Mary's normally sparkling grades begin to plummet when she can't see the school blackboard.
Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder
Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)
Miss Eva Beadle/Mrs. Simms (1974 - 1978)
Charles Ingalls (1974 - 1982)
Caroline Quiner Holbrook Ingalls (1974 - 1982)
Carrie Ingalls (1974 - 1982)
It's pretty interesting that Nellie could immediately determine that she got the best grades in the school. As far as we know, Mrs. Garvey (from Season 5) was the only teacher who ever posted the children's grades on the blackboard publicly, and it's unusual that Miss Beadle would write on Nellie's card, "Oh, you got the best grades in the whole school!" I suppose stranger things have happened, but this still seems unlikely.
Even though one of Willie Oleson's most famous character traits involves being a goof-off in class, episodes like this prove that he gets pretty good grades--all B's, to be exact--and yet he doesn't manage to graduate until the tail-end of the final season of the series.
Notice the scene where Charles is walking to the house from the barn, and it is all foggy and appears to be very early in the morning. Then notice the very next shot, when Carrie is looking at him through the window, and the sky is all blue and perfect.
In this episode, Mary is ridiculed by her classmates when she starts wearing glasses. In real life, Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary)'s son Griffin had to get glasses as a child, although he didn't experience the teasing that his mother's character did on Little House. Still, in a 2005 interview, Anderson said that she wants Griffin to view this episode, because she wants him to understand how getting glasses can be difficult for some kids, and she hopes it will help him see why it is never okay to join in on such teasing.
Caroline: I've never believed in paying children for grades. Grades are a reward in themselves.
Harriet: Well, it must be working. Willie got very good grades, and Nellie, well, Nellie got the best grades in the entire school! How did your Mary do this time?
Caroline: We're proud of our children, no matter what their grades are. The girls do a lot of work around the farm! That's part of learning, too.
Charles: (about Mary's poor eyesight) How did she manage for so long?
Dr. Burke: Little tricks. Squinting when the eyes are tired. Did you ever see her push back on the sides of her eyes, like this?
Charles: She probably did. I just never realized it.
Dr. Burke: Well, with the amount of schoolwork she's had, the tricks just stopped working, that's all.
Charles: You'd think her Ma or I would have known.
Dr. Burke: No, not so. It's been my experience that parents are the last ones to notice. Maybe someday, they'll have the sense to examine kids before they start school. Then we can avoid the problem.
Charles: (looking at Laura's report card) Hey, you improved your reading grade!
Laura: Can't take much credit for that. It's mostly review words. Mary gets a lot of harder words.
Charles: Well, of course she does. Mary's older. You can always be proud when you move up a grade like that.
Laura: You can be proud if you work hard, even if your grades don't show it, can't you Pa?
Charles: You bet you can.
Caroline: (about Mary's poor grades) I wanted to talk to you before you saw Mary's report.
Charles: Why? Did you think I was gonna stomp and raise cane or something?
Caroline: No, I was just concerned. I don't know what accounts for it. She's always done so well, and she's really been working harder than ever.
Charles: Oh, I don't think we have anything to worry about. She's a smart student--takes after her mother.
Caroline: Oh, Charles! You know I'm no smarter than you are.
Charles: Yeah, I suppose you're right. I was smart enough to pick you, now, wasn't I?
Nellie: What took you so long, Mary? Trying to get Miss Beadle to raise your grades? What did she give you? I got 2 B's and 3 A's!
Laura: You'd have another A, Nellie, if they gave out a grade for being nasty! Come on, Mary, we don't have to talk to her.
Nellie: Willie and I are going to be very rich, because we get ten cents for every A, and a nickel for every B.
Willie: And I got all B's!
Nellie: That's 25 cents. But I'm going to get even more, because I got the best grades in the whole school!
Laura: My Pa says that grades aren't everything. It's the learning that counts. Even eggs get graded!
Charles: Hey, scholar! Let me see that certificate. Hey, that's pretty impressive. Congratulations!
Mary: (quietly) Thank you.
Charles: You don't look too happy for someone who just won an award.
Mary: (pulls glasses out of her pocket; starts crying) I didn't really lose them, Pa. I hid them. Nellie kept calling me Four-Eyes. I'm sorry I lied.
Charles: Yeah, I had a feeling it was something like that. Come here. That whole "sticks and stones" thing isn't true, is it? Names do hurt.
Mary: They sure do.
Charles: Yeah. But you've got the certificate, so no more tears, all right? Hey, if you keep studying, you will get to be just as good a teacher as Miss Beadle.
Mary: That's right, Pa. (puts on glasses) Just like Miss Beadle.
Mary: You know what, Pa? I just love my new glasses!
Charles: (smiles) And I just love you.
Charles: (about Mary) You should have seen her on the way home. It was like she was looking at the world for the first time.
Caroline: Oh, I'm so happy for her! She is going to be all right, isn't she?
Charles: The doctor said she'll be able to see twice as well with those new glasses.
Caroline: Twice as well?
Charles: Of course, I couldn't handle that. You're far too pretty to me just the way you are. I'll unhitch the horses.
Caroline: Oh, Charles!
Willie: Four-eyes, four-eyes, four-eyes! Mary has four eyes!
Laura: Be quiet, Willie!
Willie: But Mary has four eyes. Two real ones, and two glass ones. Four-eyes!
Laura: And you're gonna have two black ones!
Filming Locations: Filmed at Big Sky Ranch, Simi Valley and Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California.
Featured character: Mary Ingalls
Dr. Burke remained Mary's eye doctor for the next two and a half years, until she lost her eyesight at the end of Season 4.
This preludes the beginning of Mary's eyesight problems which get much worse in season four's season finale.
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