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July 6, 2012 / hippiechickamblings

All Hail, Mayberry!

Okay, call me a weenie, call me pathetic or silly if you want, (Lord knows I’ve been called worse), but this week, when I learned of the passing of Andy Griffith, I felt like my heart had been ripped out. I didn’t just feel sad. I’m talking choked up, streaming tears, gut-clutching grief. Why, I wonder? Why such a crushing, emotional reaction to the death of a “celebrity,” someone I never met or knew? Then, again, maybe that last part isn’t entirely true. I DID know him. He allowed me to know him, along with millions who grew up when I did, and millions more who followed. We watched, week after week as he walked the streets of Mayberry, keeping the peace and raising his son as a single dad. We grew to know him every bit as well as we knew our own family.

Sheriff Andy Taylor WAS Andy Griffith, in every way that counted, and on his watch, Mayberry was the place we longed for, a place where the pains of life were soothed on the front porch with a guitar, and the most soul-wrenching problems could be solved at the fishing hole. I read somewhere that while Mayberry scenes were set and taped in the 1960s, the mores, values, guts, and foundation were deliberately 1930’s. Was America’s heart at its best during this time? Possibly.

I’ve heard some poor, misguided souls criticize Mayberry on the grounds that it’s pure “fluff, empty escapism with no basis in reality, and may be potentially damaging to the psyche. Now, I would love to interject my opinion on this theory, but I’ve never been big on swearing. I will, however, strenuously disagree on all fronts. Mayberry was all kinds of real, gritty even. Just like any small town, it had its dark side.

Sheriff Taylor did his best, and no one could fault him for enlisting the aid of a street-savvy, battle-hardened deputy:

But, even the combined wit and skill of two of the best law men in the country had its limitations against Mayberry’s seamier underworld. There were menacing punks:



Ladies of questionable repute:

Temptations for the most faithful of husbands:

Unmentionable attractions:

And even pill pushers:

In the end, Sheriff Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife met these hideous challenges without hesitation, and no matter how tense the situation became, they remained cool and collected, triumphed over evil, and proved that right and truth are better (sometimes  with enough time left over for a plate of Thelma Lou’s cashew fudge).

Publicity photo from the television program Th...

Publicity photo from the television program The Andy Griffith Show. Pictured are Don Knotts (Barney Fife) and Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)













In Mayberry, there was always enough time for a cup of coffee, a chat at Floyd’s barber shop, fried chicken after church on Sunday, and a porch sit-down with a bottle of pop. Dads made time for their kids, listened to them, disciplined them, even when it would’ve been easier to let it ride. Outcasts were welcomed, and lawbreakers were apt to wind up in a jail cell as comfy as Mom’s sofa.

Week after week, Mayberry’s citizens, under the wise guidance of their sheriff and the comic antics of his deputy, taught us some of life’s most poignant lessons: Don’t be too full of yourself. Always tell the truth, but if it’s apt to wound another, a little sugar-coating won’t hurt nary a bit. Don’t back down from a bully. Right is right and wrong isn’t.

Mayberry was a slice of pure Americana, and will stand the test of time as a symbol for all that is good and right within the human spirit. It’s appeal is timeless, a monument to a golden age of our history when neighbors were truly neighbors, and we were our brothers’ keepers. You can’t visit Mayberry and leave without a bit of wistfulness and longing in your heart. You can’t go there and not feel good. I’ve heard it said that America’s innocence died in 1963 with the Kennedy assassination. I think it died July 3, 2012, with the last of Mayberry’s life’s blood gone. Good-bye Andy. I may not have met you, but I knew you, and to know you was to love you. Rest in Peace, Sheriff. Mingle your beautiful voice with those of the angels.




Leave a Comment
  1. Wonnie / Jul 7 2012 10:16 am

    Andy’s own eulogy could not have been more beautiful then the one given here. You have the ability to capture and put into words the exact spirit of the situations, Debbie. Please continue to hone your wonderful talent. It will pay off someday.

    • hippiechickamblings / Jul 7 2012 10:44 am

      You just made me cry again! i gotta stop doing that! Thank you for those kind words. You have been my biggest supporter, not to mention the truest of friends. i love you, Girl.

  2. annie / Jul 19 2012 8:28 pm

    Written like an expert,I must say!

  3. hippiechickamblings / Jul 22 2012 11:26 pm

    I don’t know about the expert part, but your kind words touch me. Just the fact that you took the time to comment means more than you know, and says more about you than your words say about my post. Thank you, dear friend. You are appreciated!

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