Ep.4 - The Obsession

  Original Airdate: October 19, 1978
Writer: Juliet Packer
Director: Gwen Arner


  Mary Ellen becomes dependant on medication in order to put int eh hours to study for her nursing exam. Cissy decides to divorce Yancy Tucker.

Intro scene:


Mary Ellen works late on her nursing studies at the kitchen table. her mother comes down and is worried about all the hours she is putting in. Mary Ellen tells her not to worry but once her mama returns upstairs she begins to feel dizzy and knocks over her cup of tea and sends it crashing to the floor.


  "The war in Europe brought to Walton's Mountain a renewed awareness of the frailty of human freedom. We realised that an ocean away people were fighting and dying for independence. In the Fall of 1941 our family was to witness another fight for freedom. It was a fight that would reveal to all of us a new kind of courage."



Mary Ellen burns the midnight oil to complete an accelerated nursing program so that she can join Curt and work alongside him in the army. Olivia is worried about her and wishes that she would let John Curtis stay with her and John in their bedroom until she is done with her tests. Mary Ellen disagrees as bedtime is the only time she has to be with her baby.

David Spencer walks into to the staff lounge for a coffee and finds Mary Ellen asleep in a chair. He wakes her which she is pleased about so that she can still make it to her 2pm Biology class. He invites her to join him for a coffee after her class as he figures she could use one. Just as Mary Ellen is about to leave another nurse suggests that she try some Amphetamine pills to give her the boost she needs to complete her studies. Mary Ellen shies away from the idea.

Over coffee Mary Ellen asks David for some pep pills to get her through for 3 or 4 days until her test.

Mary Ellen takes a pep pill just as Elizabeth and Jason walk into the kitchen. Elizabeth uses her “Jessica Girl Spy Novel” skills to deduce that Mary Ellen hasn’t slept all night because she is still wearing the same uniform from the previous day.

Mary Ellen drops John Curtis off with Daisy Garner who watches him while she is at Nursing School. She has also received a letter from Curt informing her that he will be arriving home soon for a few days of leave.

Curt has returned from service to be with Mary Ellen. He gives her a jar of “the recipe” that he got from the Baldwins so that she can rub it on John Curtis’ sore gums.

Mary Ellen asks David for more pills, as well as sedatives. David is not very happy about helping her and is afraid she may become addicted.

The next morning Mary Ellen comes down to the kitchen full of energy. Jason and her Mama wonder if she is okay. Erin walks in and asks her for a quarter she owes Jim-Bob for loses a bet. Mary Ellen then explodes when Erin begins to look in her purse for change. She is afraid that her pills might be discovered and storms upstairs after snatching her urse out of Erin’s hands.

Later Mary Ellen makes her way to pick up John Curtis from Daisy’s place. Just as she pulls up Mary Ellen has a dizzy spell and over over the curbs and hits a tree. Jason, who has been helping Daisy to install a swing for her daughter runs to Mary Ellen’s aid. Mary Ellen dismisses the event as nothing but Daisy wonders if she is taking pills. She has seen enough dancers who have used them and knows the signs. Jason confronts Mary Ellen later behind the barn. She admits to taking pills but is not going to take advice from her brother.

John goes off on a trip to see Matt and Betty-Lou and wishes Mary Ellen luck on her exam if he doesn't see her before he gets bakcl.

Mary Ellen completes her studying the night before her big final exam but can’t sleep and has run out of sedatives. She drives to Curt’s office and breaks in to the medicine cabinet and grabs some pills. Daisy comes to the office door and questions why Mary Ellen is there so late. Mary Ellen tells Daisy to mind her own business but then realizes the mess of broken glass she has made. She begins to clean it up but cuts herself in the process. Knowing that she has gone too far she cries out to Daisy for help.

Jason brings Mary Ellen home after his work at the Dew Drop Inn. Mary Ellen admits to her mother that she has been taking pills and broke into the office to get more. She is still unable to sleep. Olivia and Jason work to calm Mary Ellen down with blankets and warm milk. Olivia fetches Mary Ellen’s copy of “Florence Nightingale” and reads the entire book by the time Mary Ellen has fallen asleep. John comes home from his trip and finds them in the living room.

A few days after the exam Mary Ellen helps her Mama in the garden while she detoxifies herslef from the medication. John pulls up with a letter for Mary Ellen. She has passed the exam and is now a registered nurse. At her graduation John arrives late with Curt in tow. He announces that he is being stationed in Pearl Harbor. The family goes in for the ceremony and Curt has the honor of placing Mary Ellen’s nursing cap on her head.

Secondary Story:


Cissy giggles in bed thinking that her husband Yancy is tickling her feet and playing footsies with her. He wakes up and insists it ain’t him. They discover a chicken under the covers that had snuck into their shack overnight.

Cissy has had enough of the animals in the house and packs her suitcase to leave. She is looking to return to the bright lights life she had on route 29 and less of the backwater remote life at Yancy’s place.

Yancy drinks his sorrows with Tiger his dog at the Dew Drop Inn. Jason and Ben egg him on bestowing the virtues of being single again.

Yancy arrives at the store to check on his mail. He has received a letter from Cissy stating that she wants a divorce. Ike says that he will have to pay her alimony but Yancy has no idea where he’ll get any money from.

Yancy and Elizabeth visit the Baldwins looking for advice on divorce and whether their Papa had handled any divorce proceedings. They look through his records and discover that the wife usually takes custody of all children, pets and animals.

Elizabeth tries to come up with a strategy to bring Yancy and Cissy back together again but the two manage to do that on their own when Cissy learns that she needs “grounds” for a divorce.


  "On that day we were not only aware of Mary Ellen's victory in becoming a nurse, but also of a greater victory that she had won. We knew that she had found her strength again, and with it had come a bright re-discovery of freedom."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  Elizabeth is 12 years old.

Additional Cast:



Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth), Rachel Longaker (Aimee Godsey), Helen Kleeb (Miss Mamie), Mary Jackson (Miss Emily), Robert Donner (Yancy Tucker); Cissy Wellman (Sissy), Deirdre Lenihan (Daisy), Christopher Woods (David Spencer), Tom Bower (Curt Willard)

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