Posts Tagged ‘Mayberry’

Well, gollllly, Andy, it’s been a great 50 years

September 30, 2010

The all-American classic “The Andy Griffith Show” made its debut on Oct. 3, 1960, and went on to become one of the most enduring (in our hearts) sitcoms in television history. The fictional setting of Mayberry, North Carolina, was inspired by the real town of Mount Airy, where star Andy Griffith grew up. We visited the mini-Mayberry last year. Griffith, 84, now lives in Manteo, on the coast, and has become a spokesman for all things Democratic. Go Andy! We here in NC love our Sheriff Taylor, and here are some photos to prove it.

Diane kisses Opie (played by Ron Howard), son of sheriff Taylor (on left). The statues are in the NC capital of Raleigh.

Classic Ford Galaxie squad car cruises Main Street in Mount Airy

On left, the Snappy Lunch, credited as the only existing local business mentioned on the TV show; on right, Barney Fife, on duty 24 hours a day

Floyd's owner, Russell Hiatt, stays busy cutting the hair of locals and tourists

Mayberry, Mount Airy, what’s the difference?

June 23, 2009
Russell Hiatt aka barber Floyd

Floyd's owner, Russell Hiatt, stays busy cutting the hair of locals and tourists

I about keeled over when I peeked through the large window on Main Street into Floyd’s City Barber Shop. There was Floyd! OK, not really, but it looked enough like him that I thought I’d channeled myself into a 1960s television set. Black and white, of course.

Really it was 85-year-old owner Russell Hiatt, who has been cutting hair at his Mount Airy barbershop for more than 60 years. Oprah has been here, so you know it’s special.

Barney Fife, on duty 24 hours a day

Barney Fife, on duty 24 hours a day

Since moving to North Carolina six years ago, Wessel and I several times have been close to Mount Airy, Andy Griffith’s hometown and the inspiration for Mayberry, but never ventured “downtown.” We did last weekend, and what a treat it was. Wessel being Dutch, I’ve had to give him a Tarheel and American primer on “The Andy Griffith Show” and all things Mayberry. Over the years, I’ve taught him “The Fishin’ Hole” whistle, and a little about Opie, Barney, Goober and Gomer. And, now, Floyd. Finally he got to see that I wasn’t the only one waxing nostalgic over such things.

Pricey fridge magnet but priceless memories each time the fridge door is opened

Pricey fridge magnet generates priceless memories

Mayberry, er, Mount Airy, has done a good job of keeping the Andy mania fairly tasteful. Main Street has as many cool vintage and antique shops in old department-store storefronts as it does stores full of tourist schlock. But I loved the schlock too. I even forked over an outrageous $7 for an Andy fridge magnet.

There are more attractions than I have time to enumerate here. The most popular one is The Snappy Lunch, credited as the only existing local business mentioned on the television show, which aired from 1960 to 1968 and was filmed in … LA of course!

Barney Fife's famous Ford Galaxie squad car

You can catch a ride in a classic Ford Galaxie squad car

Another draw is The Squad Car Tour, where a carload of folks can ride in a restored 1962 Ford Galaxie squad car, the same as Andy’s and Barney’s. And I loved that Mount Airy’s “horse-drawn carriages” are instead powered by mules. Off in the distance, you can see the familiar knob of Pilot Mountain, called “Mount Pilot” on the show.

This year’s Mayberry Days is Sept. 24-27, when some 25,000 fans (and some of the show’s characters) descend on the town of 8,400 to celebrate the show, which first aired on Oct. 3, 1960.

One amusing ditty. Last fall, Griffith donned his Sheriff Andy Taylor persona and Ron Howard his Opie to endorse presidential candidate Barack Obama. That apparently did not sit well with the largely Republican county. It was all they could talk about at Floyd’s.