Ep.3 - The Diploma

  Original Airdate: October 4, 1979
Writer: Kathleen Hite
Director: Gwen Arner


  John runs into trouble with the army when it is discovered that he didn't graduate from high school. Mary Ellen takes over Nurse Nora's patients on the mountain and finds it difficult to win their trust.


  "The intermingling of what had gone before and what lay ahead was a never ending process that touched our lives on the mountain. My father was not a man to live in the past, he honored it, but it was his way to live the time at hand. One early morning in 1943 the present was awaiting my siser Mary Ellen, and the past was ready to catch up with our father."



An uptight lieutenant from Camp Rockfish stops at Ike’s store and asks for directions to John Walton’s mill. Ike tries to crack some jokes with the man but he is all business and not in the mod for Ike’s quips. The lieutenant makes his way to John’s mill and informs him that until he can prove that he graduated he can no longer do work for the army.

John desperately looks for his diploma all over the house. Erin finds his graduation picture which picks up his spirits as he was beginning to doubt his memory. Olivia discovers though that the school principal never put the paperwork through for their diploma when he left early foe the war.

John is bothered that he didn’t actually graduate and feels that he has to be a better role model for his children. Olivia says that there is a test he can study for to earn his diploma. He agrees to take the test and begins to study. He finds it difficult to concentrate and become frustrated with learning things he doesn’t need to function as an adult or run his business.

John takes the test at the same time as some other students at the school. That evening as Mary Ellen and John arrive back home they are greeted by the rest of the family as they celebrate John’s much delayed 1917 graduation.

Secondary Story:


Jeffrey and Serena are excited by the sight of two horses tied to the tree out in the front yard early one morning and wake everyone up. Mary Ellen recognizes them as belonging to Nurse Nora. She finds a note from Nora stating that she has been called into service and she has left her horses and the responsibility off taking care of her patients living on the mountain.

Mary Ellen goes up the mountain to visit the families and get to know their concerns. She finds nothing but resistance from the cautious mountain folk. She visits Grandma Floyd and gets to know Sweet Billy who takes her to see his sister Ronie Cotter and the children Sam and Lady Beasley that she is caring for.

Mary Ellen continues to check in on the Beasley children. Ronie is still skeptical of her book learning and medicine.

Mary Ellen decides to bring her son John Curtis on her visit to see Ronie and the sick children. She wants to bring take them on a picnic. Ronie in the mean time takes John Curtis to play in her backyard. Mary Ellen discovers the gravestones of Ronie’s family that died in an Pox epidemic which explains her distrust for doctors and nurses who were unable to help her with all their books and medicines. Ronie finally warms to Mary Ellen’s efforts and agrees to the picnic. Sweet Billy gives John Curtis a ride on his back and Mary Ellen then gives Billy a book so that his siter Ronie can teach him to read.


  "The past and present joined again that special evening in our home. And it was questionable who had learned the most - our father peparing for a Graduation over a quarter of a century late, or Mary Ellen, gaining new insight with each trip to those remarkable people who live in the backwoods hollows of the Blue Ridge."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • Olivia has been acting as the substitute teacher since Miss Winfield has been away.

Additional Cast:



Guest Stars: Janette Lane Bradbury (Ronie Cotter), Les Lannom (Sweet Billy), Madelaine Taylor Holmes (Grandma Floyd), with: Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth), Leslie Winston (Cindy), Peggy Rea (Rose Burton), Keith Mitchell (Jeffrey), Martha Nix (Serena), Leon Fricke (Lieutenant Eller), Rick Slyter (Sam), Tamar Howard (Lady), Joseph Justice (Guard)

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