"Roots. That's a good word for it. Everybody's got a family tree and just to know how the roots grew, well that gives you a sense of who you are." spoken by Martha Corinne Walton, The Waltons, Episode 10, 1976
David's Reformed Church Congregation
Congregation of David's Reformed Church, Montgomery Co, Ohio, Circa, 1900
Okay. So Martha Corinne Walton is not a member of my family, nor is she a real person, but she is somebody I feel very sentimental about today. She is also a character that I would consider a "Fearless Female", so this post follows along with both of the prompts we have been given this month. Martha Corinne Walton, sister in law of Zebulon "Grandpa" Walton on one of my favorite television series, "The Waltons" plays a significant role in what has to be one of the most memorable and well written episodes of the show's entire run. She is brilliantly portrayed by Beulah Bondi, who also played Jimmy Stewart's mother (Ma Bailey) in "It's a Wonderful Life". The episode originally aired on 2 December, 1976 and was written by Jack Miller. I don't think I had a real appreciation for this particular episode until recently. I bought the entire fifth season dvd set and started watching from the beginning. This particular show revolves around the visit of Martha Corinne. She is quite elderly and has been living alone in a place far away from her mountain home. Her arrival at first brings excitement as she presents each family member with special gifts she has brought for them. In the days to come, however, she begins to intrude on their daily activites with her own opinions and stubbornness. Finally, tired of putting up with her, Olivia gently lets her know that the time for her visit has come to an end. John Boy is asked to take her home, but on the way she asks if he will take her to her old home on top of the mountain. While she is there, she remembers what it was like being there as a young bride with her husband as they built their home piece by piece with their own hands. She tells John Boy about his pioneer history and she says what has become one of my favorite quotes, "Roots. That's a good word for it. Everybody's got a family tree and just to know how those roots grew...well, that gives you a sense of who you are".
It soon becomes obvious to John Boy that his great aunt is not well and she finally has to admit that she is dying. When he realizes that she had come to be with the family so she would not be alone when she died, he demands that she come home with him. She makes him promise not to tell the family about her condition, but after he is pressed by Olivia, he must tell the truth, making Martha Corinne very angry. I won't give away the entire show in case you haven't seen it, but this particular episode deeply touches my heart. It's commuicates the importance of family roots and history in a way that few shows do, and today, it made me feel awfully sentimental.