Archived Story

The legacy of Andy and Mayberry

Published 11:00pm Friday, July 6, 2012

The Andy Griffith Show was not part of my growing up years.

Actually, when the show came on television, I was already pretty much grown up and ready to take wings and fly. Now days, it’s called “finding yourself.”

If I had told my mama and daddy that I wanted to go “find myself,” I probably would have found myself on the doorsteps with my Samsonite suitcase packed and ready for the next Greyhound bus out of town.

While Andy and Barney were figuring out who would be the comic lead and who would be the straight man on the show, I was graduating high school and heading off to Troy State College on the much-used Rambler station wagon that Daddy bought for me to commute all the way from Brundidge to Troy. A tag to that is that when I graduated three years later, the station wagon was Daddy’s.

While America tuned into The Andy Griffith Show and Andy, Barney, Opie, Aunt Bee and all the Mayberry gang, I had flown the coop and was changing sheets and scrubbing toilets in guest cabins at Yellowstone National Park for $50 a month.

Daddy said my flight was a good introduction to real life. Mama said it took 10years off hers.

During the relatively long television run of The Andy Griffith Show, I graduated from college, got a teaching job, got married, went back to college to learn what I missed the first go-round, bought a trailer house as a first home and had a baby.

All of that I did without the Mayberry influence in my life.

But I didn’t need that vicarious Mayberry experience. I had grown up in Mayberry.

I had grown up at a time when children rode bicycles, chased lightning bugs, made mud pies and jumped rope. I went to the picture show on Saturday afternoons, cut paper dolls from the Sears Roebuck catalog and floated in the river on an inner tube. I picked up pecans for my spending money and licked the bowl when Mama baked a cake.

I slept with the windows open and played outside after dark.

I got a good switching when I needed one or when Mama just wanted to limber up her wrist.

I went to Sunday school every Sunday morning and Daddy read me the funny papers after Sunday dinner.

I could yoyo, spin a top, lasso a calf and drive a tractor. I was excited when the circus came to town and scared to death when the Gypsies came through.

I knew the value of a quarter. I had to pick a whole bucket of blackberries to get one.

I knew “heck” was a cuss word and to always say “thank you” and “please.”

When I went to bed at night, I said my prayers and thanked God for my family and all the good things He had given me.

I did not need to watch Andy Griffith. I lived the show.

Now, that I have reached the Aunt Bee stage and shape of life, I have the time and the inclination to sit down at 9:30 each night and watch The Andy Griffith Show.

I’ve seen every one of the 249 episodes and some of them a dozen times or more.

But most every one of them has a moral lesson to be learned. And Andy is the teacher. Whether it’s a hard life’s lesson he’s teaching Opie or his kind indulgence of Barney, there is something to be learned from the show. As my granny would say, it would be a “dose of good that every young’un ought to take.”

The Mayberry way of life may be a thing of the past but it’s a legacy that Andy Griffith leaves behind. What a way to go.

Jaine Treadwell is features editor of The Messenger. Email her at

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