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Ep.18 - The Inspiration

 
  Original Airdate: January 31, 1980
Writer: E.F.Wallengren
Director: Ralph Waite

Description:

  Mamie Baldwin struggles with the decision to have surgery for her failing eyesight. Elizabeth desires to go to the Spring dance with one boy but maybe another relationship is waiting for her.

Prologue:

  "On Walton's Mountain we treasured our neighbors, everyone knew everyone else and we shared together in the joys and the sorrows of the people around us. We were all deeply alarmed when we learned that Miss Mamie Baldwin had developed an infection, one that might forever confine her within her home."

Synopsis:

 

Miss Emily is excited that the school teacher requested to use the Baldwin house for the location of their Spring dance. Miss Mamie is dismayed when she learns that Emily said that they could use the dining room. They are expecting John to come taste the latest batch of the recipe but when Jason arrives in his place Miss Mamie doesn’t recognize him and assumes it is his father whom she was expecting. She previously spilled some of the recipe when she was pouring it into a decanter. She asks how the war effort is and he reports some progress in Italy. She recommends that he visit Florence if he makes it to Italy. She states that it is the artistic centre of the World. Their Papa took them when they were very young and they saw the Statue of David. They taste the recipe and it is not what they expect. Miss Emily suggests that maybe Miss Mamie read the recipe wrong when she made it. Disturbed by this comment Miss Mamie excuses herself to the garden.

Miss Emily drives over to talk to John. She is concerned about her sister who no longer smiles and won’t go bird watching with her anymore. She says that her sister has stopped doing all of the activities she once enjoyed and that she has even heard he weep at night in her bedroom but she insists everything is fine. Miss Emily asks John if he will talk to Miss Mamie in the hopes that she will confide in him. He is more than happy to help.

Miss Mamie admits to John that she is going blind. He takes her to the eye doctor who informs them that Mamie has cataracts, a clouding in the eye that is like looking through a foggy window. He says that surgery is available but it is an extremely delicate procedure. Miss Mamie admits to being terrified. Miss Emily says that their Papa died on the operating table. The doctor says that it is not a life threatening operation. He schedules a date but allows her time to consider her decision.

Miss Emily finds her sister looking at the painting of their father over the mantel. Mamie says that she doesn’t know how much longer she has left to be able to see his face.

John and Mary Ellen arrive at the Baldwin’s to take Mamie to the hospital for surgery. miss Emily informs them that her sister has changed her mind and doesn’t want to proceed. She is not willing to have surgery and risk her promise to her father to be there for her sister. Their father went in for a simple procedure to remove a lesion and was dead 4 hours later. She says she won’t do the procedure even if the cost is her life.

John arrives home with Grandma. She is excited to see all of her grandchildren and especially Ben and Jason who are looking smart in their uniforms. Cindy introduces her to her first great-grandchild but grandma’s mood quickly sour’s when she sets her eyes on cousin Rose and her grandchildren Jeffrey and Serena. Rose chooses to be oblivious to Esther’s disapproval. John encourages Esther to prepare for dinner instead of stewing about the new woman in the house.

Esther settles in to her old room that Rose had been occupying. John comes in and says that she will always have a place in their home.

John takes Esther to see Miss Mamie who’s condition has deteriorated to the point where she can’t see them.

As the Baldwin’s prepare for the dance Esther explains to Mamie that she has no hope of using her right arm again since her stroke but Mamie does have hope for her eyesight if she would consider the operation. The sisters heed her words.

The next day at the Baldwin’s Esther tricks Miss Emily with a game of Blind Man’s Bluff to reveal how scared her sister must be having lost her vision. They hear that Mamie has broken a porcelain figurine that John Quincy Adams gave their father while dusting in the next room. She goes out to the garden to collect herself. Miss Emily and Esther follow her. Esther says that there is no hope to regain use of her paralyzed arm after her stroke but Miss Mamie has hope thanks to the surgery if she agrees. Miss Mamie questions Emily if she should break their oath to never have surgery but Miss Emily feels that their greater promise was to take care of each other. She feels that she wouldn’t be keeping that promise if she stood by and let her sister go blind when there is help available for her. Miss Mamie finally agrees to the surgery.


Secondary Story:

 
 

Elizabeth arrives late to the dinner table. Jim-Bob kids her that everyone knows that she wants Steve Prince to ask her to the dance. The next day at the store she asks Corabeth if she can help her with answers about boys. Mrs. Godsey says that most of her experience ended in heartache. She feels that Elizabeth is too pretty to worry about boys that they should worry about her. As she is about to leave she quickly changes her mind and looks at some material just as 2 male school mates come in. She bumps into Steve as they pass. The boys are looking for fishing line to catch a large notorious catfish. Miss Godsey goes to help Elizabeth in the fabric section but she loses interest as soon as the boys leave and follows after them.

Elizabeth makes a 4 part plan to win Steve’s attention. Erin walks in to their bedroom and sees the charts her younger sister has made. She wants to know if the plan works she might be willing to try it herself.

After school Elizabeth asks Steve if he can help her with a math problem. He makes excuses and then leaves on his bike with Drew. At home she crosses out Plan 1 and moved on to Plan 2.

Elizabeth goes fishing with Jim-Bob knowing full well that Steve will show up looking to catch his catfish. She tries to impress him that she can fish just like boys. As she tries to move away from Jim-Bob she inadvertently catches the infamous catfish which upsets Steve causing him to storm off. Jim-Bob however is excited to take it home for dinner but Elizabeth dumps the fish back in the pond when Plan 2 fails.

Jim-Bob, Erin and Elizabeth arrive at the store but Elizabeth waits outside to talk to Steve who is riding his bike in circles out front. She brings up the topic of the dance but quickly learns that Steve is taking their pretty blond schoolmate Nora to the dance.

Ben finds Elizabeth in her bedroom after taking down to chart to win Steve’s heart. He consoles her saying that they have all gone through their share of heartbreak trying to find love. He tells her that her friend Drew is downstairs waiting to talk to her. She hesitates at the door when she sees him pacing outside near his bicycle. He asks if she would consider going with him to the dance that night despite the short notice. She asks what happened to his date and is bothered that she is his second choice. He replies that he would be her second choice as well but it would be better than staying at home. She agrees but her heart isn’t in it.

At the dance Steve can’t catch the rhythm with Nora but Elizabeth and Drew seem to have hit it off and are enjoying themselves. Cora Beth is beside herself that she can’t control the two and becomes very agitated when they go out on the veranda by themselves unsupervised. Grandma prevents Corabeth from interfering. Outside they talk and dance some more. Drew walks Elizabeth home and then asks if she would like to go to a movie. She agrees and as she turns to go inside he gives her an awkward kiss. Both of them are thrilled by the experience.

Epilogue:

 
  "After Miss Mamie consented to the operation, my grandmother returned to Buckingham County to take care of her sister Angie. When Miss Mamie's eyesight was restored she later said that she had stood at her father's portrait and had seen a look of approval that she had never known to be there."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

 
 
  • Actor Tony Becker makes his first appearance as Drew Cutler, Elizabeth's boyfriend.
  • Ralph Waite directed this episode.
  • This episode marks the return of Grandma since the last episode of Season 7 "Founder's Day" (s7-ep23)

Additional Cast:

 
 

 


Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth), Leslie Winston (Cindy), Peggy Rea (Rose Burton), Keith Mitchell (Jeffrey), Martha Nix (Serena), Helen Kleeb (Miss Mamie), Mary Jackson (Miss Emily), Michael and Marshall Reed (John Curtis), Philip Linton (Steve Prince), Tony Becker (Drew Cutler), Becky Perle (Norma), Arthur Hanson (Dr. Canfield) Special guest: Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton)

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