Today Andy Griffith died. He was 86 years old. To many, he was the television icon best known for his starring role in the 1960’s classic, The Andy Griffith Show, which first aired in 1960, the year I was born. The Andy Griffith Show captured a feeling of a time when people left their doors unlocked and walked down the street with a hello to everybody. The Andy Griffith Show, with its warm setting, familiar characters, small town values, and timelessness has worked its way into American culture like no other show in history.
People know me as a huge fan of the show and a true Mayberry junkie. Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a collection of books, memorabilia, DVDs, Mayberry trading cards and cookbooks, autographs, TV scripts, Andy and Barney bobble heads, and of course the Mayberry Christmas village. I even have a Mayberry Union High letter jacket. But I’ve got more than a few collectibles. I’ve got an appreciation for the values that defined my second hometown, Mayberry, North Carolina. The striving, the pressure, the disenchantment that marks the search for today’s American dream was nowhere to be found in Mayberry. Of course, there were goals to be met and dreams to fulfill, but their achievement was accomplished with integrity, dignity, and above all, fairness and respect. From our weekly visits to this small town we learned tolerance for Otis Campbell’s weakness and we learned compassion from Opie’s misused slingshot. The Goobers among us learned that we may still be smarter than anyone when it comes to fixin’ cars. Aunt Bea taught us kindness and patience while Floyd the Barber instilled a humorous curiosity. Barney Fife, taking himself so seriously, was a mirror reflection of most of us. And Sheriff Andy Taylor always understood.
Over the past several years I have conducted a series of “life lessons from Mayberry” during our adult forums at the Northfield United Methodist Church. We watch a few clips from an episode or two and talk about the values and lessons that draw us to the reruns we still find with a turn of the television dial. I still watch the Andy Griffith Show every chance I get. Tonight… I will sit down with my two daughters and my 7 year old son, Griffith….pop in episode number 77, “Man in a Hurry” or another classic from the show and share with my son how his mom and I came up with a name like Griffith.
We will miss you Andy.