Ep.5 - The Boondoggle

  Original Airdate: October 9, 1975
Writers: Rod Peterson & Claire Whittaker
Director: Ralph Waite



A notorious reporter arrives on Walton's Mountain to write a Guidebook for the tate of Virginia. He make a discovery about the Baldwin Sister's father that could have a devastating affect on their honor and reputation in the community. Jim-Bob tries his luck at selling fish to customers.



"Of all the people who visited Walton's Mountain during my growing to manhood years, I remember one especially. He was a man who brought new ideas to an old way of life. For a brief time his presence stirred the Walton household, and threatened the time-honored traditions of our quiet community."



John-Boy is enlisted by Professor Parks to escort Porter Sims, a reporter who is writing a Guidebook for the State of Virginia. He is well known for covering the Scopes trial which had been the most famous trial in American History. He is now employed under Roosevelt’s WPA work program. Grandma feels that the WPA is a program for people who don't want to work. She calls it a Boondoggle. The children catch onto the phrase and make fun of the term. When they discuss some of the sites that he should see John-Boy suggests a visit to the Baldwin sisters’. Grandpa tries to deter those plans as he feels that Porter Sims shouldn't be poking into the Baldwin affairs. Porter Sims is of course won over by the sisters’ recipe and accepts their offer to stay with them instead of Mrs. Brimmer’s boarding house.

The sisters let Mr. Sims go through their papa’s private letters and important papers. He discovers that during the war between the States that the Baldwin’s father allowed Union soldiers to stay in the Baldwin home and was then accused of treason. The news comes as a shock to the sisters and Miss Mamie who had become a bit fond of Mr. Sims takes it especially hard and locks herself away in her bedroom. John-Boy then learns that Grandpa knew about the charges all along and had tried to prevent its discovery. He confirms that the war ended before a trial could take place.

Later John-Boy confronts Mr. Sims and asks for him to leave the Baldwin home. He then questions how John-Boy would handle the situation as a writer. He challenges John-Boy’s desire to protect the honor of the Baldwins versus the honesty and truth in reporting facts and history with accuracy. Porter tells him that a Boondoggle is actually an old pioneer term for anything made up from leftover scraps.

Porter Sims leaves the Baldwin home but leaves behind the words he plans to publish about Judge Baldwin’s tale. John-Boy reads his words to the Miss Emily and Miss Mamie. Porter Sims discovered that Captain Matthew Baldwin had been injured and was recuperating in his home. He then brought both Northern and Southern soldiers also injured to his home to recuperate after the Battle of Rockfish Creek. Although he had been wrongfully charged with treason for harboring the enemy it is clear that he would be exonerated for his humanitarian efforts. The sisters honor is returned and their spirits are lifted.

Secondary Story:


Jim-Bob tries his luck at selling fish to his neighbors. At first he is disappointed by the lack of sales but then later receives a number of orders from his neighbors. He enlists Elizabeth's help in helping to catch and hold the fish in a small section he has sectioned off in Drucilla's Pond but Elizabeth lets them go when she discovers that the fish have families as well.


  "Their family honor restored, the Baldwin ladies returned to their happy yesterday world, cherishing the memory of another gallant gentleman caller. The guide books for all the States have become valued historical references, and when Walton's Mountain was mentioned in the volume for Virginia, Grandma never again referred to it as a boondoggle."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • Grandma believes a "boondoggle" is to do work of little or no practical value merely to keep or look busy.
  • Porter Sims later says that a "boondoggle" is an old pioneering term for anything made up from left-over scraps
  • This episode was directed by Ralph Waite.
  • We first hear about the WPA program in the previous episode when Professor Porter informs John-Boy that 10,000 unemployed writers are supported by the program.
  • The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was the largest and most ambitious American New Deal agency, employing millions of unemployed people to carry out public works projects like the construction of public structures and roads.
  • John-Boy is a stringer for the Jefferson County Times.
  • We see Mamie Baldwin’s bedroom for the first time.
  • The Scopes Trial was better known as the Monkey trial which charged a teacher for teaching Charles Darwin’s theories that humans were descended from apes. Inherit the Wind is a well known fictional play and movie that loosely follows the trail.
  • Mary Ellen makes reference to having a sit down strike. This is a nod to the episode "The Honeymoon" (s2-ep16)
  • Abel Bingly, the ice man stops by the house to deliver some ice for their ice box.

Additional Cast:

  Guest Star: Richard McKenzie(Porter Sims) with: Helen Kleeb (Miss Mamie), Mary Jackson (Miss Emily), Nora Marlowe (Mrs. Brimmer), David Clarke (Abel Bingly), Kevin Lee (Buck), Derek Triplett (Benny)


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