Ep.12 - The Spirit

  Original Airdate: December 20, 1979
Writer: Kathleen Hite
Director: Herbert Hirschman


  Jeffrey befriends a stranger who has been lurking around the community.


  "My own memories of that Christmas in 1943 are vague and clouded, but those of my family remain vivid in the extreme. For the first time ever my mother would not be home for that most special holiday. She, who'd taught all of us the meaning and spirit of Chritmas, would spend it at the hospital with me. And though they all agreed her place was there, it put the season in a strange light. How strange, how unique and unreal it would become, no one could even imagine."



Ben and Cindy notice a campfire burning up the mountain and wonder who is there. Ben asks his Daddy if he can pick up some perfume for Cindy’s Christmas present while he is in Charlottesville. He says no that he couldn’t ask the salesperson for “Nights of Love” perfume. Ike notices the smoke from his store as well. John stops for $2 worth of gas. Ike asks John if he will buy a nightgown for Corabeth while he is there. John says he can go with Ben who needs to run a similar errand besides he knows that Corabeth doesn’t want John seeing her nightgown.

Up on the mountain a man wakes up who made the campfire. He nervously puts out the embers and stops the smoke hoping that no one noticed it.

The girls bring the Christmas decorations down to the living room and begin to decorate. Rose sends Jeffrey off to write a letter to Santa Claus but he overheard Mary Ellen who remarks that she forgot he is still young enough to believe in him still.

Later that night Ben and Jim-Bob go out to investigate why Chance the cow is bellowing. They see someone hiding in the shadows of the barn but he runs off before they can chase him. He discover that he has taken a potato sack and left the potatoes behind. The man uses it to break the store window at Ike’s and take food from the display window.

The next morning while Ike is trying to clean up the mess Corabeth attempts to stuff the hole in the window with a blanket and only make the hole bigger as more glass breaks.

Rose goes out to get the laundry and gives Chance some extra grain for being a good “watch-cow”. She goes back out with the laundry basket and discovers that an item has gone missing off the line.

John and Ike discuss the situation and notice that the person only took food and didn’t take and money or other more expensive items.

At the church Corabeth holds a meeting of the ladies and sets the stage for how see sees the Christmas play unfolding. The other ladies feel that since it is the third year since the start of the war and that people will not be in the mood for pageantry. Corabeth is not pleased that the other ladies disagree with her ideas.

Jim-Bob is upset that his favorite flannel shirt isn’t in the laundry that Rose did. She feels that there is a reason why it has gone missing. 

The stranger makes his way to the Dew Drop Inn and fills his pockets with pretzels from the tables. He sneaks out when the military police arrive on their rounds. 

Jeffrey wakes up his Grandma. He is worried that he will upset his Grandma because he no longer believes in Santa. 

Jason leaves the Dew Drop for the night and finds the stranger sleeping in his car. The man runs off after being startled awake. 

He makes his was to the Baldwin house the next morning. Under the false pretence of looking for a missing dog he takes advantage of Miss Emily’s hospitality and helps himself to a sweater and breakfast. John arrives to fix her furnace but she discovers that young man has fled with all the food and her sweater when she returns to the dining room

Rose, Elizabeth and Jeffrey go to the church and Jeffrey stays outside to play. He meets the man and they play catch with his ball. Jeffrey wants a puppy and the man hopes he gets his wish. Inside Corabeth sets the new plans for the Christmas service and spells out exactly what the other ladies had already suggested as if if were her own ideas. 

Jeffrey walks home with the man. He avoids being seen by passing traffic. He is kind to Jeffrey and they talk about Santa Claus and the man tells him about Saint Nicholas. The man asks Jeffrey if he will be his secret friend. He arranges for Jeffrey to bring him food. Jeffrey wished the man would come to his house for Christmas. 

Jim-Bob, Elizabeth and Serena cut branches to make garland to decorate the church with. The man carved a whistle out of a branch for Jeffrey. Jim-Bob hears Jeffrey playing the whistle in the woods. He investigates and recognizes his missing shirt that the man is wearing. The stranger runs away and Jim-Bob grabs Jeffrey and takes him home. The Walton men discuss the situation in the mill. They believe he is the same man that has been seen by various people around the community and wonder if he is an army deserter or wanted by the law. John goes to speak to Jeffrey and learns that the man’s name is Paul. 

Jeffrey goes looking for Paul but can’t find him. Jason arrives at the mill to tell his a daddy that he has found no news of a deserter. 

The family is gathered to celebrate Christmas Eve. Jeffrey is hoping that Paul will show up. Ike makes a toast to all those who are not there to celebrate with them. Paul arrives outside and attempts to leave a small tree as a gift for Jeffrey. Jeffrey sees him and introduces him to John who invites the man inside. Paul tells Jeffrey the story about the first Christmas tree that Martin Luther decorated with candles. Paul is tired of running he admits that he has escaped from a prisoner of war camp in South Carolina. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin but is of German descent. John decides that Paul can stay the evening and Jeffrey gets a new dog who he names Nick after 'Saint Nicholas'.


  "It was a Christmas Eve long remembered in our home, an escaped prisoner-of-war brought the spirit of Christmas to Jeffrey, and to all those gathered, who longed for peace on earth, goodwill toward men."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • Jeffrey is 8
  • John-Boy was found by a German fishing boat and saved. 

Additional Cast:



Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth), Leslie Winston (Cindy), Peggy Rea (Rose Burton), Keith Mitchell (Jeffrey), Martha Nix (Serena), Mary Jackson (Miss Emily), Ned Bellamy (Paul), Debbie Richmond (Lady), Gordon Hodgins (First Man), Llynn Storer (Second Man)

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