I miss Mayberry
In my family, some of our best conversations and heart-to-hearts occur when we are travelling in our van. It is also the place where I glimpse what is going on in my children’s world by listening very carefully to their backseat chatter. One such time occurred when I had a van full of boys and one sweet little girl. It was quite a few years back, but I remember the moment as if it happened yesterday.
My sister-in-law’s family along with my mother-in-law came on a surprise visit to be at our house when my husband earned his MBA. Following the afternoon graduation, I took my kids and two of my nephews swimming at the YMCA. It was a December graduation; so, it was quite cold when I loaded all the kiddos in the van for the short trip home.
While we were waiting for the van’s engine to warm up a few minutes, a conversation started regarding funny television shows and movies. There was quite a repartee regarding which shows a group of elementary boys thought were funny. They swapped funny scenes and eventually everyone settled on their favorites (although not a single one of them agreed). Ah, boys! But what was note-worthy was a small declaration from a sweet little red-head in the back-seat. “Hey guys, do you know who the best comedic actor in the world is?” No answer came from the peanut gallery, and even I was stunned that he knew the word, comedic. Finally, he gave us his answer, “Don Knotts!” I had to chuckle from the front seat, because I knew the origin of that comment.
The previous summer we had visited my grandmothers, and Mama (pronounced maw-maw) Cloie gave my kids all of her videotapes and DVDs of “The Andy Griffith Show”. Once back home, we watched every one of those episodes. Each show caused my kids to erupt into peals of laughter – sometimes we laughed so hard we had tears running down. Reed, in particular, had his funny bone tickled in every watching – often watching particular episodes over and over again. For Andy Griffith fans, think exploding goat!
At the time, I don’t think I ever really appreciated what that show and Andy Griffith meant to my family. I fondly remember watching Andy, Barney, Opie and Aunt B every night when we had supper growing up. I have always been a nostalgic romantic loving anything involving simpler days and times, and Mayberry was one of those places that my imagination could easily appeal that desire. Later when I lived with my Mama and Papa in graduate school, our afternoon routine involved the recapping of my day at the chemistry lab while watching “Matlock”. So Andy (and later Ben) has always been a part of my family’s culture.
Many conversations centered around the various lessons that Andy’s friends and family needed to learn. Of course, always present was Reed’s infectious giggle especially when the conversation steered to something that Barney (or the oafish Otis) did. My family alone could give testimony to the show’s timeless appeal. How many shows today could hold the attention of four generations – at the same time. Despite having aired originally in the 1960’s, the characters drew in my little boys more than forty years later. With all the other noise on television today, I loved that my boys were just as enamored as I with the simple, but honest relationships that Andy shared with everyone in Mayberry.
With the passing of Andy Griffith, I was deeply saddened. I wanted to curl up on a front porch with ice cold Coke in a glass bottle and one of Aunt B’s famous cakes or pies. If I use just enough imagination, I can picture a sweet little redhead hand-in-hand with the legendary sheriff as Andy got a VIP tour of the best fishing holes in heaven. Over the clank of fishing rods hitting the pail, I can hear the soft tune of the two of them whistling.