A wayfaring stranger comes to Walton’s Mountain, and he’s hard-nosed, ill-mannered and something of a fish out of water. The Waltons (of course) take him in after his foot is injured, and learn that his name is Gino and that he has come from a place called Big Meadow. Peeling away his layers of sarcasm and resistance, they further discover his background: he is from a tenement in New York, lost both his parents as a child and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. When he is caught stealing money, John calls the sheriff, but reconsiders after hearing the boy’s story and watching him console a grieving Elizabeth over the death of her pet raccoon.
Great performance by Broadway actor/composer Michael Rupert as the cynical Gino, who transcends street-smart stereotypes and adds a refreshing dose of irony to the show’s uber-reverential tone. His speech to Elizabeth in the barn rafters is piercingly emotional, and the episode gets extra points for invoking a New Deal program; heads up US History II students!