“Come sit a spell, take your shoes off…
While working extensively on my genealogy and blog sites over the past two weeks I had an epiphany–If I were asked to describe my life and times growing up what would I say or write? Immediately, it came to me: Mayberry and its mostly good family, friends, and times–like Sheldon Leonard created on the”The Andy Griffith TV Show of the 1960’s.
Andy and his Mayberry community were accepting of everyone, despite some intermittent comedic moments, tears, troubles, and strife, that paralleled real-life situations.The stories and takeaways about their intertwined relationships never disappointed and always set high standards for supporting and getting along with each other, whether it be just “sit’n a spell” to talk, listen, or just being present to share and help when needed.
Yes, we lived in small towns–not necessarily country– but not big cities or fancy suburbs. I had a rather large extended family when I was Opie’s age, with some significant losses beginning at age 8 with my paternal grandfather and again when I was 14-16. My maternal great-grandfather passed at age 98 and my maternal uncle at 37. But, my maternal grandmother, grandfather, and uncle were really my idols and my rocks, like Opie’s Aunt Bee and even Deputy Barney Fife. You know the saying, “It takes a village…” Well, that’s what families did when I was growing up. We all pitched in–not just on special occasions, but when one was down, or in need, the others without pause or question pitched in to fill whatever gap had opened up.
Out of curiosity, I looked online and happily found probably the best TV “Reunion Show” ever made! No, it was not a new episode with scripted roles of former cast and characters. Rather, it was members of this TV family just “sit’n a spell” once again to reflect back on those ‘good old days,’ (on and off the set), pretty much as I am doing now with you. Remember Opie? He’s the little boy who went on in real life to become one of the best of Hollywood’s celebrities, directors, and producers? Yes, I’m referring to Ron Howard, whose story is one of only a few where a child actor survived childhood stardom and Hollywood’s temptations. I’m thinking that that little town of Mayberry and those lovable and supportive characters on and off camera had a little something to do with his grounded personality. And yes, I know he had a real, loving, and supportive family, but he spent much of his time in Mayberry. In fact, he says today that he thought of Andy as his uncle.
In their 2003 reunion, Andy talks with all his former family and cast members. In the beginning, Ron Howard walks with Andy Griffith on the road that opened the show, he whistles the theme song and then skips a rock into the ‘old fishing hole’ just as his character did on the show when it first aired on October 3, 1960. Next, others join in in a reconstructed courtroom set to chat awhile more about the show and how this experience affected their lives and how others still remember and react to them. Barney (Don Knotts), Jim Nabors and Rodney Dillard sit in a courtroom set Archive footage is shown of their favorite moments and of those who have died that were part of the show. After they finish talking they all hug. Andy Griffith turns the lights out and the show ends.
If you have a moment, I’d like you to “sit a spell,” “take a load off,” a remember those “good old days” with me.
Y’all come back now, real soon, y’hear?”