Ep.16 - The Burden

  Original Airdate: January 25, 1973
Writer: E.F.Wallengren
Director: Harry Harris


  Jim-Bob decides to become a preacher after a near death experience. Elizabeth catches bugs for a science project.

Intro scene:


Jim-Bob sits in Church with the new minister. Rev. Bradshaw warns the young Walton about the difficult choice he is about to make. Jim-Bob says that he knows he is making the right decision ... that he was given a sign from God.


  "Along with the rest of the country, 1942 brought great upheaval to Walton's Mountain. Each day the news from the battle fronts grew more and more grim while here at home defense plants worked around the clock to produce the weapons of war. In our home we suffered a personal tragedy for our mother was away recovering from a serious illness. It was a time of great trial for each of us, but especially for Jim Bob."



Members of the family are gathered in the living room after dinner. Mary-Ellen turns off the radio which broadcasts news of the war stating that it is depressing. The family is upset that Jim-Bob has been running around wild lately since their Mama has gone away to the sanatorium. He arrives home and Mary Ellen tries to reason with him. He storms off to his room and his father follows to have words with him.

Jim-Bob and his friend Tinker nearly run over Corabeth outside of the store as they drive through the community. He backs up and apologizes to Corabeth who is visibly upset and vows to speak to his father. She makes her way to the Walton house to advise John of the situation. Jim-Bob pulls up in his car and explains that his brakes aren’t working too well. He apologizes to Corabeth again. His father warns him that he will take away his car if he doesn’t get it fixed.

Later Jim-Bob works under the car without having secured the car properly. His Daddy warns him to block it up. As soon as John turns away the car falls on Jim-Bob and the family races to his aid and remove him from under the car. Jim-Bob is dazed but physically okay. The experience has rattled him and he spends a fair bit of time reflecting on the events. The next day he stops in to talk to Rev. Bradshaw, the new minster before church. Later during the service the Reverend announces to the congregation’s surprise that Jim-Bob has chosen to become a preacher.

Grandma gives Jim-Bob the Bible she received for her christening in 1883. He is grateful for her precious gift. He goes to Boatwright University to learn about the requirements for going to seminary but learns that he needs to complete 4 years of college first and learn latin. He is discouraged by the news because he wants to start preaching as soon as possible.

At home he gives his car to Ben as he is letting go of all his worldly riches. Jim-Bob has become a walking scripture quoting machine.

At dinner Daddy asks Jim-Bob to bless the food and he blesses everyone but forgets to less the food. He then exchanges words with his father when he debates the ownership of his car and who is responsible to fix the brakes.

After dinner Jim-Bob continues to rid himself of his possesions and gives his shortwave radio to Erin and his aviator cap to Elizabeth. They don't want his items but he has no interest in them either.

The next day, after a night of drinking a visibly drunk Tinker finds Jim-Bob outside the church and coaxes him to practice some preaching inside. Tinker taunts and ridicules him. The family finds a note from Jim-Bob that he has left home to become a preacher.

Later, Elizabeth discovers Jim-Bob sitting on the ground near the little pond. She runs to tell her Daddy who goes and talks to him. Jim-Bob feels like a failure and explains why he felt compelled to become a preacher. He believed that all the bad things that have happened like Grandma getting sick, Grandpa and Curt dying and his Mama going away were because he needed to become a better person. His father admits having some of those thoughts himself but convinces him to take things as they come.

Secondary Story:


Elizabeth catches bugs and insects for a school science project. She comes in after dinner with a jar of fireflies. She then builds a cage to catch a lunar moth. Elizabeth stops by the store for more mason jars. Corabeth asks about Jim-Bob and informs Elizabeth that her brother Albert graduated from seminary and became a preacher. Elizabeth collects crickets with John Curtis but when she sees a Lunar moth in a tree John Curtis dumps her crickets out back on the ground.

Erin is upset by thegrowing collection of bugs in her bedroom that Elizabeth had ben collecting and keeping track of. As she finally goes to bed Elizabeth tosses Jim-Bob's aviator cap onto her desk and accidentally knocks over her jar of crickets which escape throughout the bedrooms. The kids wake up from all the sounds of chirping crickets and discover that they have escaped. They loudly scream and wake their father as they try and catch them. He asks Elizabeth to take her bugs out to the shed in the morning.

Elizabeth catches a lunar moth but it has died inside the cage. She decides that maybe she shouldn’t trap live animals inside jars and cages and decides to release her collection.


  "Although Jim Bob never beacame a preacher his deeply religious experience added an important dimension to his life, and to his relationship to our father. In the years to come his faith became a source of strength to all those who knew him."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • Rev. Bradshaw appears in this episode to replace Rev. Andrew March as the 4th minister since the beginning of the series.
  • Tony Moran who plays Jim-Bob's friend Tinker is the older brother of Happy Days actress Erin Moran who appeared as Sally Anne Harper, a romantic interest of Ben's in "The Song" (S3-ep22).
  • Actor Ivor Francis previously appeared as Professor Hoadley in "The Breakdown" (s4-ep6) as the Librarian who hires John-Boy at Boatwright. He also plays the role of Dean Beck in "The Remembrance" (s8-ep17) and "The Threshold" (s9-ep16).
  • Corabeth's brother Albert graduated from from Seminary at Jerome College in Savannah, Ga.

Additional Cast:



Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth), Ivor Francis (Professor Hoadley), Tony Moran (Tinker), Nolan Leary (Reverend Bradshaw)
Special guest: Ellen Corby (Grandma)

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