Ep.18 - The Caretakers

  Original Airdate: January 23, 1975
Writer: Richard Carr
Director: Ivan Dixon


  "When I was growing up in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia we never heard the words "generation gap", yet, such a separation developed shortly after my grandfather recovered from an illness, and for a while it was to threaten the unity of the entire family."



Grandpa stops for a rest while working in the mill but doesn't take too kindly to his son John’s concern for his health after suffering a recent minor heart-attack. At the same time Esther can't seem to keep pace with the rate of change around her. She doesn't approve of Olivia’s bread making recipe from a book, or the make-up that Mary-Ellen has won and plans to “paint her face” with or how the other children storm the kitchen for after school snacks and energetic high-Jinks. Zeb makes his way to Ike’s to play some pool but Corabeth has plans to turn the pool room into an emporium and had the table covered in bolts of material. Zebulon tells Ike that he warned him about rushing into marriage.  Ike says that he takes the “bitter with the better”.  Zeb then runs into Henry Townsend and spends some time visiting with him at his home. Henry has plans to take a sales job in Charlottesville and is looking for a caretaker to look after his home.


Later, back at his home Zeb continues to feel insignificant. The children won't include him in a game of baseball, John-Boy is too busy working on an essay about Tennyson’s poems and despite the fact that John has a large order of posts to fill Grandpa is incensed when his son suggest that they hire extra help to help with the order. Zeb storms off and finds Esther in their room who is just as hot-headed for feeling like a 5th wheel. Zeb decides that they need to find their own place to live with “dignity and independence”. He packs their bags and they march off to Henry’s place.  

The family is bothered by this change of events. Over at Henry’s, Zeb and Esther are feeling displaced by the quiet, empty house.  John-Boy goes to see His Grandpa and apologizes for being so insensitive. They make their way down to Ike’s but Grandpa gets his feathers ruffled again when he sees a “Help Wanted” sign posted by John looking for help at the mill. Easy Jackson applies for the job but causes nothing but mishaps with his lack of experience.  Olivia runs into to Esther at the store and she expresses that they are ready to come home but Zeb is too proud to make the first move.  John has enough when Easy bends the saw blade. Olivia and Elizabeth convince him to see Grandpa and make amends. Stubborn as they are John convinces Zeb that he needs him at the mill and the family needs him and Grandma at home. Esther has already packed their bags by the time Zeb agrees to return. They arrive home to find that Easy has caused even more mishap at the mill. Zeb cunningly convinces Easy to take over his job as caretaker at Henry’s place which returns everything back to order on Walton’s mountain.


  "It was good to have our grandparents home again, without them the family had been incomplete and our lives disjointed. But they were home, and our lives were back to normal."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • This is Easy Jackson's first appearance.
  • Henry pays $5 per week for the care of his home.
  • This episode makes use of some creative editing to convey the affects on the two separated families.

Additional Cast:


Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Ronnie Clare Edwards (Corabeth Godsey), Britt Leach (Easy Jackson), Nora Marlowe (Mrs. Brimmer), Dan Priest (Henry Townsend)

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