Ep.9 - The Waiting

  Original Airdate: November 22, 1979
Writer: Kathleen Hite
Director: Philip Leacock


  Olivia volunteers with the Red Cross to be close to John-Boy at the hospital. Rose is determined to make a memorable Thanksgiving dinner but the family isn't ready to celebrate.


  "Joy and tragedy walked hand in hand during the dark days of World War Two. When good news came it always seemed to be tinged with sadness, the words "your son is alive" were too often followed by the phrase "he is badly injured". When those words came to my family it meant that the long wait was not over, it had just begun."



The delivery of newspapers arrive at the general store and Ike excitedly tell’s Corabeth that the front cover announces that John-Boy has been saved. He runs out the door to deliver a copy to the Waltons. John and Olivia prepare to drive to the hospital in Alexandria. As the family gathers to say goodbye Ike arrives with the paper and Elizabeth reads the story. John and Olivia drive off in the woody station wagon. They arrive at the hospital and are bewildered by all the activity. They ask for directions and discover that the “No Visitors” are permitted in the room without the doctor’s approval. They are asked to wait in the waiting room by a nurse.

Rose hangs wet laundry on the clothesline. She is in a very cheerful mood and shows her affection to Elizabeth and Jim-Bob.

Dr. Banion meets with John and Olivia. He informs them that John-Boy has lost his memory and they need to now wait and give him time to recover. He gives them permission to enter his room

Back on Walton’s Mountain Serena says her prayers and asks God to watch over John-Boy. Elizabeth overhears her and is surprised that she has such care for someone she hasn’t yet met.

A new patient, Sam Stodder, is brought in to the empty bed beside John-Boy. They are quite boisterous during the transfer from gurney to bed. John and Olivia ask for some quiet but Nurse Corrigan says that a tank could drive through the room without disturbing John-Boy. Later the new patient says that Nurse Corrigan is gruff to protect herself from all the horrible things she witnesses everyday.

Back at home the family is anxious to hear news about john-Boy. No one is too interested in having second’s of Rose’s eggplant for dinner. Rose suggests that they all work together on making the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner but the family doesn’t have the same culinary tastes as Rose.

John leaves Olivia to stay and wait at the hospital and returns back home to the family. He tells them that John-Boy was shot down off the coast of Belgium and was picked up by a fishing trawler. He was at a hospital in England for a few months and it took time to identify him because he had lost his dog tags. Despite Rose’s best intentions the family is not too interested in celebrating Thanksgiving this year.

Olivia talks to John-Boy and describes the colors of scenes on Walton’s Mountain. Sam listens to her from the other bed. Olivia learns that he has lost the use of his legs but he is good humored about it. Olivia leaves for the night. Outside Mrs Denman from the Red Cross catches up with her. She has been transferred to the Eastern office and has been following John-Boy’s case. She invites Olivia to her place for dinner. Mrs. Denman is looking for volunteer case worker’s and offers a position to Olivia while she wits on John-Boy’s recovery and she also offers her to stay in her apartment for half the rent.

Olivia goes home for the weekend and discusses it with John. Before she leaves for Alexandria again Jason races home from Camp Rockfish to see her off.

She says goodbye to the family and they get to see her in her new Red Cross uniform. At the hospital she has the unfortunate task of informing family members of injuries sustained by their sons in the line of service. During her break she goes back upstairs to John-Boy’s room and reads his book “Walton’s Mountain” to him. Nurse Corrigan is surprised to learn that he wrote the book she is reading himself. Olivia believes that it is a better method of reaching John-Boy than driving a tank through the room.

Rose brings out mince meat filling for Erin and Mary Ellen to try. She is determined to make the best Thanksgiving dinner worthy of Grandma and Olivia’s cooking. The girls are still not convinced that the family is ready for a big celebratory meal. Rose knows they all are worried about John-Boy, Grandma and Olivia. She tells them that they are not the only one’s who are missing someone.

Olivia continues to read to John-Boy. She puts the book down and wonders if he hears her. Sam calls form the other side of the room and says that he was listening. Olivia goes to his side and learns that he has no family to go to once he leaves the hospital. That the only one that has ever looked after him was himself. At that moment they both hear John-Boy call out to her. Olivia tells the doctor that she heard him call her by her name, “Mama”. He says that he may have had a fleeting moment of lucidity but it won’t be a breakthrough until it continues. Olivia has all the hope she needs and calls John at the house with the news. The family’s spirits immediately picks up anf the dinner is back on. Jim-Bob gets the shot gun to shoot a turkey. Rose comes in with chicken eggs and wonders what all the fuss is about.

Olivia and Mrs. Denman relax he their apartment. Olivia tries her best to convince Mrs. Denman to spend time with Sam over the Thanksgiving holiday. He needs a friend and Mrs. Denman is alone and misses her son that she lost in the war. Mrs. Denman insists that she wouldn’t be good company.

John surprises Olivia at the hospital. They go up to John-Boy room and see Mrs. Denman rolling Sam out in a wheelchair. She is taking him down to the cafeteria for Turkey dinner. Olivia and John go inside to be with John-Boy.

Rose brings the turkey to the table and Jim-Bob asks her to give grace. At the hospital John gives grace for the cafeteria meal he will share with Olivia. John-Boy reaches out with his hand to hold his parents while they are giving grace. John stops and they overwhelmed with joy. They tank their son's hand in theirs and are thankful for the sign of his improvement.


  "And so they started back, so many young men, from tunnels of darkness to light, from the very door of death to the first turning step back to life, and the families hearts were glad, all over the land."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • This episode’s preview begins with Earl Hamner “On the last episode of The Walton’s” with that episode’s final scene depicting Mrs. Denman telling Olivia, John and Mary Ellen that John-Boy has been found but is in very serious condition at a hospital in Washington D.C.
  • This episode introduces Robert Wightman in the role of John-Boy Walton
  • This is the last regular appearance of Michael Learned (Olivia Walton)
  • Morgan Stevens who plays a hospital patient returns as Erin's love interest "Paul Matthews Northridge" in"The Lumberjack" (s9-ep19)
  • This episode depicts a bundle of newspapers being delivered to Ike Godsey’s store.

Additional Cast:



Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth), Leslie Winston (Cindy), Peggy Rea (Rose Burton), Keith Mitchell (Jeffrey), Martha Nix (Serena), K. Callan (Nurse Corrigan), Morgan Stevens (Sam Stodder), Diana Douglas (Mrs. Denman), Regis Cordic (Dr. Banion), Robert Wightman (John-Boy)


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