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Charles Ingalls was observing his wheat crop on his farm. The promise
of obtaining money was a reality happening for the Ingalls. The notion
of $2625 for the Ingalls Family was a dream for them to obtain new
clothes and new toys for their household. The only problem: a
horrendous hail storm severely wrecked their wheat crop; therefore,
Charles Ingalls had to return the horses to Lars Hansen. Charles
Ingalls had only one recourse: he had to travel one hundred on his worn
out boots in order to obtain work.
Along the journey, he met Jack Peters on his farm. Mr. Peters said goodbye to his wife and his son. They made camp during the journey to find work. While they made camp, Charles Ingalls met an unknown person -- named Jacob Jacobsen -- during the journey. Charles Ingalls received a surprise: a new pair of boots that were thrown in his direction. He was surprised (but grateful) for receiving these boots from Jacob Jacobsen -- despite not having the money to pay for them right away. Eventually, the three of them approached a quarry to obtain work. The purpose: the dangerous task of placing dynamite in the holes of the large boulders (all for the purpose of attaining smaller pieces of rock) after fulfilling a double jack operation. The double jack operation involved two persons (in a rotation basis) using a sledgehammer and a heavy nail to break the hole open for blasting purposes. They obtained the job for the purpose of being paid in a quarry.
In the meantime, the women in Walnut Grove were doing everything possible to salvage the wheat that was destroyed in the hail storm. Everyone would participate in the gathering of the wheat in the fields -- all for the purposes of gathering the wheat into bundles, separating and chafing the wheat into grains, and gathering the wheat and sending the wheat directly to the mill. Willa Sweeney was one person that griped about this task. She claimed everyone would go hungry because of a deficient wheat crop. The reality: all the families would be hungry if she worked in a lazy manner; therefore, Caroline Ingalls told her she needed to try harder if she wanted to succeed in this challenge. The women entered town for the purpose of obtaining mail and any letters they received from their husbands.
Charles Ingalls and Jacob Jacobsen won the contest in relation to the double jacking task. They obtained twenty-five dollars for winning the contest. They would receive their additional pay at the end of the week. Jack Peters was so excited about the two of them winning the contest. The fatal part: Jack Peters was standing in a pile of rocks that had dynamite underneath the boulders. The dynamite exploded suddenly. Jack Peters was blown to kingdom come. The boss gave Jack Peters' pay to Charles Ingalls. He would tell the wife that Jack Peters lost his life in a dynamite explosion; consequently, the son would be assuming full responsibility of running the family farm. One bright spot: Jacob Jacobsen's wife had given birth to a baby boy. Challenging And Dangerous!! A Solid 10 From The 1974-1975 Television Season!!
In this episode, we see Pa's first trip away from home. He had a huge
wheat field, which would bring his family a huge profit. In fact,
Charles made his girls figure out the cost and it was over two thousand
dollars! The price seemed a bit steep to me, but I don't know enough to
debate the issue either way. But like it happens to the Ingalls, they
lose the whole field in a hailstorm.
Pa must leave. His family will go hungry without money and he must find that work wherever he can. He's walking in boots that are falling apart, and meets the first of two companions on the road. His new friend, Jack Peters, offers him a piece of rawhide. Later that night when the two had settled around a roaring fire and were eating stew (though I doubt they would have been bringing along the fixings for such a meal), they meet their second companion. A big man by the name of Jacob Jacobson. While talking, Jack Peters tells them about a dangerous job that's open. They are using dynamite to blow up rock.
The remainder is merely them working hard and remembering their families whom they've left behind. Three go, but only two return. I'll leave that a mystery who doesn't get to go home to his family.
Meanwhile, Caroline comes up with a plan on harvesting the wheat the way Ruth did in Boaz's field. They work about as hard as the men, and obviously the children didn't go to school since all hands would be needed for the job.
The episode ends with a sad, yet relieved, tone as Charles has to deliver some sad news before going on home to kiss his girls.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Looks like it's gonna be a good crop this year. A hundred acres of
wheat just ripe for the harvesting, and at 75 cents a bushel, I'd say
the Ingallses will be sittin' pretty. They quickly set to work making
plans for their upcoming payday. Now, with things going as good as they
are now, you just know something bad is bound to happen. After all,
this is Little House and tragedy lurks around every corner. That night,
there was a fierce storm. Thunder, lightning, and even hail. As a
result, the wheat was destroyed. Charles took it surprisingly well,
though I can't say the same for the other local farmers. Mr. Hanson
understood their plight and wanted to help, but he was financially
unable to do so. The death of the wheat fields affected the mill to
virtually no end. Charles Ingalls, however, tried looking at the glass
half full and decided to venture out and look for work elsewhere, lest
the family starve through winter. Without a horse to ride, Charles made
the journey by foot, hence the title 100 Mile Walk, and to make matters
worse, his boots were almost worn through. On the plus side, it looks
as though Charles will have some company on this pilgrimage. Enter Jack
Peters, a kindly Australian, and another farmer, Jacob Jacobsen (yes,
that's really his name), who also turned out to be a boot maker and
gave Charles a new pair. Jack tells them he's going to a job in a
quarry, blasting rocks. It was hard, dangerous work, but it was still a
paying job and Charles and Jacob wanted in. Let's hope they all come
back in one piece.
Back in them days, they didn't have power drills or jackhammers, so to bore through a rock, one guy had to hold a stake while the other guy drove it in with a sledgehammer. Constantly was the fear of getting hit on their minds. After watching a demonstration of drilling, they meet the boss, Tom Cassidy, who puts Charles and Jacob to work right away, with Jacob holding the stake. But after a few pounds, they were able to change positions. Imagine how those men must have been feeling at that moment. Let's put it this way, whenever you hold a nail between two fingers and get ready to drive it into the wall, you know how worried you get about missing the nail and hitting your fingers with the hammer instead? Imagine the nail and hammer being twice as big and you're using both hands. So while Charles and his new friends put the fear of God in those rocks, Caroline has rounded up many of Walnut Grove's women (sans Mrs. Oleson of course) to harvest that sad crop of wheat. Just because it's ruined doesn't mean it should go to waste. However, all this prosperous work seemed to get in the way of Willa Sweeney's bitching. Why help if all you're going to do is gripe? Anyway, back at the quarry, Jack was put to work as a "powder-monkey", meaning he sets and lights the fuses that contact the dynamite that blow those rocks to pebbles. You couldn't hold back Jack for the world, he loved blowing things up. Day out and day in the men chopped away at those massive stones while back in Plum Creek, Caroline and the women bundled and threshed the wheat, which can't be sold but will certainly make enough bread to see them through the winter. Back at the quarry, Boss Cassidy held a drilling contest, with the winners receiving a $50 bonus. It was a grueling competition, but Charles and Jacob won because the script said so. Jack was so overcome with joy for his fellow drillers that he forgot about the lit TNT stick near him... Jack Peters was blown to bits, and Charles was requested to deliver his pay to his missus. He went about his task as Jacob was happily reunited with his wife and new baby boy. Upon finally returning home, Charles was greeted by his loving family, as they both had some really exciting stories to tell each other.
This one was really good. Well acted, well written and well directed. Michael Landon, Don Knight and Rick Hurst were excellent, and Jack and Jacob were very likable characters whom unfortunately didn't get to stick around for any more episodes. The scenes at the quarry with those men pounding the bores into the rocks is very cringe-worthy. You feel as though the guy with the sledge is going to hit the guy holding the stake at any moment. As I said, very well put together. This episode would be the first of many, many instances in which the crops fail and Charles has to seek work elsewhere. The plot with the dynamite would be used again in Season 3's "To Live With Fear" where Charles and Mr. Edwards blow away rocks to make a tunnel. That's a good episode too. If you like Charles, you like episodes where he goes on adventures to work his ass off to provide for his family and you like when stuff gets blown up then "100 Mile Walk" is for you. An all-around swell episode.
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