Looking back at Mayberry & The Lions Head

Published 6:22 pm Friday, March 10, 2023

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Finding a sack of tomatoes hanging on the doorknob, a dozen yard eggs behind the screen door or a mess of turnips in a sack on the steps is not unusual when you live in Mayberry.

But a New York Times newspaper stuck in the backdoor? I scanned the “Times” but found nothing of interest. Later, I bumped into local artist Ronald Godwin in town. He asked if I found the newspaper he left in my door.

What had I missed?

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The article about the closing of The Lion’s Head Tavern, Ronald said.

Why in heaven’s name did he think I would be interested in a tavern in New York City? I’d never even heard of The Lion’s Head.

Ronald explained that, for 30 years, The Lion’s Head Tavern in Greenwich Village was the city’s premier watering hole for editors, reporters, columnists and photographers from the city’s mainstream newspapers – The New York Post, The New York Daily News, The New York Herald Tribune, New York Times, Newsday and the Voice.

“Those who frequented The Lion’s Head included the famous names from the worlds of literature, politics, music and art,” Ronald said.

“And, why would I be interested in any of that?”

Simply put, they, all of those great wordsmiths, read “The Brundidge Banner,” our little eight-page, down-home newspaper that Daddy called The Brundidge Excuse.

Just the thought of the Banner being passed among the literati was embarrassing.

But, Ronald said they didn’t read “The Banner” in a condescending way.

He told how those literary minds would cluster around him when he entered The Lion’s Head with a folded “Banner” under his arm. He told how they were all eager to hear who had been to the doctor that week but is feeling much better now, whose sister was visiting from over in Georgie and that Charlie and Chan had Sunday dinner with their grandmother. He told how they looked forward to the society news from “The Quilting Ladies” who shared local news, recipes and bits of gossip every now and then.

“They loved to read the stories about local folks,” Ronald said. “They found ‘The Banner’ refreshing. They loved its small town, personal flavor. And, I think they all wished they could be a part of a town like that. Deep down, that’s what most of us want.”

Well, Ronald was right in thinking that I would be interested to know about the closing of a famous tavern in New York City where some of the brightest minds in the business had read and appreciated “The Banner.”

Even today, I smile thinking that Ronald’s Sculpture Park next to the car wash and across the street from the Piggly Wiggly in Brundidge would be right up the alley of those great literary minds and they might even shop “the Pig” for a jar of pickled pigs’ feet to take home to New York City.

(This column is dedicated to the memory of the Quilting Ladies of Hamilton Crossroads Church of Christ. They are missed.)