Ep.19 - The Ordeal

  Original Airdate: February 16, 1978 - 2 Hour Episode
Writer: Paul West
Director: Lawrence Dobkin


  Elizabeth falls from a log pile and breaks both of her legs.

Intro scene:


Jim-Bob attempts to run away from home but hides when he sees Ben, Aimee and Elizabeth being pulled by a pony in the pony cart. Grandpa watches them pass and a look of sadness crosses his face when he looks at Elizabeth's legs bound in struts and crutches by her side. He sees Jim-Bob hiding in the trees with his suitcase and calls to him. Jim-Bob admits that he is running away and says that Elizabeth will never walk again and it's all his fault.


  "Scarcely a year or a season passed on Walton's Mountain that did not bring a test of my parents' courage and the strength of our family ties. In the spring of 1940 the test came as always without warning, and from a direction none of us expected."



John secures a pile of logs near the old mill. Sheriff Bridges arrives with an old sewing box that he hopes John can fix up. John asks Ben and Jim-Bob to finish securing the logs while he takes the Sheriff and the cabinet to the new mill. The boys horse around and chase each other for a swim at Drucilla’s Pond instead of following their Daddy’s orders.

Elizabeth and Aimee walk home from school. They talk about boys and Aimee admits that she likes Jim-Bob. Elizabeth says that she is waisting her time. They find a baby bird that has fallen out it’s nest above the stacked log pile that still hadn’t been secured. The family runs to Elizabeth’s aid after they hear Aimee’s cries for help. The lift her carefully into the Sheriff’s car and take her to the Scottsville Memorial Hospital. When Jim-Bob and Ben get back from swimming they discover the pile of fallen logs and wonder what happened. Jason and Grandpa inform them and offer to drive them to the hospital.

Ada Corley, a mountain woman, sells her herbs and remedies to Corabeth at the store. She is a rough and abrupt woman who is quite skeptical of modern practices and prefers to concoct her own remedies and cures the old fashioned way. Aimee comes in and tells her parents about Elizabeth. Ada brags that she had a girl with a broken ankle walking the very next day. The Baldwin sisters arrive just as Ada leaves in a sour mood. The Godsey’s inform the ladies of the situation. They leave to help Erin who is home alone watching John Curtis.

Ben apologizes for Mary Ellen comes out and tells the family that Elizabeth has multiple fractures throughout both her legs. She blames Ben and Jim-Bob for not properly securing the logs like their father asked. Jim-Bob walks off feeling the pressure of the situation. The doctor comes out and tells the family that it is too early to tell how well Elizabeth will recover. John and Olivia wait for Elizabeth to wake and the rest of the family returns home.

At the Walton house Miss Emily shakes the baby rattle until John Curtis falls asleep and Miss Mamie tries her best to fold baby diapers for Erin who is busy trying to make a meal.

Back at the hospital Elizabeth begins to stir and her parents walk in to see her legs suspended in full leg casts. Sheriff Bridges drives them home late that night. They let the rest of the family know her condition. Jim-Bob packs his suitcase in an attempt to run away but Jason stops him from making matters worse. The next morning Olivia comes down with a suitcase with plans to stay with Elizabeth at the hospital. She puts Erin in charge of the house and asks the rest of them

While visiting at the hospital John tickles Elizabeth toes but she can’t feel anything.

Aimee shows her parents and Mrs. Winfield the new school teacher the model of the store and her house that she has made for her school project. The Baldwins arrive and want to buy her a pony to inspire her to come home.

Ben asks Erin for some money so that he can buy Elizabeth a gift. Erin says that he doesn’t have to buy her anything, he just has to go spend time with her in the hospital. He says she doesn’t understand.

On her way to school Aimee stops to pick a berry from a bush. Ada Corley startles her from behind the bush. Ada doesn’t want anyone to know where she gets her herbs from. Aimee asks if she can fix Elizabeth’s legs but Ada won’t do anything until Elizabeth is away from the doctors and their chemicals and book learning ways.

Elizabeth works on her school project and shows her Mama the dollar bill that Ben gave her. She thinks it was his last one. Ben asks Thelma for a job at the Dew Drop Inn. She offers him a job cleaning up the place at 50 cents an hour.

At the hospital Elizabeth still can’t feel her toes. Her mother gives her hope that she’ll be able to walk, dance and run again. Mary Ellen pulls Mama outside and tells her that the doctor isn’t sure whether she will regain use of her legs. Mama says that there is a higher power than the doctors who will decide Elizabeth’s fate. Ben shows up with two handfuls of flowers for Elizabeth at the hospital.

Jim-Bob is still feeling the guilt of Elizabeth’s accident. The family says that he is too busy thinking about himself instead of Elizabeth who hasn’t seem him since the accident. Jim-Bob finally agrees to visit her at the hospital. He picks up a box of chocolate covered cherries at the store but can barely stay around long enough to give them to her. Elizabeth announces that her casts will be coming off the next day.

The next day the doctor reports that her legs are healing well but the nerves have not reconnected and therefore her muscles won’t work. He encourages Olivia and her family to stay optimistic and give her hope to use her legs and not become dependent on crutches and their support.

At home the family prepares Grandpa’s room for Elizabeth. Jim-Bob moves out to the shed allowing Grandpa to move upstairs. Daddy goes out to the shed and requests Jim-Bob to go in and say goodnight to his sister. He abides but only gives a half hearted attempt. Ben on the other hand brings Elizabeth a huge bottle of expensive cologne. His mother advises Ben that it would be more meaningful if he gave Elizabeth some of his time instead of expensive gifts. She feels hopeless now that 2 of her sons work nights at the saloon.

Grandpa keeps Jason and Ben awake with his loud snoring.

The next day Aimee helps push Elizabeth around in the wheelchair that the Baldwin ladies had bought for Olivia when she had polio. Aimee asks Elizabeth if they could ask Ada Corley to try fixing her legs but Elizabeth says that she is afraid of her.

Grandpa suggests that they take Elizabeth to the hot springs. He tells her that she can soak her legs just like President Roosevelt does. When they dip her into the hot springs a bee stings her legs but she is unable to feel the pain.

Later in the living room, Erin and Jason make the family laugh with their fancy dance steps. The Baldwin sisters show up with the pony for Elizabeth. Aimee rides the pony in circles to show Elizabeth what it be like one day for her when she regains the use of her legs. Elizabeth grows disheartened at the sight of Aimee riding the pony. She wishes that she could ride the pony but feels helpless to do so.

Ike walks back home after his motorcycle breaks down. He tells Corabeth that Aimee is gonna stay the night with Elizabeth but Corabeth feels that something is not right. The girls sneak out and use the pony cart to go see Ada Corley.

Ada agrees to help after Aimee promises to pay her $3 that she has saved in a bank account. Ada inspects Elizabeth’s legs struts and says that they restrict blood flow. She feels Elizabeth’s legs and says they are as sound as hickory. She rubs an ointment on her legs and then encourages her to walk. Elizabeth falls down and cries. Ada believes that Elizabeth can walk but her mind has been poisoned to believe that she can’t. John, Grandpa and Ike arrive and take Elizabeth and Aimee home. John goes to the church and prays for Elizabeth’s recovery.

At school Elizabeth watches the other kids play soccer. The balls stops near Elizabeth and does her best to return the ball back to the other kids. Miss Winfield the teacher sees that Elizabeth had in fact taken a few steps without her crutches. After school she stops buy the house to report what she witnessed to her parents. Meanwhile Elizabeth who has been left alone on the swing makes an attempt to walk back to er crutches. She knocks them over. Jim-Bob can tell that she has taken a few steps on her own. He doesn’t help but encourages her to walk to him. She staggers four steps towards him and falls into his arms. The family rejoices and soon enough she is back on her feet and able to ride her pony on her own.


  "By the Fall of that year my sister was entirely free of the braces on her legs and was able once again to take part in the active life of the mountain."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • The cart, that Ben attaches to the pony first appears in "The Pony Cart" (s5-ep10)
  • Grandpa says that Ben must have cleared out every flower shop between Lynchburg and Schuyler. This is the first reference to the town that creator Earl Hamner is from.
  • The Baldwins sisters father's first name is Randolph.
  • Elizabeth pony's name is Judy.
  • Ada Corley is portrayed by actress Virginia Gregg who played the role of Miss Parker, the school teacher, in "Spencer's Mountain". She also played the role of Mrs. Butterworth in "The Fledgling" (s4-ep23). She also appeared in Earl Hamner's TV series "Apple's Way" (s1-ep11).
  • This story takes on certain parallels to "The Easter Story" (s1-ep24) when Olivia loses the use of her legs when she contracts polio.

Additional Cast:



Helen Kleeb (Miss Mamie), Mary Jackson (Miss Emily), Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth Godsey), Virginia Gregg (Ada Corley), Rachel Longaker (Aimee Godsey), Richard Sarradet (Dr. Jamison), Dorothy Shay (Thelma), Julie Gibson (Evelyn Winfield), John Crawford (Ep Bridges)

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