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Andy Griffith, Sheriff Andy Taylor and Mayberry

By: Jack Swift

I don’t know about you but one of my favorite TV programs was “The Andy Griffith Show.” There were several popular sit-coms that ran during the long-time series of “The Andy Griffith Show” and its spinoffs. But Andy, Aunt Bea, Barney Fife, Floyd the barber, Opie, the sheriff’s son and other characters of the show usually imparted not only an enjoyable period of time, but also put fourth a moral lesson as well. The show included primarily the interaction of the folks who lived in the fictitious town of Mayberry. Aside from his role as Sheriff Andy Taylor, Griffiths also starred in a number of movies. If I remember right, his career started on Broadway with the play “No Time for Sergeants. “No Time for Sergeants” was later made into a movie. But I would say Griffiths’ role as sheriff of fictional Mayberry is how he is remembered by most folks, but he also starred in the long-playing TV drama, “Matlock,” in which he played an Atlanta lawyer who always sported a white suit and made use of a surprise ending in a well-crafted script. Of course, both “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Matlock” may still be seen as reruns on select TV channels. Only a little more than a hundred miles from Mountain City, Tennessee is Mount Airy, North Carolina, the hometown of Andy Griffith. Perhaps “Mayberry” was patterned after “Mount Airy” in that “Mount Airy” had a small-town atmosphere typical of many such towns in our great country. I think people still long for the simplicity of a place and time that was Mount Airy. The creators and writers of “Mayberry” skillfully drew from the bucolic atmosphere of Mount Airy to maintain a long-running show. Griffith’s talent also included singing and recording Gospel Music. Plus, he was a great actor, comedian, TV producer, writer, teacher and musician. He was born Andy Samuel Griffith on June 1, 1926 in Mount Airy and he died July 3, 2012 in Manteo, North Carolina. He was 86. He was a graduate of Mount Airy High School and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While I’ve never been to Mount Airy, I think it would be a great day trip. I understand the town takes advantage of tourism because tourism is an important part of its economy.