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July 10, 2014

Why did the icon cross the road?

By Cindy Phillips posted Jul 11, 2012

Well golly, another icon has crossed over. Not across the road though. Andy Griffith joined the growing list of superstars who have left this life. Seems to be happening on an all-too regular basis these days. The people who impacted our baby boomer lives are reaching the end of theirs. The bucket list is looming which was probably the impetus for my hiring a personal trainer last week.

Though some may think of Matlock, No Time for Sergeants or even his singing career, we Boomers will best remember Andy for the aptly named The Andy Griffith Show. Our local TV station still shows the reruns every day, and it is easy to get sucked in when flipping channels and stumbling across an episode. Of course true fans know the only good ones are the black and whites.

Like so many of the television shows from our childhood, as I watch them now I often cringe at certain scenes, shaking my head and saying out loud, “They would never get away with that today.” I guess we have come a long way baby.

So what are some of your favorite memories of the Andy Griffith show? No cheating by googling it. Just close your eyes and see what comes to mind. Here are some of my recollections.

Barney Fife, the most inept deputy in law enforcement, though he did have a heart of gold. Andy wouldn’t allow him to keep his gun loaded out of fear there would be an accidental shooting. We saw Barney as skinny, goofy and lacking social graces. Barney saw himself as intelligent, debonair and a true ladies man. Though he courted Thelma Lou for many years, I also seem to recall him singing “Oh Juanita”. Always ready to crack the big case, Barney relished his life and position in town.

Andy was the ultimate gentleman. Though he appeared to be a homebody who always put family first, why he remained single always boggled my mind. And what was the mystery surrounding the absence of Opie’s mother? Of course I do seem to recall a marriage discussion between him and Helen Crump. Helen wasn’t ready to give up her career as a school teacher. Really? She couldn’t work and be a wife? How long ago was this?

Goober and Gomer. Gomer and Goober. They were interchangeable. Social goons, but they could fix anything on a car. No matter how complicated the repair, those boys could make it happen with a few hand tools and some elbow grease. That is after they waited for the part to arrive from Mount Pilot.

Floyd the barber. If he was so good at his trade, why did people need to go back for a haircut at least once a week? But if you needed to know what was happening in town, a visit to the barbershop was all that was required. Sit down for a game of checkers, or get yourself a shave, and you left the shop knowing all you needed to know. Hmm, can we say Charlie’s Water Wheel?

Howard Sprague. Geez, another bachelor. Wasn’t any man in that town married? Remember when Howard decided to move out of his mother’s place and get a bachelor pad? Hanging beads and all. And remember when Howard decided to leave the rat race of being the county clerk to move to a Caribbean Island? After a few days of fishing, lying on the beach and being alone, he came to the conclusion that being the county clerk was much more exciting. Though everyone else in town thought Howard was the worst athlete and a jinx at the fishing pond, he proved them all wrong by winning the bowling tournament and catching Big Sam, the elusive bass.

Speaking of bass, how about Ernest T the rock-throwing, cantankerous hillbilly? I have to admit, his character scared me a little when I was young. I was also pretty leery of the entire Darling family.

Otis Campbell was the lovable drunk who would walk to the jail and lock himself up after imbibing a few too many brews. Just like real life, eh?

Aunt Bea lived with Andy and his son Opie. She was a pie-maker extraordinaire as well as a grower of award-winning roses, though she always seemed to lose the competition to her good friend Clara. Like the rest of the Mayberry clan, Aunt Bea appeared to be asexual. That was until the arrival of a drifter who Andy hired to perform some odd jobs around the house. Aunt Bea was smitten with him while Andy saw through him to his flim-flam soul. We all knew he wouldn’t stick around; he needed to get back to Petticoat Junction as the infamous Uncle Joe. He moved kinda slow on that show too.

Opie Taylor, Andy’s son, was the perfect child everyone wanted. That is until he killed the Mama bird with his slingshot.
So why did another icon cross over? Heck, do you realize how many cool people are there now? Musicians, actors, comedians – the place is jammin’. Kind of takes the sting out of getting old.

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