Ep.8 - The Illusion

  Original Airdate: November 16, 1978
Writer: John McGreevey
Director: Walter Alzmann


  Verdie's daughter Esther returns home after receiving a college education and living in New York but all is not as was thought about her life. Erin applies for a job at Pickett Metal Products.

Intro scene:


Verdie is embarrassed by something that her daughter Esther said at Ike Godsey’s store. Olivia tries to appeal to Esther after Verdie storms off but Esther asks her not to mettle in her affairs.


  "In my family one of the earliest truths we learned was the inevitability of change. We saw this in the march of the seasons across the land, and in the sometimes bewildering growth of our brothers and sisters. As World War Two edged closer to us all, the patterns of change accelerated, carrying some of us far from home, bringing others back to the mountain with painful consequences."



Olivia helps John pack for a business trip. He says he won’t be back till next Thursday or Friday. He says goodbye to his family downstairs who are eating their breakfast. He wishes Erin good luck applying for a new job at Pickett Metal Products.

Olivia runs into Verdie at the store who is waiting for her mail. She is concerned that it has been returned with no forwarding address for her daughter Esther. Ike shows them a Honor Board he has installed with the names of the service men who have enlisted from the community. Ike is proud of it but Verdie is disturbed to see that her son Jody placed under a separate “Colored” list. Olivia shares her quiet disappointment which they do not voice. Corabeth then arrives and informs Olivia that the Lady’s Auxiliary are meeting in the back to roll bandages for the troops. Noticing that Verdie won’t be included Corabeth suggests that Verdie could form her own “group” with her ‘Friends” to help the war effort. Verdie politely declines stating that she is already doing her part. When she leaves Corabeth turns to Olivia and states that she was just trying to make her feel like part of the effort. Olivia replies that she understands. In reality she is bothered by the clear display of racism that she has witnessed.

Jason and Erin arrive at J.D. Pickett's plant. They find a roomful of men and women looking for work. J.D. greets the two Waltons and says that the work pays $0.60/hr. and that they could make $35 a week with overtime. The plant will be making mess kits and canteens for the war effort. He plans to run 3 shifts a day, 7 days a week. He gives Erin a job on the spot and offers one to Jason as well but Jason politely declines due to his busy schedule.

On their way home they see Esther walking down the road, struggling to carry her baby and suitcase. Erin recognizes her and they offer her a ride home. On the way Jason and Erin praise Esther for all that she has accomplished with her career and education but Esther is disenfranchised by her experience up north.

They arrive at the Foster home and Verdie meets her granddaughter Harriet for the first time. Verdie asks where her husband Clint is and she informs her that have separated and that she is home for good. Later in the kitchen Josh prepares to go to school and is frustrated that he is held back in class while the white kids get to learn about science and more advanced studies. Verdie tells him to be glad that he has the opportunity to learn know while he is young instead of later as an adult like she did. Verdie and Esther have words with each other due to their different opinions and values. They go to Ike’s store where Esther gets into a confrontation with Corabeth. Esther takes exception to how the white ladies roll white bandages for white soldiers. She figured then that the black people should be rolling black bandages for the black soldiers, after all only white blood can be given to white soldiers and black people have to give their blood for the black soldiers. As she turns to leave she sees the service board with the segregated names on it and points out how unjust it is.

On her first shift at the plant Erin can’t get the hang of assembling the mess kits. J.D. insists that she try harder but she quits when he won’t offer her a different position.

At their home Verdie demands to know what has happened to Esther. Esther finally levels with her mother and tells her that the dream she had for her daughter’s college education was a curse. She said that no doors opened for her after she graduated . No one was going to hire an educated black woman to take a white person’s job. She says that she has no place to belong.

Erin thinks that Esther would be great at helping J.D. to place the right people in the right jobs for them. She stops by the Foster’s and suggests going to see J.D. Pickett to help him with his hiring issues. Esther agrees to see it for herself but when they arrive at the pant J.D. is too stubborn to consider Esther to help him with his employee issues. Esther storms off with Erin just as J.D. threatens to call the sheriff to have them removed.

Verdie talks to her daughter who packs her suitcase to return up north. Verdie says that her family comes from a long line of proud people who have refused to stay knocked and keep getting back up and strive to achieve more. She says that Esther has become the most equipped in their family to achieve more than anyone before her. Esther says that she is tired of the fight but her Mother says that she is way to young to be tired. She can be tired when she is in her grave. Esther agrees to visit J.D. one more time.

Esther returns to an empty plant with Erin and negotiates with J.D. to become the new Personal Director. For her first act she hires Erin on as her assistant.

At the store Olivia and Verdie pick up supplies while caring for their grandchildren. The Godsey’s comment on how fortunate Esther is to earn the position. Corabeth says that the war has brought on many changes and Verdie replies that some changes are long past due. As they leave Verdie politely asks Ike to put her son Jody’s name where it belongs under the “F”’s or “kindly remove it all together.”


  "In those anxious days when the rest of the world seemed to be collapsing under the assault of the Axis powers, my family and our friends were reassessing the attitudes and illusions that had sustained us in the past. Under stress, new insights were revealed, the enduring values were reafirmed, and out of the emotional crucible of the time emerged the strength and confidence on which we could stand to face the critical days ahead."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • Lewis Arquette who plays Jefferson Davis (J.D.) Pickett, Jr. is the father of Patricia, Rosanna and David Arquette. J.D. has converted his father's old factory into a defense plant (Pickett Metal Products) for the purpose of making mess kits and canteens for the pending war effort.
  • Ike's honor roll is titled 'USA — Our Boys in Service'. It contains the names Percy F. Johns, Curtis M. Willard, Norman W. Boyer, Cecil L. Prosser on top; and the names Jody Lee Foster and Billy G. Woodruff on the bottom in the colored section.

Additional Cast:



Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth), Lynn Hamilton (Verdie Foster), Todd Bridges (Josh Foster), Joan Pringle (Esther Grant), Lewis Arquette (J.D. Pickett)


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