You may ask your self, what does Andy Griffith have to do with the history of Laurens County and East Central Georgia. Is there a relationship between the North Carolina born actor and our area? Unfortunately, there is no tie with the legendary television icon. By now, you may have realized that the Andy Griffith show premiered on television fifty years ago this past Sunday night. Whether you realize it or not, this show, which never garnered Griffith or the show itself a single Emmy award, has effected our lives in some way.
The lessons which Andy, his family and friends have taught us have been many, some obvious and others subliminal. Love of family and friends is right there at the top. Perhaps most important among the lessons which Andy learned as a parent was that parents were not always right and children were not always wrong. It was about love of one another, treating each other with respect, even the bad guys some times. It was about patience and enjoying the simple things in life. Most of the shows centered around some moral virtue, or the lack thereof. It was about life, our lives, when life was just a little slower, people a little kinder, and doing for others was well, what you did.
Obviously, the show's scenes were not filmed in a North Carolina town, or any other town for that matter. They were filmed in Hollywood on the back lots. The filming of Andy Griffith took place on the same outdoor set as Gone With the Wind in 1939. Watch the street scenes closely. If you were to look to the right as you left the courthouse, you will see the Atlanta Post Office seen in the legendary movie. The set was used by other television programs. How many of you are original Star Trek fans? Look for the episode, "City on The Edge of Forever," one of the show's most highly heralded episodes. When Captain James T. Kirk and social activist Edith Keeler, played by Joan Collins, are walking down the street holding hands, look behind them and you will catch a glimpse of Floyd's Barber Shop. The courthouse, Walker's Drug Store and the hotel are plainly visible in another Trek episode, Miri. Well, I'll be dogged!
Star Trek episodes, "City on The Edge of Forever" and "Miri" showing the Mayberry Hotel.
The Andy Griffith Show was all about family. And, if you watch the early episodes you will remember that Andy and Barney were actually cousins, although the relationship was not mentioned beyond the first season. Ron Howard, who played Opie, had his family acting in the show with him. Howard's father Rance played a bus driver in an episode. His brother, Clint, who later went on the star in "Gentle Ben," played Leon, the little kid with a cowboy hat who was always offering his sandwich to people he met. Their mother Jean never appeared on the Griffith show, but did appear in other movies with her sons. And of course, you all know that Goober and Gomer, the Pyles, were cousins as well.
Questions: If Aunt Bee was supposed to be a spinster paternal aunt of Andy, why is she seen wearing a wedding band in the episode where Barney arrests most of the town folks on various charges? Wonder why the map in Andy's office was a state map of Nevada turned upside down? And, before that it was a map of the state of Idaho, yes and it was upside down too. Why did the Taylors live at three different addresses when their house was always the same?
So, what's your favorite episode? We all have them. Mine is Opie, the Bird Man. How did the shows affect your life? Despite all the delicate situations, problems, and difficult people Andy faced, in the end he always seemed to do the right thing. As you go through life and problem people confront you, think WWAD, What would Andy do?
P.S. There is no Mayberry, North Carolina. But, there is a Mayberry (Maberry), Georgia and it is right here in Laurens County. If you don't already know, Mayberry was a railroad stop on the Dublin & Southwestern Railroad. And, SW Laurens Elementary School sits in downtown Mayberry. Shazam!