by Neena Strichart
Unless you have had no access to television, newspapers, radio, Internet or the company of others over the last few days, you have no doubt heard that beloved actor Andy Griffith passed away this past Tuesday, July 3. He was 86 years old at the time of his passing.
Although I Love Lucy has been, and always will be, my favorite comedy series of all time, The Andy Griffith Show is still my favorite all-around series. Talk about a well-rounded program! Some shows were funny, some were dramatic, and others were downright poignant and thought-provoking.
Each episode took us, the viewers, to visit the everyday lives and happenings of the folks who resided in Mayberry, North Carolina. Times were easier there and then (1960s), or at least they seemed easier to those of us watching. Life was quieter, folks were kinder to one another, and it appeared that every day life in Mayberry brought forth some type of meaningful lesson. The characters were genuine and were surely not like anyone we knew in real life.
Andy Taylor was known as “the sheriff without a gun.” He was also a loving father to son Opie and nephew to Aunt Bee. Barney Fife was the deputy who was easily rattled yet had a proven sensitivity and dedication to his job and neighbors.
Opie, Andy’s only child, was often portrayed to be a sweet child who was wiser than his years, (age 6 when the series began) especially when he displayed traits of honesty and compassion that would be more fitting of a much older individual.
Aunt Bee was a kind yet firm disciplinarian to Opie and a loving aunt/companion and housekeeper for her nephew Andy. Other characters included Andy’s girlfriend Helen Crump, Barney’s girlfriend Thelma Lou, as well as friends and neighbors Gomer, Goober, Floyd (the barber) Ernest T. Bass, Howard, Millie, Emmett, and of course, Otis– the town lush.
Many of my life lessons came from watching The Andy Griffith Show including the following:
1. Parents are human too– from the episode “The Horse Trader” (Andy tells fibs about an old, useless cannon when trying to sell it– after lecturing son Opie about honesty).
2. Be a good sport– from the episode “Opie Wins a Medal” (Opie learns about sportsmanship when he comes in last in a foot race).
3. Don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t– from the episode “Floyd the Gay Deceiver” (Floyd portrays himself to be rich in letters to a female pen pal, who suddenly decides to visit).
4. Careless actions can create tragic results– from the episode “Opie the Birdman” (Opie accidentally kills a mother bird with his new sling shot and must raise the babies himself).
5. Don’t tell secrets– from the episode “A Black Day in Mayberry” (A gold shipment is coming through Mayberry and Barney lets the cat out of the bag).
Thank you, Andy, for all you taught me. Rest in peace.
Private message for my friend Becky: “Somewhere, wandering loose around Mayberry, is a loaded goat.”