Born and raised half of my childhood in the Deep South throughout the ’60s, Sheriff Andy and the citizens of Mayberry became a very much-needed stable constant during those young turbulent years. Of course, I didn’t come to this conclusion until I reach pre-menopause adult status.Even now, watching Watching The Andy Griffith Show was like a visit with my grandparents and other family down in Mobile. When older, the re-runs on TV and much later on YouTube continued to provide as much entertainment and yearnings of a more pleasant, civilized time today as the show did then.
Griffith’s Sheriff Andy was to many, including me, a father figure. In my case, this became all the more confusing in that our own father and Andy looked, talked and acted like they were twins. Many times I thought the two were the same, which would explain my daddy’s business trips away. Try explaining THAT to a 5-year-old!
People often think the Andy Griffith Show was a representation of small town life during the 50’s or 60’s. But in fact, Andy Griffith claimed that the show was based more on the bucolic mores of the 1930’s, and consciously remained as such throughout it’s 8 year run, despite the havoc and crisis of the real world in the 1960’s. Perhaps, that was the secret “ingredient” to the show’s and Andy Griffith’s continued popularity. Moreover, like my father Andy was a fabulous story-teller. One of my favorite scenes tells the story of Romeo & Juliet when explaining to his son, Opie, why he couldn’t marry a couple due to a family feud.
That the show remained a top 10 favorite amongst viewers during this time and beyond is a testament to the writers, actors and producers of the show.
Now in my early 50s and living in SW France, I still enjoy the re-runs. It’s a real hoot to watch the show with my British and French friends. All are charmed by Mayberry, its people, their funny accents and particularly Sheriff Andy and his sidekick, Barney Fife.
Of course, the Sheriff was only an aspect of Andy Griffith in real-life, who was always quick to point out that the real Andy was far more complicated. Yet, in many ways, the town of Mayberry and it’s people reminds me a bit of life nowadays here in rural France. This part of France hasn’t quite caught up with the rest of the world, and like Mayberry, I hope it never does.
However, with the passing of Mr. Griffith yesterday, I feel as if I’ve lost my father all over again. Whilst sadden by his death, I like to think that Andy is strumming his guitar or sitting on the dock with a fishing pole ‘jawing’ with old friends and family in the afterlife. It’s that which makes me smile in memory of a remarkable person and gifted story-teller.