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I'll Be Waving as You Drive Away: Part 1 

Long hours studying by candlelight for the state teacher's exam results in tired, blurry eyes for Mary Ingalls, prompting a routine visit to the eye doctor; but when Charles is told that ... See full summary »



(developed for television by), (based upon the series of books "Little House" by) | 2 more credits »

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Episode credited cast:
Carrie Ingalls (as Lindsay Sidney Greenbush)
Carrie Ingalls (as Lindsay Sidney Greenbush)
Harriet Oleson (as Katherine MacGregor)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Robert Kenneally ...
Seth Barton (as Rob Kenneally)
Ford Rainey ...
Dr. Burke


Long hours studying by candlelight for the state teacher's exam results in tired, blurry eyes for Mary Ingalls, prompting a routine visit to the eye doctor; but when Charles is told that Mary's worsening sight is just the beginning of a much more serious problem, the concerned father can't bring himself to tell his beloved daughter that she will, most certainly, soon be completely blind. Written by shepherd1138

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Release Date:

6 March 1978 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Mary Amelia Ingalls (January 10, 1865 - October 20, 1928) had an illness at the age of 14 that was thought to be scarlet fever. However, based on firsthand accounts, school registries, newspaper reports of Mary's illness as well as epidemiological data on blindness and infectious diseases, a 2013 study published in the journal of Pediatrics concluded that it was viral meningoencephalitis that caused Mary's blindness. See more »


Charles calls Lars Hanson "Carl" when greeting him at the mill. See more »


Mary Ingalls Kendall: [the tragic moment, when Mary Ingalls awakens to discover she has lost her sight] Help me, Pa! HELP ME! Pa, I can't SEE! Hold me! It's dark! I'm scared, Pa! Hold me! It's too dark! I can't breathe!
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User Reviews

Hell in a Handbasket...
14 June 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is one really tragic tale. If what you've seen on the show so far hasn't been enough to rattle your nerves and make you burst into tears, this one just might. So it begins at school, Mary took it upon herself to ring the bell and assemble class, when Harriet ran up to inform everyone that Mrs. Simms is quarantined with the family because Luke had the measles, so no school for two weeks! Laura decides to go fishing, and sitting at the hole was the new boy in town, Seth Barton. He took a shine to Laura right quick and the two hit it off...until he met Mary. Laura was not pleased. But it stands to reason Seth would go for Mary, since she's closer to his age. Laura having a desire for older men would carry over later in the series when she meets Almanzo in Season 6. Back to this episode, Mary began experiencing problems with her eyes. She attributed it to studying too hard for her upcoming teachers exam, but at Charles' insistence, she went in for an eye exam. Dr. Burke performed a few tests, and everything seemed to be fine. Just a little eye strain. He recommended she wear her glasses more often.

According to the papers, the railroads were at war, so to speak. As a result, all shipments to Sleepy Eye and Springfield were on hold indefinitely, so the demand for seed dropped rapidly, which could spell bad news for the mill, and if the mill went under, so would Walnut Grove. Mr. Hanson dropped the bombshell that morning. So while Charles had that to worry about, Mary's eyesight seemed to be getting worse. They go back to Dr. Burke, who discovers Mary once had scarlet fever, which he deduces might be the cause of this. He told Charles the awful truth: Mary was going blind. He was devastated, and worse yet, there was nothing that could be done. He didn't dare tell Mary, but I think she's going to find out sooner or later. That night, a fire broke out in the house, due to Mary having accidentally dropped a lantern. Charles struggled with his burden and for the life of him couldn't figure out how to tell Mary about her condition. He confided in Reverend Alden for guidance. According to him, it's all God's will. So he finally was able to tell his daughter the awful truth. She was beside herself. Now some of you may be wondering what became of Seth? Personally I wasn't, but for those who want to know, he wanted to see Mary again. He found Jonathan at the mill, shutting it down. Yep, this was the beginning of the end for Walnut Grove. The bank shut down and the blacksmith was gone too. It was there that Jonathan told Seth about Mary. Well, folks, the next morning, Mary Ingalls woke up into a world of darkness. The most tragic scene in this entire series. There are really no words that can do this scene justice, it's THAT powerful and dramatic... and after that, Mary had pretty much given up on life. She refused help from her family, and she furiously blew up Seth, scaring the oaf away. Doc Baker had a solution: schools for the blind. The best one around was in Iowa. Mary tearfully begged not to be sent away, but Charles and Caroline knew it was for her own good. So in Part II, Mary heads off to Iowa, but I have the feeling it won't be so bad.

So ends Part I, which sees Walnut Grove and Mary spiral downwards to Hell, but perhaps they can be saved? This is probably the most gripping, dramatic episode of Little House on the Prairie, and I know I said that "May We Make Them Proud" was the grand champion, but unlike that episode, this one is based off of real life events. The real Mary Ingalls did lose her sight, but unlike her television counterpart, she never married or had children. She lived at home until her death in 1928. I understand Melissa Sue Anderson was nominated for an Emmy for her performance here, and I think she should have won. She was magnificent in that role. Also good were Michael Landon, Merlin Olsen and Dabbs Greer. Why this show didn't get more Emmys is beyond me. Anyway, while I wouldn't really recommend this episode because of it's heavy dramatic nature, it's still very well put together and deserves a viewing.

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