Goodbye Andy

 Posted by at 1:01 am  Nick's Blog
Jul 042012

America’s favorite sheriff, Andy Griffith, died yesterday at his home on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, and America is a little bit poorer today. No matter if you grew up in a big city, a small town, or were raised on a farm, is there anyone among us who didn’t feel like we were all at least part time residents of Mayberry? I know I did, and the entire cast of the Andy Griffith Show seemed like part of my extended family.

It was common belief that the slow paced fictional town of Mayberry was based upon Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina, which has embraced its favorite son with a museum, the Andy Griffith Playhouse musical venue, several stores and shops that recreate Mayberry businesses, and the annual Mayberry Days Festival in September. We visited Mount Airy a while back and found it to be a charming small town.

A statue of Sheriff Taylor and his son Opie stands outside the Playhouse.

Andy Opie statue 3

Mount Airy’s Main Street is a lot busier than when Andy and Barney Fife patrolled the town, but they are still cutting hair at Floyd’s City Barber Shop, as they have for over 65 years. The walls of the barber shop are lined with over 20,000 pictures of regular folks and celebrities who have sat in the old barber chair where Andy Griffith himself once got his haircuts, including Lou Ferrigno of Incredible Hulk fame, George Lindsey who played Goober on the Andy Griffith Show, and talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Look carefully, and you may find my picture on the Wall of Fame, too.

Floyd's Barber Shop

Next door to the barber shop, you can have a delicious pork chop sandwich at the Snappy Diner, which Sheriff Andy Taylor referred to in the television show. But go early, because they close in mid-afternoon!

Snappy Diner outside

At Wally’s Service Station, you can book a tour of the town in a police car that looks like the one Sheriff Taylor drove.

Police car 3

The station is an original service station built in 1937 and operated as a Gulf station, and then later became a Standard Oil and Esso station until the mid 1980s. Today the restored gas station is a souvenir shop offering all kinds of goodies to commemorate your visit to Mayberry. If your feet are tired from exploring, you can buy an RC Cola and a Moon Pie and sit in a rocking chair on the front porch for a while, just soaking up the Mayberry atmosphere.

Wallys Service Station

Next door, at the Mayberry Courthouse, they have a replica of Sheriff Taylor’s office, complete with the jail cell where town drunk Otis slept off his binges. This was Mount Airy’s real jail for many years and served as Mount Airy’s Municipal Building, which housed many city offices and the Mount Airy Police Department. As with most Mayberry attractions, admission is free.

Sheriff Office 3

Yeah, that’s me in jail. I hope Otis doesn’t snore.

Nick in Otis jail cell 

A few blocks away, the small house where Andy Griffith lived as a boy, until his high school graduation, is now a bed and breakfast, decorated with antiques from the 1930s and 1940s, including some original Andy Griffith memorabilia.

Andy Griffith home 2

The late Frances Bavier, who played Aunt Bee in the Andy Griffith Show, has a room dedicated to her memory at the Mayberry Motor Inn, located off of the Highway 52 Bypass. The room has a twin bedroom suite, which was a personal possession of Bavier, as well as other items that belonged to the actress, including gloves, eyeglasses, a handkerchief, a dress, a hat, a shoe kit, an attaché case, and sewing materials.

Andy Griffith was a mortal man, but the character he created will live on forever in Mayberry, where life goes on just like it has for over 50 years. I think I’ll find a rerun of the Andy Griffith Show and pay a visit to Mayberry. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate America’s birthday than spending some time in America’s quintessential hometown. Rest in peace, Andy.

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  19 Responses to “Goodbye Andy”

  1. Bravo Nick. That is the best article I have read on Mt Airy. We must visit there some day.

  2. Very nice writeup, Nick!! Can you believe we have been back here in NC now 9 years and have not yet made it to Mt Airy?? That is being just too busy!! But hubby is retired as of end of May…so maybe we will get there one of these days!!

  3. Nice write up Nick, Harold and i are heading that way in a couple of weeks. Might have to make a side trip.

  4. It’s well worth the trip, Elizabeth. Mount Airy was also the home of Chang and Eng Bunker, more commonly known as the Siamese Twins, and they are buried there. Many of their descendants still live in the area today.

  5. Very well done, Nick…Thanks!

  6. Yesterday morning I had just tuned into a Mayberry rerun on tv, and then I picked up my laptop and saw the news….. How sad! LOVE LOVE LOVE Andy and the crew in Mayberry! I have a bunch of their DVDs to watch (along with The Waltons) when I get tired of all the modern trash on tv! Rest in peace, Andy…. America loves you and your little town……

  7. An especially good blog and a nice tribute to the memory of Andy. That was back in the good old days when television was good family entertainment.

  8. Thanks Nick–great post! I loved watching Andy Griffith show, much better than any of the yuk on TV now days!

  9. Great post. We visited Mount Airy this spring (taking one of the squad car tours was not only fun but informative) and really enjoyed the visit and the town. Did you know that Andy’s characters were composites of folks he knew in Mount Airy? Supposedly, Otis Campbell’s name was from the first and last names of two different law enforcement guys who got a kick out of being in the program, and as part of a memorable character. We have since ordered the entire DVD series of the 8 years the program ran and are enjoying re-watching the shows.

  10. Nick I especially like the one with the rocking chair.
    I think your picture is on their post office wall as well.
    Great story, you know your heart goes into all you do. God bless, have a safe and happy 4th.

  11. Nick, was that Bad Nick in jail? Can’t believe it’d be you! What did Bad Nick do?

  12. I loved your tribute to Andy – he was a great comedian and actor and everyone fell in love with his role as well as Mayberry. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Love this blog post! It makes me want to whistle that tune…. you know the one!

  14. Great post Nick. Thanks for the current pictures. All I have are in my mind, from the TV show. Have put this location on my bucket list.

    Thanks for the memories Andy. You will be missed by many. RIP.

  15. Wow! Thanks Nick for such a terrific eulogy and tribute to a great American Icon on our nation’s greatest holiday.

  16. Good Blog Nick. We happened to visit Mt Airy just last week. We had the Pork Chop sandwich at Snappys and stopped in next door at Floyds Barber shop where they were cutting hair. It was a great visit.

  17. I am slipping your article and photos in a word document to save always… it is special and heartwarming… it has been a sad week for many of us – would love to visit his home town some day and see the statue, etc. Thank you, Nick!

  18. This is great stuff, Nick. Thanks for sharing!

  19. I miss andy so much.a another actor that pass away that I did’nt get to meet.But Life goes on anyway. I will alwase watch ‘The Andy Griffith Show’
    Rest in Peace

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