CTVA - The Virginian 8.06 [207] "The Runaway"  22-Oct-1969

The Classic TV Archive - TV Western series
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8.06 [207]
"The Runaway"

Original NBC Broadcast - 22 October 1969

Universal TV
(No Executive Producer)
Produced by Norman MacDonnell
Written by Gerald Sanford
Directed by Tony Leader

(shown in the ride in--all appear in this episode)
John McIntire as Clay Grainger
Doug McClure as Trampas
Tim Matheson as Jim Horn
Sara Lane as Elizabeth Grainger
James Drury as The Virginian

Guest stars:
(all superb performances [rho])
Guy Stockwell [Luke Callahan aka Bayo]
Peter Whitney [McPherson]
Jan Shepard [Claire Martin]
V207_JWhitaker.jpg (66449 bytes)
Johnny Whitaker [Hoot Callahan]

Complete Ending Credits:

Also Starring
Jeanette Nolan as Holly Grainger (a fine performance by Ms. Nolan as well [rho])
Ross Elliott as Sheriff Abbott
Kay E. Kuter as Jonah Sills
Stuart Nisbet as Bart
John Harmon as Henry
Buck Young as Pete
Dee Carroll as Katie Sills
Michael Bow as Nick
Harper Flaherty as Harper
Music Score Fred Steiner
Theme Percy Faith
Director of photography Enzo A. Martinelli
Art Director ... William J. Kenney
Set Decorations ... John McCarthy and Perry Murdock
Unit Manager ... Henry Kline
Assistant Director ... Richard Bennett
Film Editor ... J. Howard Terrill
Music Supervision ... Stanley Wilson
Sound ... Earl Crain, Jr.
Color Consultant ... Robert Brower
Titles and Optical Effects Universal Title
Editorial Supervision ... Richard Belding
Costumes by ... Helen Colvig
Makeup ... Bud Westmore
Hairstylist ... Larry Germain
The title "The Virginian" by permission of EMKA LTD.

Series regular characters appearing in this episode:
Holly, Clay and Elizabeth Grainger, The Virginian, Trampas,
Jim Horn, Sheriff Mark Abbott, Bart the bartender, Harper

Brief Synopsis:
The Graingers take care of a child who has run away from a cruel
master of a home for wayward boys on the quest to find the father he
adores--Medicine Bow's town drunk. (bj)

Detailed Synopsis:
Luke Callahan, aka "Bayo", lives upstairs at Claire Martin's boarding
house in Medicine Bow. We first see him bringing a bottle home and
then pouring himself a drink. Claire enters and tells him that supper
is ready, but Luke is unfazed. He'd rather talk about the nearby
mountains and how they look like they're "made of gold" and just
"waitin' for somebody to come along and dig it all up." Claire
changes the subject and says that several local ranches are looking
for help. Luke isn't interested, saying, "Oh, Claire, now I've told
you I've quit with ranchin'. Ten hard years, and all I got was enough
ground to bury my wife in." "Besides," he adds while taking another
drink, "I got me a job!" "You can do a whole lot better than cleaning
out a saloon, Bayo," she replies. She adds that if he were to get a
decent job he could send for his son. "I'm goin' to, Claire. It just
takes time. I got plans. I'm gonna learn me a trade. Maybe I'll get
a business. Then I can take care of Hoot the way I want to," he answers.
She reminds him that a boy should be with his father. "And he's goin'
to be, Claire. It just takes time till I get on my feet again. Look,
I left him with a very good family. They always treated him as one of
their own...I'll bet you he's as happy as a bear cub in a pot of honey!"
he says as he pours himself another drink.

The scene shifts to the dormitory at McPherson's Home for Wayward Boys,
where a young boy is escaping into the night. Barking guard dogs arouse
the headmaster, McPherson. Despite the dogs, the boy manages to escape.
McPherson fires his gun and yells, "It'll do you no good to run, boy!
I'll catch you and I'll drag you back!"

We next see the runaway boy meeting up with Trampas, Jim and Liz after he
steals the food from a picnic basket Liz had brought out for the two
cowhands who were trying to catch a mountain lion. The boy puts up a
fight by kicking him, but Trampas manages to grab him and put him over
his shoulder as he says to Jim, "Wait here for that lion while I take
care of this bobcat!" Trampas and Liz bring the boy to the Shiloh house
where Holly offers him a hot meal. He refuses to eat or talk despite
Holly's gentle prodding. When he knocks over the kitchen table and tries
to run away, Clay grabs him and says, "What this young fellow needs is
a good spanking!" "Not while I'm around here, Clay Grainger!" snaps
Holly, "Now you all get out of here! No wonder the poor boy wants to
run away with two grown men standing over him, asking him questions!"
As Clay and Trampas leave, Liz fixes another plate of food. Holly
tucks in his napkin and says, "Guess you've been through a lot in your
short life. I can see that. But nobody's going to hurt you here."
He gives in and starts eating, but still won't talk.

Later, the Virginian is in the study with Clay and Holly. He has been
checking with the sheriff and the people in town, but nobody knows who
the boy is. He leaves to go back to work and Holly, with a happy smile
on her face, tells Clay that she wants to take the boy into town to buy
him some clothes. Clay agrees, but warns her "not to get too attached."

The scene shifts to an eatery near the McPherson Home for Boys where
McPherson is drinking a beer and grilling the proprietor about the boy.
The proprietor has indeed seen him; "The day before yesterday, I just
come out of the back room and there he was, lookin' at them sandwiches
down at the end of the bar. Before I could stop him, he grabbed one and
run out. I know, I should have figured he was from your place...The way
he was running, he might be clean into Wyoming by now. I guess this is
one boy you lost!" "I'll get him back!" says McPherson, "That boy's a
troublemaker. Run off on me twice before. But I'm willing to bet he
never runs off again!" As McPherson leaves, the proprietor tells him
that he's heard they don't allow places like McPherson's in Wyoming and
he may have trouble bringing him back. "I've got papers from this state
saying the boy belongs to me. One way or another I'll bring him back!"
answers McPherson.

Back at Shiloh, we see the boy in his bedroom opening the window in
preparation for another escape attempt. There's a knock at the door
and he races back underneath the covers. Holly enters and notices the
open window. Bemusedly, she also notices that he's "sleeping" with his
shoes on. She takes his shoes off and tells him of her plans to take him
shopping. Afterwards Trampas will give him a tour of the ranch. "And down
in the barn," she adds, "we have a mare that's ready to foal...and you can
watch that little colt stand for the first time...You could even give it
it's name...Would you like to do these things?" He smiles and nods in
agreement. "Then you will!" she says, "but I have to have something to
call you. What do your folks call you?" He gets a sad look on his face
and Holly continues, "Are they dead? Is that it?" The boy finally speaks
for the first time and answers, "My ma." "I'm sorry," says Holly softly,
"And your pa? Where is he? What does he call you?" "Hoot," he answers.
"Hoot? You mean like the owl?" she asks. He nods and she kisses him
and says, "It's nice meeting you, Hoot. We're going to be good friends!"

We next see Clay attempting to give the boy a bath. Hoot isn't talking again.
He refuses to take the plunge even though Clay tries to empathize with him
by recalling how he used to hate to take baths when he was a boy. "There's
something about boys and bathwater that don't mix!" says Clay. Hoot
finally agrees to get undressed and take a bath after Holly suggests that
she and Clay leave the room and let him do it in private. In the study
Clay talks things over with the Virginian, who offers to have a talk with
the boy. "It can't hurt," says Clay, "I've tried everything I can think of.
I've talked to him like a son, man-to-man, like a friend, tried making
deals, even resorted to bribery. He just seems to sense that I'm going to
ask him about his father or where he came from and he shuts up tight.
Maybe you'll have better luck." The Virginian says it's worth a try and
Clay adds, "Funny thing. He kind of grows on you. Those eyes. They look
like they've seen all the unhappiness in the world. Maybe they have.
I just wish I knew what they were afraid of."

While Hoot is sleeping, Holly brings up a glass of milk. She goes over to
tuck him in and notices a large welt on his back; evidence that he's been
beaten or whipped. "Who would do a thing like that?" she asks Clay. As
if in answer, the scene shifts to McPherson riding the trail where he finds
a snippet of Hoot's clothing.

Later that night, Hoot makes another attempt to get away, but this time he's
stopped outside by the Virginian, who takes him into the bunkhouse and
gives him hot coffee. Hoot takes a sip and the Virginian tells him, "You're
tougher than I thought. Suppose you'd have to be, running away from home
like you did. Not that I blame you, seeing as how you were beaten and
whipped--Mrs. Grainger saw the scars on your back when she went to cover
you up. I guess I'd run away from home, too, if my pa beat me like that."
"My pa never beat me!" blurts out Hoot, "He was the best pa in the whole
world! You better take that back!" The Virginian says he's sorry and Hoot
continues, "He used to take me fishing and he taught me to ride a horse."
"Where is he now?" asks the Virginian. Hoot says that he went away.
He doesn't know where, but he'll be back and they'll be together always.
The Virginian asks who has been taking care of him and who has been beating
him. When he doesn't answer, the Virginian says, "If you tell me, maybe
I can do something about it. And if I can't, maybe the sheriff can. He
knows we've found you. Once he hears you've been beaten, he'll want to
know who did it." "The Sills. They beat me. And I ain't never going back!"
says Hoot. The Virginian hugs him, tells him everything will be all right
and asks him about the Sills.

The next morning, the Virginian reports this information to Clay and Holly.
Hoot's father had apparently left him with his neighbors, the Sills. They
live in Greeley, Colorado and the Virginian plans to ride down and talk with
them. "You can tell them for me, if they want that boy back, they'd better
start treating him like a human being!" says Clay. After the Virginian
leaves, Holly brings up the subject of not giving Hoot back. Clay tells her
that a father has the right to leave a boy with whomever he wants and they
can't just refuse to give him back. It's the law and besides, he warned
her about getting too attached. "What do you know what a woman feels toward
a child?" huffs Holly, "I started becoming attached the minute I saw him.
I was already too attached when I held him in my arms and saw that he
needed my love! Men! You think you know everything. And maybe you do--about

We next see a montage of scenes around the ranch superimposed with Hoot's
smiling face. In the barn, Jim asks Hoot how he got his name. He said that
his pa said he asked so many questions he'd be "smarter than a hoot owl."
He starts to tell Jim a story his father had told him about a giant who
kept kids from being afraid of the dark. Jim asks what the giant's name was.
"Pa called him 'Bayo'," says Hoot. "Bayo? That's a funny name for a giant,"
says Jim, "but I like that!" Liz interrupts the story and tells them to
come into the stall where the colt has just been born. He watches in
fascination as the newborn colt attempts to stand up for the first time.
"What are you going to name him?" asks Holly. "Bayo," says Hoot.

The scene shifts briefly to the saloon in Medicine Bow, where a couple of
wiseacres pull a prank on Luke Callahan and have a laugh at his expense.
Meanwhile the Virginian is on the trail heading to Greeley, Colorado, where
he locates the Sills home. Thinking that he's a robber, Mrs. Sills refuses
to let him in. The Virginian enters anyway and says he's ridden a long way
and just wants some answers. Mr. Sills enters with a rifle but puts it
down when the Virginian says he just wants information about Hoot. The
Sills are surprised to hear about the scars on Hoot's back and tell him that
Hoot hasn't lived with them for two years. Mr. Sills explains that Luke
Callahan "fell apart" after his wife died, "couldn't work his spread any
more" and "hardly wanted to live." He left Hoot with the Sills while he
went off to look for a job. They got letters from him from various places,
but they became fewer and farther between. Meanwhile, Hoot would often
run away looking for his pa and Mr. Sills would have to neglect his work
to go off and fetch him. Finally, with Mrs. Sills expecting a baby, they
decided they'd have to give him up. They gave him to an orphanage in Clearwater.
The Virginian asks if they heard any more from Luke after that. Mr. Sills
says that a couple of months ago they got a letter from him "full of the
same old promises" postmarked Medicine Bow.

Back in Medicine Bow, McPherson rides into town. After finding that the
sheriff is not in, he goes into the dry goods store where Liz is by herself
picking out clothes and shoes for Hoot. He picks up the pair of shoes that
have been selected and remarks, "That's a fine pair of shoes. Must be for
a little brother, eh? You're a bit young to have a boy that size," as Liz
glares at him.

The Virginian returns to Shiloh with the news about the Sills and the orphanage.
He speculates that maybe Hoot lied about the Sills beating him because it
was the people at the orphanage who really did it and he wanted the Sills to
come and take him back. Clay can't believe the orphange would do something
like that, but the Virginian says, "Maybe at this one, they did." He tells
Clay that he's never heard of Luke Callahan, but will ride into Medicine Bow
and ask around. Clay says he'll have a talk with Hoot when he gets back.
Holly has taken him into town to have the doctor look at his back.

Meanwhile in town, McPherson finds out from Bart, the bartender, that the
Graingers have taken in a young runaway at Shiloh. He asks for directions
and leaves. After he exits, Luke emerges from the back of the saloon and Bart
tells him to go sweep the boardwalk out front. After Holly buys him some
candy, Hoot playfully runs outside and runs into Luke, who is sweeping.
"You ought to be a little more careful, son" says Luke, not recognizing him.
"Sorry, Mister," says Hoot. "Hoot! Come along, Hoot!" calls out Holly
and a look of recognition comes over Luke.

Later at Shiloh, Clay tells Holly that if Hoot ran away from an orphanage,
they'd better begin making plans to send him back. She pleads with him to
wait just another couple of hours until he gets back from fishing with
Trampas. At the fishing hole, Trampas and Hoot aren't having much luck.
Trampas just misses catching a fish and Hoot says, "He wouldn't have gotten
away from my pa." "I don't know about that," says Trampas, "The way that
fish has been stealing my bait, I wouldn't be surprised if he had hands!"
"How'd you know it's the same one?" asks Hoot. "I recognized his laugh,"
says Trampas. Hoot tells Trampas that when he grows up he plans to have a
ranch like Shiloh "with a million head of cattle and mustangs and everything."
He asks Trampas to be his foreman, because, by that time his pa will be too
old and will "have to take care of the books like Mr. Grainger." "I'd like
to be your foreman, Hoot. I'd like that very much," replies Trampas, who
then stands up and says he's going to try his luck around the bend. He leaves
and Hoot gets his line caught in the trees. Just then, McPherson, who has
been hiding, emerges from the woods, grabs him by the neck and says, "You
gave me a good chase this time, Boy. I'm going to see to it you don't run
off again!" Trampas returns and tells McPherson to let go of the boy. "This
is none of your business!" says McPherson. "I think it is!" says Trampas.
McPherson says that he has papers entitling him to take the boy but Trampas
counters by saying he's on Shiloh land and will have to take that up with Mr.
Grainger. "All right!" says McPherson, "but when I leave Shiloh land that
boy will be going with me and you'll not be able to do a thing about it!"

We next see McPherson showing his papers to Clay and Holly. Clay asks about
the orphanage that Hoot had had been sent to. McPherson explains that the
orphanage couldn't handle him because he was always running away and stealing
food. The state found him "incorrigible" and sent him to McPherson's Home
for Boys. Clay asks him about the beatings and McPherson replies, "My boys
are like wild animals. Some of them take to kindness; others you have to
beat!" When he asks him if the court knows about this, McPherson says,
"The court knows it has no more trouble with my boys and that's good enough
for them." "Well, it's not good enough for me!" says Clay, who tells him
that, court order or not, he isn't going to let him take Hoot from Shiloh.
McPherson says he'll go to the sheriff and tells Clay, "You're not the
first one's tried to help that boy, but I always get him back. I will this
time, too!" After he leaves, Holly tells Clay that Hoot isn't an orphan
and doesn't belong in such a home because he has a real father. "Not if
we can't find him, Holly," says Clay, "He doesn't have anyone."

At Claire Martin's boarding house, Luke is drinking again and telling Claire
how he saw Hoot in town. She tells him he should go to him. He grabs her
and says, "Look at me, Claire. That boy used to look up to me. He thought
his pop knew everything, could do everything better than anybody else. Now
look what I've become, someone the whole town laughs at and makes a fool of.
I can't let him see me like this!" He pours himself another drink and
Claire says, "What are you going to do until then, Bayo? Are you going to
stay drunk so you can forget he's around? Are you going to lock yourself
into this room so that you don't have to run into him again? Is that how
you're going to get back on your feet?" He continues to drink and says,
"It just takes time, Claire. I got these plans. It takes time..."

At the sheriff's office, Mark Abbott looks over McPherson's papers and agrees
that they "look legal enough." He'll go out to get the boy as soon as he
freshens up after having been up all night chasing an outlaw that he never
found. An impatient McPherson wants him to leave right away, but Sheriff
Abbott tells him he'll have to wait and that he'll be going out to Shiloh
alone. Meanwhile, the Virginian drops by Claire's boarding house looking
for anyone who knows anything about Luke Callahan. She lies about not
knowing him and sends him on his way.

Later at Shiloh, Clay pleads with Sheriff Abbott to give the Virginian a
little more time to try to find Hoot's father. The sheriff reluctantly
gives him until the next morning. At the boarding house, Claire walks
in on Luke, who has been lying in bed drinking all night. "Is this how
you're going to pull yourself together, Bayo?" she asks. "I'm all right.
I'll be fine by tomorrow." he says. This IS tomorrow!" she replies; "Look at
yourself, Bayo. Just look at yourself" It's such a waste of a man! I wanted
to help, Bayo. It seems I can't." With that, she goes outside, finds the
Virginian and confesses that Luke Callahan has been living upstairs at her
boarding house. The Virginian says that nobody in town knows him. "Not as
Luke Callahan, but they know him," she says; "All the ladies turn the other
way at the sight of him. The boys laugh at him. The men poke fun at him.
He's the town drunk. Goes by the name 'Bayo'." "Bayo," repeats the Virginian
in recognition. "If you still want to talk to him, you're going to have to
shake him up a little bit to make him understand you," she says, "Get him on
his feet, please! Get him to stand up and walk!" As the Virginian heads over
to the boarding house, she says under her breath, "Dear God, make him walk
like a man!"

The Virginian tries to roust Luke out of bed by telling him that Hoot is at
the Shiloh Ranch and "there's nothing in this world he'd like more than to
see his father." "Not like this," protests Luke. The Virginian says he'll
give him time to clean up and shave but Luke still won't budge. "What's the
matter, Luke? Are you afraid of the boy?" asks the Virginian. Luke proceeds
to ramble on about how he always loved his son, but just needs time to
"straighten up a bit before I go see him." He says he'll be out to see him
"tomorrow or the next day." He rambles that he fell on hard times and couldn't
take care of the boy but that Hoot looked "real fine with that Grainger woman."
The Virginian tells him that Hoot escaped from a place that was "little better
than a jail" and that he'll have to return there unless Luke comes to get him.
Luke continues to protest, "You see the way things are with me now? What am
I gonna do with him?...When I get on my feet again, things are gonna be
different. You tell him that, huh? As soon as I get on my feet. And I'm
gonna send for him and that's a promise!" Luke reaches for the bottle, but
knocks it over. He walks to the stairway outside, presumably to go out and
buy another bottle, but drunkenly falls off the stairway and is killed.
Claire rushes to his side and weeps, "Oh, Bayo, you just couldn't be helped!
No way! No way!"

At Luke's graveside, Clay delivers a eulogy; "Not many of us here knew the
real Luke Callahan. We only knew him through his son. To that boy, Luke
was a giant named Bayo. A good giant. The best ever. Let's all try to share
that memory of Luke Callahan. It's probably closer to the truth than we'll
ever know." After the eulogy, Hoot stands at his father's graveside and says,
"Why'd you have to die, Pa? You said you'd send for me. You promised!"
Claire walks up and introduces herself to Hoot. She tells him that his
father was going to send for him but was waiting for the time when he could
care for him properly. "Your father was a fine man. He loved you very much.
Don't you ever forget that!" she tells him tearfully, "The trouble with him
was, he lost track of time," she adds, laying a bouquet on his grave and
dropping to her knees.

We next see Sheriff Abbott at Shiloh. He's reluctantly come to take Hoot
away and return him to McPherson. "If his father was still alive, it'd be
different," says the sheriff, "I'd tell him to take the boy and tell McPherson
to go to court if he wanted to. Now..." "Now he's an orphan, plain and
simple, and McPherson has a legal right to him," says Clay, "I'd just like to
know how the law got all turned around in this case to protect the guilty and
condemn the innocent!" Liz enters saying that Hoot took "Old Charley" out
for a ride but hasn't returned and is long overdue. "Where's McPherson?"
Clay asks the sheriff. Mark replies, "I left him in town. He could have
followed me out. He doesn't trust me any more than I trust him!" The two
men head out to search for him as the scene shifts to the trail where McPherson
is leading Hoot and his horse back to Colorado and gleefully saying, "Your
running days are over, Boy! You're coming back to stay for a long time."
As they're riding along, we see an image of Hoot superimposed over flashbacks
of earlier scenes which fondly recall his happy memories of Shiloh. McPherson
interrupts his daydream by saying, "Getting close to the border, now, Boy.
You'll be home soon!"

McPherson and Hoot are met at the Wyoming/Colorado border by Sheriff Abbott,
Clay, Trampas, Jim and the Virginian. They tell him they want the boy.
McPherson protests and says he'll take them to court, but Clay says he'd
welcome having the case heard in court because that way the judge can see how
he treats those boys of his and maybe ask him what he does with "the money he
gets from the state, instead of buying food and decent clothes." Not wanting
to see this information come up in court, McPherson voluntarily offers to
give up Hoot, but the Virginian says, "If you don't take Mr. Grainger to court,
he'll take you!" Sheriff Abbott adds that he can wait for his court date in
jail. "Jail? What for? You can't arrest me. You've got no charge!" exclaims
McPherson. Trampas and Jim then point out that the horse Hoot is riding has
a Shiloh brand and McPherson is committing horse theft by attempting to take
it across the border.

Back at Shiloh several days later, Clay is talking to Holly in the study when
Claire drops by. She wants to take custody of Hoot. "I know how much he means
to you, but he means even more to me. I tried to help his father, but I failed.
I'm not blaming myself and I'm not here out of self-pity or guilt. I loved
Luke Callahan. He made a promise to the boy. I'd like to keep it for him" she
says. Clay says that the boy "needs a man." She says that she's talked to the
sheriff and he's willing to help out in that direction so Hoot would always have
someone with whom to talk over special problems. "Well, it will be up to the
court to make the final decision. If they do turn him over to you, they'll be
watching to make sure you do a good job," says Clay. "Anyway," he adds, taking
Holly by the hand, "there'll be some of us pretty happy he's not too far away."
"He could come out here whenever he wants," says Claire, "in town with me, he'd
go to school the way Bayo wanted and he can grow up to be the man that his father
wanted him to be." "Well, I guess that's up to Hoot," says Holly, eyeing Hoot,
who has just entered the room with Liz. "How about it, young fella" Do you want
to make your home in town with your father's friend?" asks Clay. Hoot walks over
to Claire, smiles and takes her hand.[rho]

This is a very sentimental episode that can be quite a tearjerker at times.
The writer took a big chance by not going the obvious route of having a clean
and sobered-up Luke reunite with his son. He is truly and sadly a lost cause.
We also get to see some tender moments from the regular cast members;
particularly Holly in the scene where she gets Hoot to speak for the first time,
the Virginian in the scene where he serves Hoot a cup of coffee in the bunkhouse
and Trampas in the scene where he takes him fishing.

According to Bart, the bartender, Shiloh is "a couple of hours south of here...
on the main road. You can't miss it." [rho]  

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Main Contributors for this episode -  Robert Henry Ohlemeyer [rho]  & BJ Townsend [bj]