Ep.11 - The Literary Man

  Original Airdate: November 30, 1972
Writer: Colley Kibber
Director: Philip Leacock


  "Growing up on Walton's Mountain in those depression years when times were lean and money was scarce I learned early that hard work was a central fact of life and a key to survival. I wasn't afraid of work, but above everything else I wanted to be a writer. Gripping a book, reading and re-reading the wonderfully colored sentences, this was as close as I could get to another writer, until one afternoon I met someone who showed me the way I must take to be a literary man."



John-Boy has his head in the pages of Moby Dick. His father asks him to drive the load of railroad ties to Rockfish. The truck breaks down on the way to town but a man by the name of A.J. Covington gives John-Boy a hand fixing the truck. John-Boy discovers their kinship for the written word. After they unload the order of railroad ties he invites A.J. Back to meet his family. John-Boy is gushing at his luck of having a writer in his home. A.J. Agrees to help the family with their lumber order over the next few days in exchange for room and board.


The next morning John-Boy and A.J. take the mule wagon up the mountain to cut trees for the mill. When they stop for lunch John-Boy asks if A.J. If he will take a look at his writing. He feels that John-Boy has the makings of a good writer but explains to him that adjectives are a lot like red pepper, a little goes a long way. A.J. gives him a hand editing his journal and cuts the story down to half it's length. Despite appreciating the help John-Boy realizes that they haven't accomplished much work in cutting timber for his Daddy's saw mill. They arrive home late and realize that they have let down his family who were waiting for them. John tells him that reading and writing is a fine thing but that he had a job to do for his family and that when he doesn't do his best at a job he has agreed to do, he is not only failing those around him but he is failing himself if he doesn't do the best he can do. John-Boy has doubts about pursuing his dreams of writing. Despite his best efforts the following day they are not able to complete the lumber order. This will mean for a tough winter for the family. A.J. has sold his valuable timepiece in hopes of buying a small farmhouse to settle down.

Wandering and searching as an excuse to keep from writing but he realizes than he has nothing to show after 45 years of living but a few tall tales and some second memories from working stories from writers he had known. He tells John-Boy to write the small stories about Walton's Mountain his family and friends and they may some day add up to be his big story.

Secondary Story:


Jim-Bob is not feeling well. It's escalates to the point where he needs medical attention. A.J. believes that Jim-Bob has acute appendicitis and needs to see a surgeon. Thanks to his opinion Jim-Bob gets appendix removed but the operation has cost $22.

As Jim-Bob makes his recovery back at home, John Boy finds a note from A.J. stating that he has moved on down the road but he has left $22 for the family to help with their costs.


  "We never saw nor heard from A.J.Covington again. He wandered into our lives, touched them and wandered away. Often when I face the silent challenge of a blank piece of paper I remember the literary man and the advice he gave me. I struggled to keep faith with him and set down the small things, the seemingly trivial things which perhaps taken all together will eventually give at least some suggestion of the love and sacrifice and joy, that sustained one family who lived out the Depression at the foot of Waltons Mountain."

Episode Notes and Interesting Facts:

  • Despite the words spoken during the Epilogue, A.J. Covington does appear again in "The Abdication" (s4-ep11) this time played by George Dzundza.
  • The Editors Gene Fowler Jr. & Marjorie Fowler won the Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Film Editing for a Single Episode of a Dramatic Series.

Additional Cast:


Guest Stars: David Huddlestone (A.J. Covington) with: John Crawford (Sheriff Bridges), Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Victor Izay (Dr. Vance)

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