A new train full of greenhorns is formed in St. Louis. Samuel Evans and Humphrey Pumphret are typical examples. Although Major Adams gives explicit details on what supplies to take, as usual the greenhorns don't listen and the merchants take advantage of them. Samuel is a dedicated bachelor traveling with his aunt but Humpphrey's daughter Melanie catches his eye. The members of the train go by riverboat to St. Joseph where they learn how to handle their wagons and break in their new horses. The men have to quickly learn how to handle problems they encounter. The relationship between Samuel and Melanie takes a turn when it appears Melanie contracts cholera and Samuel decides to stay with her. As Adams knows will happen, the greenhorns develop into people able to handle the roadblocks in front of them on their way west. Written by
Ellen Corby plays Mickey Rooney's Aunt Em in this episode. Rooney had previously starred in a string of films with Judy Garland, who starred as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy lived with her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. See more »
The reference by Samuel T. Evans (Mickey Rooney) to the Boer War seems premature since the first Boer War wasn't fought till 1880 -- several years after the time of this particular wagon train. See more »
Samuel T. Evans:
Aunt Em, I never realized the human body had two hundred bones until today when I cracked every one of 'em.
Did you pick any names for the horses, Sam?
Samuel T. Evans:
Yeah, I sure did. But none a lady can use.
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Mickey Rooney as Sam Evans popped up unexpectedly as one of the said "greenhorns", originally from Philadelphia. He plans to start a weekly paper in Sacramento. He is accompanied by his Aunt Em (Ellen Corby). Byron Foulger plays Humphrey Pumphret, fellow greenhorn, who is accompanied by his young son and grown daughter, Melanie.
This episode works on two interesting levels. On one level it talks about many things - almost like a documentary - that the members of the wagon train must do and learn in preparation for their journey across the continent. Too many supplies and they must scatter extra food and maybe even precious belongings as their horses will not pull that much weight. Not enough supplies and they could starve to death. They have to learn how to handle their horses and their wagons as an individual and as a member of the train. They also need to familiarize themselves with the different parts of the wagon and wagon repair.
On the second level, it is the story of one particular greenhorn, the previously mentioned Sam. There are humorous moments - Sam buying a western outfit that is so gaudy he looks like he belongs in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. There are serious moments - as a 30-something bachelor he has a conversation with himself as to whether or not he loves a young woman he met on the wagon train and what does he exactly intend to do about that, and then he learns he could lose her to cholera before he has had a chance to speak up. Mickey Rooney handles the job like the pro he always was.
I'm giving this a perfect score as I do not know how it could have been any better. Interesting factoid - Even though Ellen Corby plays Mickey Rooney's aunt and they appear to be a generation apart, in fact Ellen Corby was only nine years older than Mickey Rooney.
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