I was but a young lad of eleven when the Andy Griffith Show arrived on television with a comedy that kept us laughing. The Andy Griffith Show was a favorite in the Moore household of the 1960s. The picturesque town of Mayberry seemed like something out of East Texas.
Andy played affable, easy going sheriff Andy Taylor. He used home spun wisdoms and his good natured personality to resolve most problems in the community. His loyal but wired too tightly deputy sheriff was played by actor Don Knotts, whose herky, jerky movements and bragging ways were his stock in trade. Because of an incident with a gun, Andy required Deputy Barney Fife to keep his gun unloaded, carrying with him a single bullet in the pocket of his shirt, just in case the occasion arose where a bullet was required. Then and only then would Sheriff Taylor allow Deputy Fife to load his gun.
Barney Fife was extremely nervous and awkward, which played well against Andy Taylor's cool, unflappable demeanor. Both had girlfriends, with Andy having the more attractive of the two while Barney's girlfriend, Thelma Lou, was more fitted to his less alluring features. She was cute enough, especially considering the Don Knotts' character was not a handsome man.
Child actor Ronnie Howard, who would become the star of Happy Days and go on to be a very successful film director, provided a charming and sincere son - Opie - to Sheriff Taylor. His questions to his father, whom he called "Paw," usually led to great insights and homegrown humor by the latter.
Weird, agitated, Floyd the Barber was a regular character. Both the town gossip and the town's designated worrier, Floyd the Barber was ever chatting about the latest scandal or mini scandal in town. Every story he told was uttered breathlessly, as if its telling was revealing something deeply meaningful.
Actor Jim Nabors played local gas station worker Gomer Pyle, whose "well, g-ol-ly," would become a catch phrase for his character. "Sha-zam, Andy" was another. On the one hand, Gomer came across as not playing with a full deck. On the other, he showed some gentle wisdom.
No recitation of Mayberry characters would be complete without paying homage to Aunt Bee and Otis, the town drunk. Aunt Bee, a pleasant but tough minded woman who made pies that seemed to be in high demand, lived with Andy and his son. She was about the only character who could lecture Andy on his proper path for a variety of personal matters. Otis was the lovable town drunk, who would arrive drunk at the jail to lock himself up for public drunkenness. The Sheriff left the key where Otis could let himself into the jail, lock himself in a cell, and hang the key up on the wall just outside the cell.
Mayberry was a fictional place where nothing bad ever happened, where good people visited with each other, where locals gossiped about everything, and where we got our funny bone tickled each week.
Actor Andy Griffith died this week. I thought a stroll down the memory lane of Mayberry in the 1960s would be a fitting tribute to him. His role in bringing that fictional but funny place to life is reason enough to honor him.
© 2012, Jim “Pappy” Moore, All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his firstname.lastname@example.org