Mayberry – Where Are You?
Since television ran away from home, it’s been wandering,
searching, trying to find its way back…to Mayberry. These days, whatever I’m watching, I’m
I can close my eyes and smell the crayon in Miss Crump’s classroom.
I can smell the bay rum in Floyd’s Barbershop.
But when I open my eyes I see mostly mayhem.
And as Charlene Darling would say, “That makes my cry.”
From our weekly visits to Mayberry we learned tolerance for Otis Campbell’s weakness and for Aunt Bee’s pickles and we learned compassion from Opie’s misused slingshot and we were introduced to soft-love at Myer’s Lake.
The bumbling “Goobers” among us learned that we may still be
smarter than anybody when it comes to fixin’ cars.
Barney Fife, taking himself so very seriously, was a mirror reflection of most of us.
And Sheriff Andy Taylor understood.
Mayberry, where are you now when we need you so?
Those of us who grew up with patchwork quilts and square-head nails and gourd dippers would be considered poor by today’s ways of measurin’…
But how rich we were back home in Mayberry!
Might television ever find its way back to Mayberry?
Is the image of a father and son hand-in-hand going fishing too trite, too provincial for contemporary palatability?
One might think so, except that episodes remain evergreen in reruns after thirty-six years (now 54 years).
After all these years the bullet in Barney’s pocket still evokes a smile.
After all these years we recall the tedious front porch deliberations between Andy and Barney over which flavor ice cream.
City folks, intimidated, are seduced as drifters. Buddy Ebsen as a hobo was helped to discover his own conscience…in Mayberry.
Remember the impatient city visitor with “no time to spare” who ended up in the porch swing singing, “Church in the Wildwood.” Opie slept on the ironing board that night. “Adventure sleeping,” he called it.
Today we laugh at one another; in Mayberry we cared about one another. That was confirmed even in the way the writers wrote around Floyd’s incapacity.
An observation which this professional people-watcher considers most impressive is that everybody for whom Mayberry was home might have assumed by cynics to be play-actors.
Yet each in real life turned out real good. Aunt Bee remained in character until death did us part.
Whatever it was about that small town “Brigadoon” appears to have become an indelible influence on those who live there and on us who visited.
Television owes us. And that accruing debt will be amortized at least in part if it keeps Mayberry alive against the day when “behave yourself” and “love your neighbor” come back into style.
“Paul Harvey, Good day.” (From Paul Harvey News and Comment Radio Broadcast, 1996)