Andy Griffith died today and I feel like I lost a family member. Growing up, Sheriff Andy was like a second dad, and a good friend, someone I looked to for guidance and a good laugh. He always delivered and so did the show. I must have seen all 249 episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show” 3 or 4 times. I never tire of Andy, Barney, Aunt Bee, Floyd, Gomer and Goober. And Otis and Ernest T were always welcome guests.
I don’t know exactly why I loved the show so much. Sure it was funny, with great writing and acting. But there was something more to it that resonated with me. I grew up summers in rural Arkansas that had a Mayberry feel to it. Everyone knew one another. People honked to say hello. Nobody locked their doors. The Rodeo was the big thing in town, that and the yearly carnival. For me, the big thing everyday was going to the post office, opening my grandparents combination box to retrieve their mail and then reading the wanted posters. Those criminals looked mean and some had committed Interstate Flight, which I thought meant stealing and landing an airplane on the interstate.
Andy was the man who knew what to do, no matter the situation, always calm and clever. He respected all the citizens of the town, even those who sometimes acted selfishly or foolishly and here I’m thinking Barney and Floyd who were “as stubborn as a body can be”. (I stole that phrase from my grandmother.) Andy often bailed people out who got in over their heads. On occasion, one of the characters would sport a delusional sense of self worth or ability and rather than expose his shortcomings or crush her spirits, Sheriff Taylor helped them save face. He never acted with spite, only love.
Sheriff Andy Taylor was a man of patience, thought and integrity and though I didn’t know him personally, from what I have read, Andy Griffith was that man too. May he RIP.