Ep.16 - The Prodigals

  Original Airdate: January 17, 1980
Writer: Robert Pirosh
Director: Stan Latham


  Jeffrey and Josh get into trouble when they try their hand at gambling. Ben struggles with his feelings on how best to serve his country.


  "As my grandfather used to say, "everybody looks at the world through his own knothole". My brothers and sisters and I and the two cousins who came to live with us were all brought up in the same house and in pretty much the same way. But the world looked a little bit different to each of us, and there was a day, a beautiful bright sunny day, but it looked very bleak to my brother Ben, and even bleaker to my cousin Jeffrey."



Rose marches Jeffrey in to see John in the kitchen. She found him with John’s missing drill bit which is now bent after it was run over accidentally by a truck. John is upset when him because he also left the chicken coop open and played hookie from school.

Jeffrey runs into to Josh who is delivering laundry. They see some army men shooting craps beside Ike’s store. Josh knows how to play and they gamble the money they have. Josh’s mother Verdie catches them and scolds them for getting involved. She sends Josh home with the laundry but as she as she leaves they run back to the game. They win but high tail it when Ike breaks up the game and confiscates the money.

Verdie stops by the Waltons and gives Rose some cookies she baked for John-Boy who is still in the hospital.

Later that evening Verdie stops by the Walton’s looking for Josh. She asks if he is with Jeffrey but Rose says that Jeffrey is asleep upstairs. In fact he has slipped out and meets Josh at Ike’s store where they plan to recoup their winnings. They sneak in a side window and find the money in the cash register. Ike and Corabeth return back to the store after going for an evening drive. The boys escape through the window startling the Godsey’s and causing Ike to have heart pains. Corabeth sees Josh running down the road. When John and Verdie return back to the house Rose informs them that Josh is in custody at the Sheriff’s office. When they arrive, they hear the story from the witnesses that $38 dollars was stolen from the Godsey’s store but Josh denies the allegations saying instead that he was at the movies. The Sheriff plans to hold Josh in the cell but Verdie points out that if he were a Walton boy he would be released into John’s custody. The Sheriff obviously has biased opinions about Verdie and initially agrees to release Josh into John’s custody but Verdie disputes that and says she wants him in her custody. John agrees with her and the Sheriff grudgingly abides.

John drops Verdie and Josh back at their home. Verdie questions Josh again and gets wise to the thought that maybe he had an accomplish.

The next morning Jeffrey gets up early and buries the sack of money beside the woodpile. Jim-Bob shows up and begins cutting more wood for Ike.

At breakfast Jeffrey loses his interest in food when the discussion about Josh turns to what happens at reform schools.

Josh has a guilty conscience and gets up early to wash his Mama’s kitchen floor and sweep the porch. She uses love to get the truth out of him but hit is only a half truth. He admits to the Godsey’s that he took the money but dropped it when he ran away. He isn’t willing to implicate Jeffrey. As punishment he is tasked with painting $38 dollars worth of the store front but not before his Momma givers him a licking. Later as he paints Jeffrey shows up and begins to help. Josh pleads with him to give back the money but Jeffrey is afraid that he will have to move away with Serena and Rose when Uncle John finds out. Ike walks out and tells Jeffrey that this is Josh’s punishment to do alone. When he leaves Josh tells Jeffrey to get the money.

On the way home from school Josh discovers that Jim-Bob has piled more wood on the wood pile and covered where Jeffrey hid the sack of money. Serena innocently asks him to help her with her bible verse memory and feels guilty when she tells him about the story of Jonah. Later he pack a bag and leaves a note on his bed and runs away. Rose finds it and goes to John who isn’t worried. He says that runaways always come home when they get hungry.

Rose and John drive around looking for Jeffrey they stop at the store and question Josh who is still covering for him. Verdie runs in to Jeffrey on the road while she is making Josh’s laundry deliveries. She sees that he is running away. He admits to her that he was the other person involved with Josh stealing the money at Ike’s store. Back at home Jeffrey levels with Uncle John and Rose. He shows them where the money is under the woodpile. John figures that a good punishment for Jeffrey is to deliver Ike’s order of firewood which will then give him access to the buried money.

Josh finds Jeffrey pulling a wagon of wood to Ike’s. He has finished the pain ting but Jeffrey thinks he will never be done moving and stacking the fire wood. Josh says that Ike has offered him a job for $0.25/hr. He says that he will split it with Jeffrey if he helps and they decide that they donate the extra penny to the free chicken meal that Ike’s runs at the canteen.

Secondary Story:


Ben looks defeated before he drives the truck in to town. He grabs a bite of lunch with Jason. They run into a couple of soldiers who have smart words for Ben who's still a civilian and hasn’t been recruited into the army yet. Jason tells Ben that his job at the mill is essential plus he has a wife and a young baby at home. Ben is not convinced however.

Ben arrives back late from lunch in a mood and throws his frustration at his father. He feels that he was given special consideration to not be drafted because of his last name.

Cindy and Ben have lost their interest in breakfast. Cindy is upset with Ben’s idea to enlist and tries to convince him that his role at home is important for the war effort just like his sisters who have jobs instead of joining the WAC. (Women’s Army Corps).

Ben goes to see John-Boy at the hospital where he is still recuperating. He talks to John-Boy about his feelings of guilt but John-Boy says that every soldier feels guilty for not sacrificing more than the next man until they pay the ultimate price. Only the dead don’t feel guilty. John-Boy says that he has special skills and to not do something where he isn’t as important as his is now.

Ben arrives back home and tells Cindy and his Daddy that he has enlisted in the Seabees (Naval Construction Force) and will do the same kind of work overseas that he is doing at home. John was hoping that the war would be over before it came to this. He says he understands and will take care of Cindy and the baby.

Ben and Cindy are on a date in Rockfish and Ben is wearing his new navel uniform. He feels much better about his role and says that it will be another 3 weeks before he has a weekend pass to see her again.


  "Ben and Cindy were closer than they had ever been before. Though their future was uncertain because Ben was going off to war, this would always be a weekend to remember."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • Harley has taken a defence job in Detroit.
  • Olivia is still working for the Red Cross and watching over John-Boy

Additional Cast:



Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth), Leslie Winston (Cindy), Peggy Rea (Rose Burton), Keith Mitchell (Jeffrey), Martha Nix (Serena), Lynn Hamilton (Verdie Foster), James Bond III (Josh), Macon McCalman (Deputy Sheriff), Chris Malkey (the Roller), Robert Wightman (John-Boy), Ron Thompson (G.I.), Christopher Metas (The Private)

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