Ep.2 - The Pledge

  Original Airdate: December 4, 1980
Writer: Kathleen Hite
Director: Lawrence Dobkin


  Mary Ellen decides to become Doctor after a patient of hers dies who won't seek medical attentiion. Jason turns 24 while still overseas and celebrates with John-Boy in France.


  "In those last months of the war, though death and destruction continued, it was possible for the first time to think of a world at peace. There would then be the small personal wars to be reckoned with, such as my sister Mary Ellen's adversary role with life, always heading into it, never conforming to its patterns. She was wife, mother, widow, nurse, and not any or all of these things together brought her peace of mind. Something within her still fought, still searched. And for those of us overseas, even though the war was winding down, it was far from over."



Mary Ellen writes a letter to John-Boy who is observing an operation to take control of a bridge in France being protected by Germans. After the allies take the bridge a jeep with orders for John-Boy to return to Paris for a new assignment. He also receives Mary Ellen’s letter which he reads. She tells him how she had plans with Curt to change the world but now that he is gone she plans to make the world a better place for John-Curtis. She says that she still gets up into the hills to help the remote families.

Mary Ellen arrives at Grandma Floyd’s place and talks to Sweet Billy who is having trouble with some longer words in a new book that he has been reading. She asks him to read some of it to her. Mary Ellen feels that Sweet Billy is acting out of character. She then goes to his sister Ronie Cotter’s house to talk about her concerns with Sweet Billy.

Erin, Elizabeth and Rose talk about the boys who they expect will be coming home from the war soon. Jason will be turning 24 and Rose figures that he is right where he wants to be for his birthday watching the showgirls dancing the Can-Can in Paris.

At the store the Baldwin sisters are waiting for a letter to arrive from the Bank in Charlottesville. Elizabeth shows up with letters to mail to her brothers who are serving overseas. Corabeth gets a letter and financial compensation from a concerned mother of a soldier stationed at Camp Rockfish asking is she will bake him a chocolate cake for his birthday. The soldier has mentioned Corabeth as the nice “older” lady ad the store. Which does not amuse Corabeth but certainly amuses Ike.

Mary Ellen returns to see Sweet Billy who has collapsed on his porch. She revives him but he has a racing pulse. He is more concerned about fixing his porch than agreeing to get help. Mary Ellen returns home and her Daddy helps to console her feelings. Sweet Billy arrives on his mule and collapses to the ground as the mule comes to a rest. John and Mary Ellen race him to the hospital.

Ronie Cotter comes to the Waltons looking for Sweet Billy. Rose tells her that he had to be taken to the hospital. She asks if it is far and Rose says that it is in Charlottesville. Elizabeth comes out with John-Curtis. Mary Ellen and John return from the hospital and Ronie knows that Billy is gone. She asks if Mary Ellen will see to bringing his body back to be with her babies.

The Baldwin sisters have received the cheque they were expecting and decide to celebrate with their Papa’s vintage 1925 “Recipe”. Instead of proposing a toast to the Charlottesville Bank for their interest cheque they propose a toast to their Papa who put his money in the bank for them. They discuss the good news that Hitler and Mussolini have gotten their just desserts as well as Jason’s birthday. They decide to send some of their Papa’s vintage 1925 recipe to him for his birthday.

Elizabeth makes a birthday cake for Jason which Erin and Cindy want to test but Drew comes in to the kitchen and grabs a piece for himself. Elizabeth says that he better now what a measuring cup looks like because he will now be making a new one.

Ronie holds a funeral for Sweet Billy. She asks Mary Ellen to read from the book she gave him.

A soldier comes in to the store looking for the “older’ lady that works there. Ike goes back to convince Corabeth to greet him. She doesn’t want to come out until she overhears him say that she is worldly and knows so much. Corabeth comes out and says that she has not grown older but has become sophisticated and ripened with maturity and perfects with time.

Daddy helps to convince Erin to ask Lieutenant Whipple at Camp Rockfish who is sweet on her to help send Elizabeth’s birthday cake to Jason in France. Mary Ellen comes downstairs with John-Curtis. She says that she has decided to study to become a doctor.

The next morning the Baldwin sisters try to mail their parcel of the “recipe” to Jason. Ike knows what is inside the package and says that he can’t send it through the United States Postal Service. Erin and Mary Ellen arrive and Erin agrees to send it via the soldier at Camp Rockfish.

Mary Ellen discusses her plans to go to school with he doctor friend Bill Holliston. He says that she will have to go through 4 years of Pre-Med before she even begins medical school and that it will be tougher that she expects being a woman.

John-Boy celebrates Jason birthday with a bottle of French champagne. Jason’s Gingerbread cake as well as the Baldwin “recipe” has arrived as well.

Mary Ellen goes to see the Dean of admissions at Boatwright University who will now allow her to study to become a Doctor and that those paces are reserved for the men who will be returning from war.

The soldier stationed at Camp Rockfish comes in to the store and sees the cake that Corabeth made on behalf of his mother. He confesses that the perfume he asked Corabeth to pick out for him was for his mother and not a girlfriend,

Mary Ellen goes to see Ronie who is applying sod to Sweet Billy’s grave and tells her that she was denied admission to study to be a Doctor. Ronie tells her that she shouldn’t quit.

Mary Ellen returns to Boatwright with her son John Curtis to see Dean Clifford. She says that if he continues to deny her enrolment then she will keep coming back with the people who depend of her to provide them with medical attention until he says yes. He agrees to sign her admission but says that they will never accept a woman into medical school. She is not deterred.


  "In many ways everyone was right. The road ahead for Mary Ellen was hard and discouraging, in all ways tough and challenging. Just right for Mary Ellen who knew how to bounce off walls, fall on her face, and survive to fight another day. It was her private war, and in time even our father came to agree she'd win."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • Jason Walton is turning 24.
  • Janette Lane Bradbury previously played the role of “Ronie Cotter” and Les Lannom performed as “Sweet Billy” in Season 8.
  • Bucklind Beery who played the role of “Doctor Bill Holliston” is the son of Noah Beery Jr. who played “Charlie Harmon” in “The Heritage” (s2-ep17)
  • This season was delayed due to a Actor's strike in Hollywood.
  • Will (Grampa Walton) Geer's daughter Ellen returns for another guest appearance as the character Ronie Cotter. She previously appeared in Season 1 as the character Eva Mann in "The Ceremony" (s1-ep9).

Additional Cast:



Guest Stars: Ellen Geer (Ronie Cotter), Richard Lineback (Sweet Billy), with: Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth), Leslie Winston (Cindy), Peggy Rea (Rose), Michael and Marshall Reed (John Curtis), Claire and Elizabeth Schoene (Virginia), Robert Wightman (John-Boy), Tony Becker (Drew), Helen Kleeb (Miss Mamie), Mary Jackson (Miss Emily),Bucklind Beery (Dr. Holliston), Dennis Robertson (Dean Clifford), Dick Christie (Sgt. Carey), Chip Frye (Charley), Laurence Lau (G.I.), Robert Telford (man at grave)

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