Welcome To: The Waltons: The Lost Episode, Where's Our Truck, Dude?
This story has two segments. The first segment is the non-profit community theater I helped to form in my hometown, Hamilton, Alabama. The theater was named by my good friend and man of the cloth, Bro. Clinton Padgett, formerly of Hamilton, who now resides in Shelby, North Carolina. The second, and final segment is a guy named Tommy Sullins, son of Buddy and Linda Sullins, also of Hamilton. Tommy was a theater arts major at The University of North Alabama in Florence, Alabama. I do not know where Sullins is in 2011, or what he is doing.
Okay it was the summer of 1992, and my managing editor and good friend, Les Walters, at the Journal Record, a newspaper that covered our county, Marion, in northwest Alabama, was to meet with theatrical producer, Sylvia Johnston, Guin, Alabama, who had asked Les and I to co-write a script about “Mayberry,“ Andy Griffith’s hometown and use all original Mayberry characters, produce an original script for the then-Marion County Little Theater’s summer production to raise needed monies to help restart the theater. The theater company had been shut down for a few years. ’
Les and I started the original Mayberry script entitled, “Mayberry Under Siege,” a typical plot where a bad guy who Andy had sent to prison had returned to Mayberry with his equally-evil pals to get even with Andy Taylor for ruining his life. The main thug was Haskell Bradshaw, played by Sylvia’s husband, Jud. And he nailed the part. The play was a big success with two sell-out performances in Hamilton and two sell-outs in Winfield, a town 30 minutes from Hamilton. The Marion County Little Theater was reborn and ready to produce plays with a more dramatic tone to their scripts. This is when Tommy Roby, Exie Williford, also of Hamilton, Alabama, Clint Padgett and myself left Marion County Little Theater to form our own non-profit community theater company, The Kudzu Playhouse.
I said all of that to say this. Tommy Sullins told his parents, Buddy and Linda Sullins, that “I” might want to try my hand at screenwriting for a few studios in Hollywood where he met with a certain measure of success. I never took the time to actually try to write a screenplay. Until now.
My screenplay, if you will, is entitled: “The Walton's: Lost Episode,” and it is not your typical Walton’s story. If you will remember most plots of the Walton’s involved some form of tragedy that made the Walton’s a stronger, wiser, and more grateful family in each week’s installment. So get a snack, a cold drink, relax and visualize with me that you are watching The Walton's: The Lost Episode on its original time of 8 p.m. on a Thursday night.
THE WALTON’S CAST:
John "John-Boy" Walton, Jr. (Richard Thomas) the oldest of seven children, aged 17 in season one.
John Walton, Sr. (Ralph Waite), the family patriarch.
Olivia Walton (Michael Learned), John's wife.
Zebulon Tyler "Zeb/Grandpa" Walton, (Will Geer; not replaced after Geer's death), John's father.
Esther "Grandma" Walton (Ellen Corby, appears regularly season 1 until Corby's stroke midway through season five; returns last episode of season 6 and all of season 7), John's mother.
Jason Walton (Jon Walmsley), John-Boy's younger brother, aged 15 in season 1; musically talented.
Mary Ellen Walton (Judy Norton Taylor), the oldest Walton daughter.
Erin Esther Walton (Mary Elizabeth McDonough), second Walton daughter.
Benjamin "Ben" Walton (Eric Scott), third Walton son; has an entrepreneurial spirit.
James Robert "Jim-Bob" Walton (David W. Harper), youngest Walton son; mechanically inclined.
Elizabeth Walton (Kami Cotler), youngest of the seven children.
THE SCENE: IN THE KITCHEN OF THE WALTON’S HOME.
FAMILY HAS GATHERED FOR THE RITUALISTIC FAMILY DINNER.
We hear the Walton’s chattering, laughing, as they pass the potatoes, green beans, buttermilk cornbread, and peach cobbler around the table.
We also hear Grandpa Zeb snoring like a chainsaw.
GRANDMA: Wake up, you old fool!
GRANDPA: Huh, what? Oh, Esther, you cute dish. I need to give ya’ a kiss! I was dreaming of a time when I was a young blade dancing a jig with a lovely little thing (winks at the Walton male family members), what was her name? Oh yessss, Mary Katherine Gunther--ummmm, what a kiss she gave me when the music stopped. (Grandpa looks off in space smiling).
GRANDMA SLAPS HIS FACE WITH A WOODEN SPOON.
REST OF FAMILY LAUGHS HEARTILY.
GRANDMA: Stop that blaspheming, you old fool. You’re in danger of hell fire for that vulgar talk.
JOHN: Jim Bob, are you though looking at the peach cobbler?
JIM BOB: Oh, uh, sorry, daddy. Been so long since I saw a peach cobber, couldn’t help but stare.
OLIVIA: John Boy, was today the day you had your interview at Boat Wright University?
JOHN BOY: Ma’am?
OLIVIA: Boat Wright University--the college, what you talked about for weeks?
JOHN BOY: (giggles), oh yes, ma’am, I made it in time, but daddy that ol’ truck needs new tires. I had to leave the truck on the side of the road and hitch-hike to the college.
JOHN: John Boy! What are you thinking? That truck is our only way to haul lumber to our customers.
JOHN BOY: Oh, don’t worry, daddy. Some real friendly gentlemen came by and said they would watch the truck for me while I was gone. (takes big bite of green beans. Chews).
THE REST OF THE WALTON FAMILY LOOK AT EACH OTHER WITH A
LOOK OF AMAZEMENT ON THEIR FACES.
BEN: Ha, ha, John Boy, them men was car thieves. Boy, are you stupid.
OLIVIA: Hush, Ben! You can’t talk that way at the supper table. (pause), but I can. John Boy, how could you?
JOHN BOY: (stunned) Wy’ mama, the men said they were ministers--had white collars, Bibles and all. You and daddy raised us to never doubt a person.
JOHN: Yes, son, but you sometimes need some common sense. Tomorrow at first light, Grandpa, you and me will get Ike Godsey to take us down the road where doofus, I mean, John Boy, left the truck.
GRANDPA: Good idea, John. We can do now and I can stop by the Baldwin sisters for some arthritis medicine (winks at John).
GRANDMA: No, you old fool! That stuff will send you to hell. It’s homemade whiskey is all it is. Shame on you for having evil thoughts like that.
MARY ELLEN: Anybody care what I did today?
REST OF CAST IN UNISON: “NOOO!”
ELZABETH: I saw ‘reckless’ chase a squirrel this afternoon on the way back from school.
JOHN: Why didn’t you kill it? I ain’t seen any meat for weeks in this house!
OLIVIA: Well, now, John. There’s plenty of meat out on the back porch.
JOHN: You mean that snake I killed yesterday at the mill? So that explains the awful smell.
GRANDMA: And all this time I thought it was you, you old fool (talking to Grandpa).
JASON: Mama, may I have 50 cents for the jukebox tonight at the Dew Drop Inn?
OLIVIA: Dew Drop Inn? Jason Walton, you are going to hell for going to a “sin hole” like that!
JASON: But, mama, I’m playing there to earn some extra money. And I don’t drink. You know that. I am too sensitive to let alcohol touch my tender lips.
GRANDPA, JOHN, JOHN BOY, BEN AND JIM BOB LOOK AT EACH OTHER
WITH AMAZEMENT AT JASON’S COMMENT.
JOHN: Oh now, ‘Liv, let the boy taste the nectar of life like I did at his age. He needs to spread his wings and learn how to make a living--he won’t be living here much longer.
JASON: What was that daddy? I was too busy chewing.
OLIVIA: Okay, just this time, Jason. And what to you need the jukebox for if you are playing your guitar for the sinners who visit that awful place where satan hangs out?
JASON: Oh, I also give dancing lessons when I get finished singing. The manager seems to like this new idea of charging for dance lessons.
GRANDPA: Dance lessons? Wy’ there ain’t been a Walton man from any generation that didn’t come into the world cutting a rug and holding a pretty lady.
JASON: No, grandpa, I am teaching the rugged men the fine art of dancing to make their wives happy.
GRANDPA: Oh, you teaching these scallywags the Charleston, right?
JASON: No, grandpa, the waltz.
GRANDPA: Jason, son, I’m a tad worried. Last time I was in the Dew Drop Inn, there wasn’t any women anywhere, so do you show these ol’ boys the waltz and let them hold you in their arms and float over the sawdust floor?
JASON: Ha, ha, good one, grandpa. No, I hold them. Somebody’s gotta lead!
GRANDMA: Shut up, you old fool. I am warning you. One more evil crack and I am leaving.
GRANDPA SMILES AND SHIFTS HIS EYEBROWS UP AND DOWN.
OLIVIA: Erin, you are awful quiet tonight. Something bothering you?
ERIN: Ma’am? Oh, no, ma’am. Just thinking about Walter. He tried to kiss me today.
JOHN: Yeeeessss! That makes two Walton kids leaving. First Jason with his barroom gigs and now Erin marrying up to Walter. What a good day this has been.
OLIVIA: John Walton, listen to yourself. Erin’s not old enough to marry. Are you, Erin?
ERIN: Ohhh, mama, you always forget “my” birthday. I think I am adopted.
OLIVIA: Oh, John Boy, you didn’t finish telling about your interview with Dean Fitzpatrick.
JOHN BOY: Mama, I tell you. He loved my stories. Said that with my grades that I could easily start near the top of my class, graduate sooner than expected and be writing for a newspaper or magazine in a year or so.
OLIVIA: Did you hear that, John? Our oldest son will graduate Boat Wright and be working’ for a newspaper or magazine soon.
JOHN: (GRINNING) Heeee, yaaa! That’s three Walton kids that I won’t have to bust my back and bleed from splinters in that lumber mill to feed them. This day is getting’ better and better!
GRANDMA: John Walton! I never thought I’d hear you talk in such a sinful way. These are our grand kids and they need our support.
JOHN: For the rest of their lives? Uh, uh, mama. Not in this man’s house.
OLIVIA: So, John Boy, when do you start with your college classes?
JOHN BOY STOPS HIS FORK FROM ENTERING HIS MOUTH
JOHN BOY: Classes? What classes? Mr. Fitzpatrick said with my sharp mind, I would be the best janitor that Boat Wright ever had! That’s a blessing, I tell you.
JOHN: I’ll say.
GRANDMA: Janitor work never hurt anyone. Good, sweaty work. Good boy, John boy.
A KNOCK COMES ON THE KITCHEN DOOR.
JOHN: Come in. We don’t have any guns!
YANCEY: Well, howdy, folks. Looks like I got here just in time.
GRANDMA: Yancey, you old backslider. What are you doing here?
YANCEY: Well, it’s a funny thing. I started over here from my shack, you know how far that is, about 3 o’ clock this evening and then I was give a ride on YOUR truck, John, ‘cept the new owners had painted it yeller. These good ol’ boys let me off at the yonder road. There’s still some good folks left in the world.
JOHN: My truck? New owners?
YANCEY PULLS OFF HIS CAP AND PULLS OUT A CHAIR AND STARTS
FILLING UP A PLATE WITH FOOD.
YANCEY: Yeah, John. These men, looked like preachers to me, said that they had bought your truck from, uh, John Boy this very afternoon--said he give ‘em a good deal too. Said he practically ‘give the truck to them.’ Why did you do that, John Boy?
JOHN BOY: Yancey, those gentlemen, was, well, . . .
JOHN: Say it, John Boy!
JOHN BOY: Thieves. They lied a blue streak to me.
MARY ELLEN: Jason, did you remember to bring me back some of that rose colored lipstick from Godsey’s Store yesterday?
JASON: Sure, sis. Here ya’ go! (REACHES INTO OVERALLS POCKET. FINDS LIPSTICK, THROWS IT TO MARY ELLEN).
MARY ELLEN: Hey, what gives? This is half-gone!
JASON: Oh that. Well, Mary Ellen, I had to ‘test it’ for you.
MARY ELLEN: Whattaya mean, test it?
JASON: I put some on my lips for they were, uh, (cough, cough), chapped. Sorry.
GRANDPA AND THE WALTON MALES GAZE AT JASON IN SURPRISE.
YANCEY: Mrs. Walton, this pork meat is sure fine eating.
OLIVIA: Yancey, you are such a card. That isn’t meat. That’s the sole of one of John’s old boots I put in the green beans to give them that ‘meaty’ taste.
YANCEY: Can I have more? Best beans I ever had.
JIM BOB: I saw a bird today. Made me want to join the Air Force when I’m older.
JOHN: (STANDS UP FROM TABLE, LIFTS ARMS ABOVE HIS HEAD) Yessss! That’s four mouths I won’t have to feed. I think I am dreaming.
GRANDMA: Olivia, throw some cold water on John. Looks like he’s having a fit.
JIM BOB: Anybody want to see me fly off the counter over there just like the plane I saw?
BEN: You bet, Jim Bob! Let’s see that.
JIM BOB JUMPS ATOP THE COUNTER NEAR THE KITCHEN SINK, “FLIES” OFF MAKING AN AIRPLANE SOUND AS HE SMASHES HIMSELF ON THE FLOOR.
ELIZABETH: Can I have his room if he’s out cold?
JOHN: Wheww, I don’t know if I can stand any more happiness tonight. Oh yeah, Yancey, did you get a good look at the men who was driving my truck?
YANCEY: (CHEWING): Yep. Both of ‘em was big, say around two-hundred pounds. Tall, say about six-foot easy. Had huge arms. You know, the size of them Oak trees that grows on the north ridge. Big fellas. Looked like wild apes.
JOHN: Well, looks like ‘somebody’ at his table’s gonna have to ‘man-up’ and do the adult thing about this truck that I did NOT sell. Right, John Boy?
JASON: Wheww, glad it was John Boy, for I don’t know how to ‘man-up.’
JOHN BOY: But, but, daddy! Yancey has said how big these men are and they are probably escaped convicts. Why not just let them have the old truck? Grandma, you always said, “do unto others,” right?
GRANDMA: Don’t drag me into your foolishness. Let these hooligans just have John’s truck. That bump on the head when you was ten must have messed up your good sense, John Boy. Going to church more will take care of that.
JOHN BOY: Okay, daddy. Yancey, will you go with me to see Sheriff Thompson? We can get him to help us find these men--and besides, how tough can finding a yellow truck be in all this green mountain land? You see? I am already thinking like a Boat Wright janitor.
YANCEY: Sorry, John Boy, I gotta go by the Baldwin sisters’ house in the morning. They hired me to clean out their storage shed.
GRANDPA: Need some help, Yancey, old friend?
GRANDMA: Hush your sinful mouth, old man! You are not going to those bootleggers!
JOHN: Well, with no truck, I might as well go fishin’ tomorrow. You goin’ with me, grandpa?
WITH SUPPER FINISHED, OLIVIA, MARY ELLEN, ERIN, GRANDMA AND JASON CLEAR THE TABLE. JASON VOLUNTEERS TO WASH THE DISHES BEFORE HE GOES TO THE DEW DROP INN.
TIME: 7 A.M. THE NEXT MORNING.
PLACE: ON THE FRONT PORCH OF THE WALTON’S HOME
JOHN: grandpa, you awake?
GRANDPA: son, I was up and going at 2 a.m. This fishin’ trip is just what the doctor ordered.
JOHN BOY: I’m off to see Sheriff Thompson. Aren’t you going to give me some of your fatherly-advice, daddy?
JOHN: John Boy, please! Just make sure you don’t give your shoes to another gang of “preachers,” on your way to town.
JOHN BOY WALKS OFF IN A HUFF AS GRANDPA AND JOHN NUDGE EACH OTHER IN THE RIBS AND HAVE A GOOD LAUGH AT HIM.
JOHN: Grandpa, let’s go. Can’t keep the fish waiting!
GRANDPA: Listen, John. Do you hear that?
JOHN: What, grandpa? I don’t hear anything.
GRANDPA: Well, lordy be! If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that I see your truck-a coming up the road to the house!
JOHN: What a lucky streak I am on--four Walton kids about to leave and now my truck is being returned.
TRUCK STOPS. A MAN WEARING A DERBY HAT WALKS AROUND FRONT
JOHN: Help ye’, mister?
MR.HANEY: Are you, uh, John Walton?
JOHN: Yessir. Who are you?
MR. HANEY: My name is, well, just call me, Mr. Haney. I hear you have a need for a truck.
FADE TO BLACK.
Okay, I know what you are worried about. With the sudden-success of this screenplay, you are worried that I will change. Get an inflated ego. Big head. Not speak to you again. Move to Hollywood. Not a chance.
I will remain the same humble, obscure, faceless man that I am today.
But I might entertain the idea of moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma. I hear that Tulsa’s nice this time of year.