Little House on the Prairie

Season 4 Episode 22

I'll Be Waving As You Drive Away (2)

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Mar 13, 1978 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
112 votes

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Episode Summary

I'll Be Waving As You Drive Away (2)

Charles brings a sullen Mary to Iowa so that she can study at a school for the blind. In Walnut Grove, financial crisis has come upon the town. The Ingalls and the Olesons and other families are preparing for the possibility that they will have to start a new life elsewhere.


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  • Mary is very unhappy when Charles takes her to a renowned school for the blind in Iowa but he is determined that she will receive the best care available.

    Mary, quite naturally, feels justifiably scared and angry when Charles leaves her, on the advice of doctors, at a school for the blind in order for her to learn to live with her new situation.

    Her progress is not helped by her anger, but her young teacher, Adam Kendall, who is blind himself, will have none of her self-pity and soon has her learning as quickly as she can. Adam keeps Mary's spirits up and encourages her all the way. Inevitably, the two young people fall in love and are sad when Mary is ready to return to Walnut Grove where things look dire for the whole town as the railroads threaten to take away their livelihood.

    It is time for Charles and his family to move to a new place, and what a better one than Winoka, where Adam is also going to work at a blind school there. With Walnut Grove now almost a ghost town, it seems that everyone may have to go elsewhere to survive.

    An excellent season finale, even if quite a bit was crammed into it and it seemed 'rushed'in places.moreless
  • A pivotal episode in many aspects.

    Mary adjusts to her blindness at a school in Iowa, and finds love and purpose in her life.

    I probably can't give this episode as high marks as people who also love the series, though I do think it was very pivotal for a lot of reasons, and it came on the heels of Michael Landon promising that the series would move along with some aspects that were touched on in the "Little House" books. As a whole, I would only rank very early episodes and a couple of others as standouts in the "9"s.

    This story is notable for following up on the heartbreaking events of part 1, where encrouching blindness takes its hold on Mary Ingalls. Early standout scenes mark the real pain of Mary feeling abandoned by Charles in a good acting turn by Melissa Sue Anderson. There are nice scenes of her learning how to navigate and excel in a world without sight. Perhaps a weaker element is the very fast relationship with her teacher Adam, perhaps softening the blow a little too conveniently.

    What makes this episode pivotal in my mind is its meaning for the series, a true transition point that I think marked an overall subsequent decline in the show (though some individual excellent episodes did air in the following years). Mary's return to Walnut Grove and her speech in front of the church's congregation is quite affecting. Walnut Grove itself is facing negative pressures from falling crop prices and questions of whether it can remain a viable community. Mary's words echo this change and re-inforce ideas of the human spirit in the face of tragedy and obstacles to overcome. Its interesting that if the "TV" Ingalls did move to other areas of the midwest/west (as they did briefly in season 5), it would have better reflected their true lives and the lives of people who lived as 19th rural residents.moreless
  • The silver lining to the dark cloud.

    When Mary lost her sight in the first of this two parter, she thought her life was over. Her parents sent her to a school for the blind, and she felt quite betrayed. Little did she understand what a terrible sacrifice it was for them. They felt awful sending her away, but they knew, in the long run, it was what she needed. Mary discovered very quickly that she would not be coddled at the school. Her private teacher began immediately by telling her to unpack her bags and settle into her room. Mary said "Unpack? I can't." As I imagine any young person (or old for that matter) who has lost their sight would do, Mary was, at first, beligerent and angry, but Adam (her teacher) pushed not pampered her. Before long, Mary was realizing that just because she could not see with her eyes, did not mean she could not see with her hands, her ears, her heart. Being blind was the not the same as being useless.

    While this drama is unfolding, the town of Walnut Grove is turning into a ghost town due to issues with the railroad. Everyone is leaving because there is no work. Mary falls in love with Adam (and he with her). When he tells her he will be leaving for the big city to open a school for the blind, he asks her to go with him and teach, and she accepts. Charles, out of work decides to move the family to the town, too. looks like life is changing for everyone.

    The Reverend's goodbye sermon was a tearjerker and had me sobbing. Isn't it funny how you can get so absorbed in a show as to feel like you, too, are part of the family?moreless
  • This two parter (or actually 4-parter) is my favorite of the Little House series.

    Melissa Sue Anderson should have won that Emmy she was nominated for! Her acting skills are never better than in these episodes. She portrays Mary's fear, bitterness, and anger, slowly turning it into hope, determination, and understanding. I love the fact that what she says in part one actually comes true: "Can they (meaning the blind school) make me a teacher? Can they help me see?" With the help of Adam Kendall, she learns to "see" in new ways, and she gets to be a teacher, just as she always dreamed! I never get tired of watching these episodes, they are the best of the series.moreless
  • After Mary goes blind, she is sent to a blind school where she meets a remarkable teacher named Adam Kendall.

    This is probably one of my, if not my favorite, episodes of Little House on the Prairie. I know a lot of people like Part 1 better since it has the actual going-blind and all, but I think this episode is much better. Adam is definitely one of the top characters. I love Adam. He's firm but fair, and teaches Mary all she needs to know. This episode shows the phases one goes through after a great loss only to finally reach acceptance. Obviously they would spend a lot of time making this episode work since it was originally intended to be the final episode of the series, but nevertheless it turned out fabulous. In fact, Part 1 and Part 2 combined would make a great movie by themselves if it wasn't part of a show. This isn't a filler episode or just another installment. Its a beautiful story of a 15-year-old girl who thought she had reached the end, but it was really just the beginning. Excellent script and incredible acting. Definitely one of my all-time favorites!moreless
Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Dabbs Greer

Dabbs Greer

Reverend Alden

Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Karl Swenson

Karl Swenson

Mr. Lars Hanson (1974 - 1978)

David Opatoshu

David Opatoshu

Taylor Nash

Guest Star

Linwood Boomer

Linwood Boomer

Adam Kendall

Guest Star

Peter Haas

Peter Haas


Guest Star

Merlin Olsen

Merlin Olsen

Jonathan Garvey

Recurring Role

Patrick Labyorteaux

Patrick Labyorteaux

Andy Garvey

Recurring Role

Hersha Parady

Hersha Parady

Alice Garvey

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (10)

    • Nitpick: Why would Mary's bedroom at the blind school have a big mirror in it? Yes, it's shown as part of a dresser, but mirrors on such pieces were (and still are) built and bolted on seperately.

    • There sure are a lot of rugs at the blind school. This would seem like an obvious tripping hazard for blind people, especially in a time when rubber "rug gripping mats" weren't available. In fact, the viewer can see a big wrinkle in the hall rug at the top of the steps outside Mary's room.

    • Notice that in the second to last scene, when Charles and Laura are playing with baby Grace from her crib, the baby's hair is clearly brown. Starting in Season 5, though, when Brendi and Wendi Turnbaugh took over the role, Grace had extremely blonde hair.

    • This is the first time that a season of Little House ends with a 2-part episode. Seasons 6, 7, and 8 also concluded with 2-part specials.

    • Coincidentally, Mary and her treasured childhood teacher Miss Beadle both ended up marrying men named Adam.

    • When Charles and Caroline rush to the blind school to tell Mary that they're moving to Winoka, they say it's the middle of the night, as you can see when they're in their hotel room. But when the buggy pulls up to the front of the school, you can totally tell that it's daytime--probably early morning, and drizzly. They didn't even try to make it look like nighttime.

    • Miss Beadle resigns as Walnut Grove's teacher after four years of faithful service on the show. She is the longest-reigning teacher that Walnut Grove had (at least from what we saw in the show), being there for almost half of the entire series.

    • Goof: In the final church scene, right when Mary is going up to read the prayer, the camera angle shows Charles helping Mary out of her seat, and you can see the row in front of them, where Laura and Caroline are sitting. Caroline is supposedly holding "baby Grace," but it's obvious that the Grace is a doll or some sort of fake. Look at the position of her arm. Babies sit in weird positions, but no two-month-old is going to hold her arm in that position, that still, for that long.

    • In the scene where Adam is going to teach Mary how to eat correctly, he says, "The students do the cooking, and one mistook the Cayenne pepper for the cinnamon." The exact same two ingredients were part of a hilarious plot in Season 6's Back to School, Part 1.

    • Part of the drama of this episode involves moving Mary from bitterness to acceptance of her condition. In fact, according to Laura Ingalls Wilder herself, the real Mary never said a cross word regarding her blindness.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Mrs. Simms: Mary, I want you to have this. (puts a brooch in her hand) It was given to me by my first teacher, and.....well, I've watched you grow up. And I'm going to miss you. I'm going to miss all of you.
      Charles: We'll miss you, too.
      (Mary reaches out for Mrs. Simms' shoulders and hugs her)

    • Laura: What are you going to do?
      Mary: I'm gonna write a letter to Adam, so he'll know when to expect us.
      Laura: With that?
      Mary: Sure. It's a Braille writer.
      Laura: Why don't you just write regular? It's a lot quicker.
      Mary: Because then somebody would have to read it to him.
      Laura: So?
      Caroline: Laura, maybe it's a private letter.
      Laura: (smiles) Oh, yeah.

    • Mary: The world isn't like the Burton School for the Blind. It's a huge dark place filled with hidden obstacles, and strange sounds, and voices coming from faceless people. Even you. I've never even seen you.
      Adam: Well then look at me. (He takes Mary's hand and runs it along his face.)
      Mary: (begins to smile) What color are your eyes?
      Adam: Blue.
      Mary: And your hair?
      Adam: Brown.
      Mary: Thank you, Adam.
      Adam: (He hesitates, and then speaks.) What do you look like Mary? I've never seen you, either.
      (There is a brief pause, then Mary smiles and brings his hand to her face. They both start to laugh.)

    • Adam: I miss you already.
      Mary: I know. A few weeks never seemed so long before. I'm really excited about the new school--and you. You know, it's funny how things change. I hated it here when I first came. Then I never wanted to leave here. Now it's just a whole new life. (touches Adam's face with her hand) I want you to hold you in my heart, Adam Kendall.

    • Adam: Good afternoon, Jenny.
      Jenny: Good afternoon, Mr. Kendall. Afternoon, lady.
      Adam: (to Mary after Jenny has walked away) Nice little girl. One of our best students. You should hear her play the piano.
      Mary: She was blind? But she said hello to me. How did she know I was here?
      Adam: Listen to yourself. All she had to hear was the sound of your footsteps and the rustle of your dress.
      Mary: I never thought of that. Her walk sounded strange.
      Adam: That was her crutch. She has a bad leg. There was a wagon wreck. Both of her parents were killed.
      Mary: And I used to think nobody suffered but me. (smiles) I'll be sure to recognize her next time.
      Adam: Right. Only do say "Hello". She can't hear you smile.

    • Man at Blind School: I'd like you to make your good-byes as brief as possible.
      Charles: But I thought I would spend some time with her. My train doesn't leave until 4.
      Man at Blind School: The time spent would only be painful for the both of you.
      (Charles walks into Mary's room)
      Charles: Hey, nice place you got here.
      Mary: (face lights up) Oh, Pa! Pa....I didn't know you were here.
      Charles: Well, I can't stay. I got a chance to catch an earlier train, so I'm going to be on my way.
      Mary: But I thought we'd spend the afternoon!
      Charles: I know, but, uh, this earlier train came up, and I've gotten a look at the place here. You're in good hands. Well, I better get going if I'm gonna make that train. Give me a hug. (hugs her)
      Mary: Pa, don't leave me here. Please don't leave me here.
      Charles: (fights back tears) I love you.
      Mary: Don't leave me here, please! (Charles breaks the hug and leaves)

    • Mary: I'd prefer to eat by myself.
      Adam: When you eat in the dining room, you can pick your own company. But for now, this is schoolwork, so you'll have to eat with the teacher.
      Mary: I don't like people looking at me!
      Adam: Why? Cuz you eat with your fingers? Nothing to feel bad about. Most folks do until they learn.
      Mary: Look, my parents didn't send me here so you could teach me table manners!
      Adam: Yes, they did. It's all a part of learning. Now, just because you're blind doesn't mean you have to eat like an animal!

    • Adam: All you think about is being blind. You happen to be a very capable person who just happens to not be able to see with her eyes. When are you going to get on with living?
      Mary: Get out.
      Adam: Pitying yourself won't help. Blind people are just as good or as bad as everyone else. You're not special!
      Mary: (throwing her dinner plate at the wall) I TOLD YOU TO GET OUT!
      Adam: (pause) That roast beef was good. You'll find some extra towels on the top shelf of the closet. This is your room as long as you're here. If you make a mess, you clean it up. See you in the morning.

    • Adam: Walk toward me.
      Mary: I don't want to.
      Adam: Do it, Mary! (she slowly stands up and starts shuffling toward him) Don't shuffle! Think of the people who will be watching you. Walk with confidence. Shuffling looks hopeless and sounds awful. Now, walk toward me.

    • Adam: (after Mary walks toward him) All right! All right! There, you see? It's not so hard.
      Mary: No. No, I don't see! That's the whole point. Who cares about all this? Who cares about walking across a room when there's nothing to see when you get there?
      Adam: I care, because it's my job to teach you. If I don't teach you, I don't get paid. So, you can sulk if you want to--for about five minutes. Then we're going to wash up and see if we can eat without throwing it.

    • Adam: I'll be waving as you drive away.

  • NOTES (6)

    • Mary Ingalls did attend the Iowa College of the Blind, but not until after her family had moved from Walnut Grove to Dakota Territory. She lived at the college for many years and came home for short periods of time.

    • After her blindness at age 14, the real-life Mary Ingalls attended the Iowa School for the Blind in Vinton, Iowa. Her actual stay was much longer than the few months' time depicted on the show, though. Her parents took her there on November 23, 1881, and she did not graduate until June 11, 1889, at age 24, meaning she was a student for 8 years. She was absent during the 1887-1888 school year, though, however, since it was such a difficult financial investment for her parents, and she needed to take some time off while they came up with more money.

    • Featured characters: The Ingalls family, particularly Mary

    • This season finale officially marks Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary)'s final full season as a regular cast member. She would go on to appear periodically in Seasons 5, 6 and 7, and only a few episodes in Season 8.

    • This is Linwood Boomer's first appearance as Adam Kendall. Boomer would go on to create and produce the tv series "Malcolm In The Middle".

    • This marks the last episode of Charlotte Stewart as Mrs. Eva Simms.