Growing up, The Waltons was always a television favorite around my house. I'm not really sure why. After all, we were kids living in the disco-crazed, polyester-draped seventies. Yet, every week, we would turn off the music to see what the gang on Walton's Mountain was up to.
As simplistic as the show could be at times, there was something fun about the prospect of having an entire mountain to yourself. At a time when America was still reeling from the effects of Vietnam, there were long lines at the gas pumps, and the country was moving faster than ever before, there was something soothing about going back to a simpler place and time for one hour each week.
Season seven of The Waltons brought some big changes to the series. Will Geer, who portrayed Grandpa Zeb Walton, had died during the series hiatus after season six, so the seventh season premiered on September 21, 1978 with a special two-hour episode titled "Empty Nest" dedicated to his memory. Narrator Earl Hamner Jr. opened the show with these words: "For as long as any of us could remember our house had stood in the shadow of Walton's Mountain. We counted time by its seasons, growing up and growing old, and even those of us who went away never really left it. It was a fitting place for my grandfather to be buried, and in the six months since his death we had learned to live with our grief. We never looked up at the mountain without feeling his strength. We were to need it: the year was 1941 and there was a tension in the air that threatened to pull us apart".
1941 was to be a tough year for the Waltons. The loss of his father left John (Ralph Waite) at a crossroads. He felt lost, but at the same time his lumber company was busier than it had ever been. After declining an offer to become Vice President in charge of Lumber Procurement for Matt Sarvers Company, John decides to oversee a lumber co-op involving all of the lumber companies on Walton's Mountain. For the first time in his life, John begins to feel some financial freedom, as the mill is overflowing with orders to aid the war effort.
Meanwhile, Mary Ellen (Judy Norton-Taylor) has entered the accelerated program to complete her registered nursing degree, so that she can join her husband Curt (Tom Bower) in Hawaii. A nurse suggests she try amphetamines to get through the last few weeks of the program after she sees Mary Ellen asleep in the lounge. At first she resists the idea, but soon asks her friend, Dr. David Spencer for a few days' supply of "pep pills."