New schoolmarm Judith Timm has just arrived by wagon. Things get off to an awkward start when she asks what happened to the previous schoolmarm and gets no answer. This on top of a terse “Don’t Come” letter received before her trip make it clear, that was not the Welcome Wagon she came in on.
When Judith mentions having 17 children in her school, a couple of ubiquitous bitties are adamant that there are only 16. Judith says she remembers the sole titular brunette child because there are 16 blondes in the class. This is later seen to be clearly untrue, but it seems too be more of a casting faux pas than a plot point.
That night, Judith goes back to the school to put in a little overtime — as government workers, even on the frontier, are wont to do. From the looks of that chalk board, she could use a little more time in a classroom — and not at the head of it. Note the math on the first two problems.
The next night, she is burning the midnight oil again — literally. Oddly, the same math problems are still on the board behind her and have not been corrected. Again, the dark boy peers in the widow. This time, Judith confronts him outside. She has found that his name is Joel and he has been in the 4th grade for two years. She offers to teach him at night if he can’t come to class during the day, but he runs off again.
She believes Joel is the son of a local rancher. Upon visiting him, she learns that his son Joel was killed in a fall from a ladder at the school 2 years earlier. The father and others have seen ghost-Joel. Like a Milford Man, he appears but never speaks.
She goes to chew out the bitties for not warning her that the schoolhouse was haunted. They expect her to run off like the previous teacher, but she wants to see Joel again first. Also his father, as she pays him a visit that ends with a kiss.
She goes back to the schoolhouse that night where the same problems are still on the board like they’re waiting for Will Hunting to come by and correct them. Joel appears again, this time coming inside the classroom. While Judith reads Joel a story, his father peeks in the window at them. When he enters, Joel stares him down.
Judith and Joel’s father walk hand-in-hand back to his place, Joel following a few steps behind. When they get to the house, Joel’s father gives the whippoorwill whistle that they used as a signal. He and Judith hear the whistle returned, but Joel is back in his grave having united these 2 lonely people.
Well done, just not really what I was looking for.
- Twilight Zone Legacy: Directed by John Astin who was in A Hundred Yards Over the Rim.
- Producer Jack Laird once again put one of his kids in the show.