Hearing the news of Andy Griffith‘s passing this morning hit me a little differently that a lot of folks. I’ve always compared my hometown of Haskell, Oklahoma to Mayberry. Mine was a small town with a population of 2,000. Mom was a stay at home mom, dad worked for the railroad, and my grandfather owned the corner drug store with a soda fountain, that made the best frozen limeade drinks in the world. He used a whole lime in the mix for each one and it only cost 15 cents. The characters on the show mirrored people I grew up with – in the best ways. They were caring, loving, and each had their own character. I was safe, protected, and monitored. It was a town in which if I even tried to skip school (where would I have gone in the first place?) there was an extended “family’ of 1999 others who would have asked me what I was doing out of class in the middle of the day.
The world has changed a lot since I grew up, even in Haskell, where a nearby Wal-Mart took a lot of the business from the small main street I roamed. There are no drug stores left, only one grocery store remains, and the five and dime where I used to buy my records is long gone. Thankfully the weekly newspaper, The Haskell News, still publishes once a week every Thursday, and I still get my copy every Monday to keep up with things back home.
For me the Mayberry Andy Griffith and the incredible cast created was more like a spinoff of a series I was very close to – my hometown of Haskell.
I almost feel like I’ve lost a member of the family, and in a way, anyone who watched the show and loved the people in Andy’s fictitious town has too. Rest in peace Andy…you done good.
This is my favorite episode titled Opie The Birdman. Opie is the main focus of the show, but it’s Andy’s sense of decency, fairness, and love of his son, that holds the entire plot together.
Stranger In Town was an episode that taught me to be kinder to strangers. I never forgot it.
I’m going to watch Andy as Matlock tonight. See him in Mayberry hits just a little too close to home for now.