Memories of Andy Griffith

Posted In: Essays, Motivational

As Ramona Wiley once wrote to Barney (“Barney Beloved”) Fife, “the tears on my pillow bespeak the pain that is in my heart.” If you are like me, news of Andy Griffith’s passing left you shedding a few tears.

We camp because we want to simplify, slow down, and enjoy fundamental pleasures. In a way, this is what The Andy Griffith Show was all about. Who wouldn’t want to spend a few days in Mayberry? We could set up camp out by the lake (although we’d need to watch out for escaped convicts). If we needed supplies, we might go into town and visit Ben Weaver’s department store. We could grab a quick lunch down at the diner (where we’d finally meet Juanita). Our fancy cellphones might not work out at the lake, but in case of emergency we could always get Sarah on the land line.

Happy birthday, America. Rest in peace, Andy.

Along with many of my generation, I discovered The Andy Griffith Show in the 1980s. The Griffith show thrived in reruns. Heck, there was a time when the show was broadcast locally for three hours a day; at noon, at 5:30, and finally at 10:00. And yes, I know there were some people who caught all three hours.

During my college years, watching the show was a daily ritual for me and my friends. Every evening, we’d gather around the TV with our dinners and enjoy an hour of Andy.

What made The Andy Griffith Show so special?

The writing, acting, sets and even the music were phenomenal. But what made the show three dimensional were the characters. Andy, Barney, Aunt Bea, Opie, Helen, Thelma Lou, Otis, Gomer, Goober – and don’t forget Floyd.

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It was a comedy that did not rely on jokes. Most TV sit-coms rely on joke-driven humor. It’s much more challenging to create character driven humor. The Andy Griffith Show gave us brilliant characters, and stories that were rooted in love. Sure, there were moments of gut busting humor – but we kept coming back for the love.

I’m not talking about drippy sappy love, but rather the affection and kindness that people, in their best moments, demonstrate for one another. Andy Taylor treated Barney and Aunt Bea and Opie and his fellow Mayberry residents with love, and they reciprocated. Episodes were often little morality plays.

My favorite episode? It’s always tough choosing favorites, but one of mine is “Mr. McBeevee.” In this episode, Andy is forced into an uncomfortable parenting decision. Opie seems to be telling lies about an imaginary friend, and perhaps even using those falsehoods to steal. Andy must decide whether to support Opie, or administer discipline.

Of course I have many other favorite episodes. One truly incredible aspect of The Andy Griffith Show was not only its longevity (running for most of the 60s) but its volume. Back in those days, a season consisted of more than 30 episodes. Today, a season might have 13 or fewer episodes! The upshot is that there is a deep catalog of strong material here. My favorite seasons by far are the first five (a total of 159 shows), which are all shot in black-and-white.

Happy birthday, America,

Rest in peace, Andy Griffith.

What are YOUR favorite moments from the Andy Griffith Show? Favorite episodes?

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