The legacy of Andy and Mayberry

Published 11:00 pm 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.

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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