Ep.23 - The Valediction

  Original Airdate: March 13, 1980
Writer: Claire Whittaker
Director: Harry Harris


  Jim-Bob is about to graduate from high school and Corabeth becomes the new substitute teacher for the rest of the school year.


  "Sometimes it seemed as if we'd always been at war, the quiet of our lives on Waltons Mountain was interrupted daily by headlines and bulletins that took us to far off deserts and island outposts with impossible names. Our days swung between hope and despair, but somehow we went forward, meeting the demands of life in a troubled world, proving at home what the war was proving on every front, that a crisis can make leaders of the most ordinary of men."



Jim-Bob comes down to breakfast with a button down shirt, bow-tie & jacket and jeans. He says he only has to look good from the waist up for his graduation photo. He’s upset that no one will be there for his graduation. Mama’s gone John-Boy has returned to the army, Ben is away at the Seabee’s training camp. There have been 4 teachers already this school year and Jim-Bob hardly bows anyone from his graduation class. Most people have moved away. Daddy wonders who the new teacher will be and Jeffrey replies “probably someone horrible”.

Corabeth prepares for her first day as the new school teacher. Ike thinks she is taking it too seriously after all she was only hired because the school board couldn’t find any one else. They bicker with Corabeth staying that married couples should never work together and it’s a wonder that their marriage has survived this far.

Corabeth first disciplinary action is the prevent a senior from chewing his gum. She then turns her attention to plan the graduation but the students say it hardly seems worth it with only 6 graduates. The gum chewer says he will be partying as soon as he graduates and jumps up and begins to dance with a girl. As Corabeth begins to lose control of the class room the photographer arrives and she dismisses the graduating class to prepare for their school pictures.

John-Boy returns for another 10 day furlough he finds his Daddy in the mill office doing paperwork. He tells his father that he has asked to be reassigned overseas again.

Jeffrey stays after class to write 40 lines about he poor behaviour in class. Corabeth is surprised to learn that Jim-Bob’s grades have improved so much over the past 2 years that if he scores the best best marks in the upcoming science test then he be class valedictorian. Jim-Bob has no interest in writing a speech though.

At home love is in the air. Elizabeth is on the phone with her beau Drew and Erin is writing to Ashley Longworth. John-Boy says that Rome is about to fall to the Nazis and soon they will have the whole continent. Jim-Bob comes in from the Mill where he has been deciding what color to paint his car. The family learns that he might be Valedictorian but he says he plans to fail the science exam so that he won’t have the responsibility.

The next day Rose measures Jim-Bob’s jacket for a better fit for his graduation. Elizabeth comes down with the trash from the upstairs and gives him attitude. He follows her outside and learns that she is upset with his plans to fail the science exam. In her mind he is cheating himself and the whole class when he knows the answers and is willing to be down the wrong to purposely fail. She is ashamed of him.

Rose shops at Ike’s store for a graduation present for Jim-Bob. Ike has a pair of gold cuff links he is willing to sell for $5. She offers a $1 down and a dollar a week for them.

When Erin and Mary Ellen return home later that evening they come with news that the allies have taken Rome. Rose gives Erin a letter that arrived from Ashley. She learns that Ashley has married a girl named Margaret whom he met on weekend leave in London. He feels badly for Erin whom he once loved but was so far away due to the war.

The next morning the family worries about Erin but she does come down at breakfast as she trying to cope and has to do a presentation at work. Ike calls and tells them to listen tot he radio. The D-Day invasion is taking place. The allied forces have landed in France.

On the way home from school Drew and Elizabeth plan to got to the prom together in 3 years when they graduate...if they still like each other. Drew then says that he would like to join the tank corps. Elizabeth is abhorred.l that she has 3 brothers in service and Mary Ellen husband was killed in Pearl Harbor and he wants the war to continue. She says he is selfish and stupid for thinking that will prove him as a man.

At home Jim-Bob prepares to paint his car. Elizabeth walks past him and he asks her what color she thinks he should paint it. She snaps back Yellow just like him. Jason comes home and they talk about his plans to flunk the exam. Jim-Bob says that he is not a natural leader. Jason gives him some advise he learned from Grandpa.

That evening the family gathers around the radio to listen to President Roosevelt’s message. The men decide to go outside and cut extra wood to help with the war effort.

The next day Jim-Bob fails to be on time for his Science exam. Corabeth quizzes Elizabeth and she reports that he has locked himself in his bedroom. But then after the test has begun Jim-Bob arrives obviously having had second thoughts and begins the exam. Elizabeth is surprised to see him.

John-Boy visits Erin for lunch at the Pickett plant. Erin is putting up a strong front but he tells her about the time at the hospital when the big, strong orderly that helped John-Boy to recuperate was crying. John-Boy asked him why and the orderly replied that he was crying for him because he wouldn’t cry for himself. Erin heard his words and falls into his brothers arms.

At school Corabeth announces that James Robert at scored 100% on the Science exam and will be class valedictorian for 1944. Corabeth the outlines her plans for the graduation ceremony. Jim-Bob says that he won’t follow her plans and then asks him fellow students to stay after school to make their own plans.

Ben comes home in time for Jim-Bob’s graduation but Cindy can tell that Ben is going to be shipped overseas. She begins to cry for all the things he will miss as Virginia continues to grow. He has bought a camera for her take pictures and memories with but first he takes a picture of Cindy for himself.

Everyone is waiting for Jim-Bob to come home. He and the graduation class have been away all day in Rockfish. He finally arrives home and goes upstairs to get ready for his graduation ceremony. Rose comes in and gives him her present. He opens to up to find the cuff links she got for him.

Corabeth is beside herself that her plans for the graduation went awry and that she feels the class didn’t appreciate her efforts. Roland Piper comes in and tells her that she was the best substitute they had and the class has bought her a boutineer in appreciation.

Just as the ceremony starts John arrives with Grandma. Corabeth introduces James Robert Walton as the class valedictorian. Jim-Bob rises and says that if times were different they would be making plans for college or work but in the past week young people not much older than them found themselves in the middle of a war that is not over yet on the beaches of Normandy. He announces he and the 3 other graduating boys went to Rockfish and enlisted. He says it’s there gift to the community and that they will need the community support now and for when they return.

Jim-Bob comes down from his room packed and ready to head off to training. He gives various members of the family items of his to hold on to until he returns. He says there is a very good chance he will get in with the air corps. Grandma puts his graduation photo up on the mantel beside the other Walton boys who are all in service. John-Boy pulls up in Jim-Bob’s freshly painter lemon yellow car just like Elizabeth had requested. Jason tells his Daddy that he has put in a request for overseas. The family all give hugs to each other as the young men head off to the bus station and the war ahead.


  "My brothers and I knew as we walked away that morning that things would never again be the same. The war would teach us how small Walton's Mountain was, and how ordinary our lives there. And yet, from the foxholes of France, and the skies over Germany, on the reefs and stolls of the South Pacific, wherever the war was to take us, we returned to the mountain in memory, over and over again; that wooded earth, that frame house, that weathered porch where our loved ones waited - home."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • Actor Eric Stoltz appears as Senior Boy #1 in this episode.

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), Robert Wightman (John-Boy), Tony Becker (Drew), Gary Imhoff (Roland Piper), Eric Stoltz (Senior Boy #1), Susan McClung (Senior Girl 1), Richard Lasting (Senior Boy 2), Marte Post (Senior Girl 2) Special guest: Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton)


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