dime to talk with her. She tells him that this is the city where everything happens. She doesn't just dance in the social club but has been in 2 musicals so far. He walks her to a final audition the next day for a speaking role.

John-Boy visits the home of Edith Catherine Herbert, the writer of the “Jessica Girl Spy” novel that his sister Elizabeth adores. He learns from her mother that she passed away a few months prior. She invites him into her apartment and shows him the unfinished manuscript that her daughter was working on. She give John-Boy an autographed copy of her novel and a page from the hand written manuscript for Elizabeth. The mother also reads the letter she received from Elizabeth to John-Boy and asks if he will tell her about the novel that he has written himself. He tells her how he is waiting to hear word from the publisher and how he had to rewrite the novel after the first burned up in the family’s house fire a year before.

John-Boy arrives at Hasting House on Monday morning to learn of Belle Becker’s opinion of his novel. He gets a warm reception this time but we don't learn yet of her answer.

John-Boy return back home on the bus and Jim-Bob is waiting at the station in his old jalopy that he has finally completed and got working. At home the family welcomes him back and learns that the publisher has accepted his novel. John-Boy has a moment alone with Elizabeth to give her the autographed “Jessica Girl Spy” novel and the page of manuscript from the author’s unfinished novel. Elizabeth takes the news of her passing hard but doesn't want to cry. She hopes that she will enjoy reading John-Boy’s novel as much as she did with Jessica Girl Spy.

At dinner John-Boy tells the family of his experiences in New York and of seeing things like the Statue of Liberty. He says that walking out of Hastings House with a contract and his novel under his arm felt like carrying his own baby. Mary Ellen says that it is not quite the same thing and then announces that she’s pregnant. The family jumps up to congratulate her. Curt interrupts all the attention that Mary Ellen it getting and asks if everyone knows who the father is. They laugh and congratulate him too.

After dinner John-Boy sits on the porch with the adults and expresses his feelings about seeing New York. Grandpa asks how they feel about their oldest flying the coop. John-Boy’s father says that he doesn't believe they could stop him if they wanted to. His Mama makes an excuse that she better start darning his socks for fear of being seen shedding a tear for her son. Grandpa reminds him not forget his way home and his Daddy just gives him the hug of a proud father.

As the family says there “goodnights” to each other John-Boy listens from outside and quietly wishes all of them a “goodnight” and love.


  "I did leave Walton's Mountain to live and work in New York City. I wrote more novels and raised a family of my own. Today, we live in California, but no matter where I am, the call of a night bird, the rumble of a train crossing a trestle, the scent of crab apple, the lowing of a sleepy cow can call me home again. In memory I stand before that small white house, and I can still hear those sweet voices."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • This is the final regular appearance for Richard Thomas as John-Boy in the series. Richard Thomas chose not to extend his contract past it's initial 5 year limit. He reappears to guest star in 2 episodes in season 6 and revives his role as John-Boy in the final 3 Movie specials.
  • This episode employs a number of stock shots of New York City.
  • This episode ues clips from "The Homecoming", "The Typewriter", "The Literary Man", "The Burnout" to showcase formative moments that led John-Boy further down the path to becoming a writer.
  • Michael Learned and Ralph Waite filmed new scenes to replace the footage of the previous actors in the TV movie “The Homcoming” for clips that Richard Thomas played opposite of which was filmed prior to the TV series.
  • Jim-Bob want to be called Jim now. He previously wanted to be called James Robert in his continual attempt to become more mature.
  • Elizabeth Walton is 12 years old.

Additional Cast:



David Huddleston (A.J. Covington), Bettye Ackerman (Belle Becker), Deirdre Lenihan (Daisy), Maggie Malooly (Miss Maddocks), Joan Tompkins (Mrs. Herbert), Tom Bower (Curtis Willard), Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Mariclaire Costello (Miss Hunter), Lynda Sainte-James (Ticket Seller), John Dayton (Mail boy)

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