Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mayberry, My Hometown

I'm an Ohio gal.  I was born and raised here.  I left the state when I went to college, married a sailor after graduation and moved across the country for our first five years, but I've been back for the last 13 years.  It's home to me, except for one thing.  There's another place that tugs on my heartstrings.  It's been home to me all of my life.  I don't know how to make people understand it.   Sometimes I don't quite understand it myself.  This place has been so real to me that I will find myself thinking about it or even dreaming about it. The strangest things will remind me of this place.  A piece of apple pie, fried chicken, a glass of lemonade.  Noticing a jay walker cross the street, exploring in a cave, helping a hurt bird or even sitting on the front porch.  You see, this place I speak of is Mayberry, my hometown.

I know.  I wasn't born there.  I never met the people and well, it doesn't really exist.  So, how can it be my hometown?  That's easy.  It's Mayberry.  Those that claim it as their hometown understand what I mean. We appreciate not only the great things about the show, but we try to remember to slow down.  We remember to say hello to the people we meet.  We remember to help our neighbor.  We remember that good character is a valuable thing.  I've heard it said that Mayberry is a state of mind, so even though it's not a real place, we go there every time we remember these important things.   For the outsiders, it's an imaginary town that was created for "The Andy Griffith Show" in the 1960's.  To those same people, it was a cute little show, but they don't understand the humor, the valuable lessons and frankly, they're too busy to care.

Since I was young, my parents shared their love for the show with us kids.  They didn't have to try very hard.  We naturally loved it right along with them.  The show had ended only a few short years before I was born, but we watched reruns.  We watched the show all of the time.  When VCR's came out, my Dad thought it would be a good idea to record the shows off of television.  He didn't know how long we'd be able to see it on T.V., so he wanted to be sure we always had them.  We whistled the theme song and recited our favorite lines to each other.  When my Dad walked me down the aisle on my wedding day, he and I were even saying the lines to each other then.    From time to time, I would meet someone that liked the show, too, but it wasn't until I was in high school that I found out what a following this show had.  I was tickled to find out that other people knew the lines as well as we did.  We learned about "The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club",(TAGSRWC), and how there were local chapters all over the world.  When we met other kindred spirits we instantly became "old friends."  I keep in touch with one of these friends on a regular basis who also happens to be a home school mom as well.

 After graduation from college, my folks and I visited Mt.Airy, North Carolina.  This was Andy Griffith's real hometown and the place that Mayberry was modeled after.  On arrival, I felt like I had come home.  Yes, the town was somewhat different than what I saw on T.V.  Andy and Barney weren't there, of course and the store fronts weren't the same, but it did resemble Mayberry.  The people we met were very friendly.  We spent some time with a lovely older couple who owned a bed and breakfast.  Russell, the barber, welcomed us into his shop, taking a picture of us to go on his wall and taking the time to talk to us.  He had actually cut Andy Griffith's hair many years ago.  We grabbed a sandwich at Snappy Lunch.  We drove by Andy's old home.  We walked Main Street and enjoyed the slower pace of this friendly town.   We even drove up to "Mt.Pilot" or Pilot Mountain.  I never forgot that visit and years later, my husband and I took our first three children there with plans to return in the future.

All eight of our children watch this show with us now.  We are raising them with the same values that Andy taught Opie.  We talk to the kids about the importance of good character and discuss the times in the show when someone did not display that good character.  We play games like quoting a line while the others guess the episode or playing charades by acting out a scene from the show.  I've been known to whistle the theme song to calm a cranky baby.

I think of Mayberry often, but there are times when I think about it more.   Barney,(Don Knotts), passed away six years ago.  This year, Goober and one of the Darling's passed away.  And, just a few weeks ago, we said goodbye to Sheriff Taylor.  Naturally, I'm sad.  We don't have actors like these guys anymore.  In a way, I feel as if I lost some dear friends.  But, something else has come to mind as I talk about my other hometown.  I've realized how very important it is to make memories with those that are closest to us.  When I think about the family I grew up in, I know that we are different in many ways and we've all gone in various directions, but we have some very wonderful memories, thanks to a show that aired a long time ago.        

My children, like me, are going to look back one day to when we watched the show together.  Not everyone is going to make memories in the same way, but, we must make memories with our children.  The most important memories I want for my children are the times that we were in the Word of God, when we sang together, and when they saw Godly character being lived in their parents.  I want them to remember how much their Daddy loved their Mommy, sometimes catching them when they kissed. I want them to remember the walks we all took, the lightning bugs we caught, the adventures we experienced in good books.   All of these things, big and small, are memories that will build a foundation in their lives.  They will bring them joy.  They can share them with their own children.  God can also use these memories to get them through the hard times.  He has done that for me.  So, let's take a step back and remember what's important.  Our Creator, our spouse, our children, and our neighbor.  Thank the Lord for every breath we have.  And, make some great memories with these little ones.  It will make all the difference.

Well, now, take down your fishin' pole and meet me at The Fishin' Hole,
We may not get a bite all day, but don't you rush away.

What a great place to rest your bones and mighty fine for skippin' stones,
You'll feel fresh as a lemonade, a-settin' in the shade. 

Whether it's hot, whether it's cool,
oh what a spot for whistlin' like a fool. 
What a fine day to take a stroll and wander by The Fishin' Hole, 
I can't think of a better way to pass the time o' day. 
We'll have no need to call the roll when we get to The Fishin' Hole,
There'll be you, me, and Old Dog Trey, to doodle time away. 
If we don't hook a perch or bass, we'll cool our toes in dewy grass, 
Or else pull up a weed to chaw, and maybe set and jaw. 
Hangin' around, takin' our ease,
watchin' that hound a-scratchin' at his fleas. 
Come on, take down your fishin' pole and meet me at The Fishin' Hole, I can't think of a better way to pass the time o' day.

(Earle Hagen & Herbert W.Spencer/Everett Sloane)

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