From 1960 until 1968 in two hundred forty nine episodes⏤the country was treated to the homespun humor of the fictional small town of Mayberry, North Carolina. The very successful Andy Griffith Show was followed by the spin off Mayberry RFD, which ran for another seventy eight episodes from 1968 until 1971.
Mayberry was depicted as an idyllic small American community, the kind of place where everyone watching could either identify with because they lived in a similar place, or it was the kind of place they aspired to live in and escape from the hustle and bustle of a major city.
The town sheriff Andy Taylor, his son Opie, and their Aunt Bee all lived together in a modest home in Mayberry. The show’s episodes revolved around the three of them, along with a supporting cast of characters including Andy’s deputy Barney Fife, Floyd the barber, Otis the town drunk, and Andy’s love interest Helen the school teacher.
Toss in regular appearances by Gomer and his cousin Goober the mechanics at Wally’s Gas Station, and you had an ensemble cast that kept the show fresh and entertaining throughout the eleven year run of both shows. By any measure a qualified success in the very competitive television business.
The show depicted America in a much simpler time, with each episode usually dealing with such heady issues as the good natured competition for the county fair Blue Ribbon between Aunt Bee and her friend Clara over their home made pickles. Or showing Deputy Fife and his exploits as a fumbling, bumbling crime fighter, which became a staple for the show as well.
It was a time in America when people could identify with the residents of Mayberry. A time when courtesy and decency were the rule. A time when common sense was in good supply with most problems solved using that quality (which was once in abundance in America but now seems in short supply), instead of the focus groups, task forces, and government ‘experts’ that try to solve problems nowadays. It was a time in America that once really did exist.
The residents of Mayberry were proud of their country and even more proud of their small community. “America right or wrong” was the mantra they believed in and followed. And if by chance America might be wrong about something then they just pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and quietly fixed it, instead of whining about it.
The folks of Mayberry identified as Americans. The pride they felt was as an American. The thought of setting aside a whole month to celebrate pride in one’s sexual orientation was a foreign concept. There was no question in their minds as to which was the appropriate bathroom to use, and no special considerations had to be made for that purpose. And boys competed against boys and girls competed against girls in school athletics.
Was there ever any civil unrest in Mayberry? Absolutely! Aunt Bee and a whole slew of townsfolk even got arrested by Deputy Fife on more than one occasion for some minor transgressions like jaywalking that the conscientious crime fighter felt compelled to enforce. Situations that were always calmed down by the wisdom and steady hand of Sheriff Andy. No Antifa raising hell on the streets of Mayberry, only good citizens at times responsibly exercising their right to free assembly. Sheriff Taylor was the law, and he enforced the law with fairness.
The relationship between Andy and his son Opie was one every parent could learn from and envy. Opie’s occasional straying from the path of the straight and narrow was always minor, and always dealt with by his father Andy as a learning experience. A learning experience for both the parent and the child, as well as for most of the viewing audience who could relate to the challenges of raising a youngster.
Of course it was a simpler time to raise a child. Primarily all one had to do was to teach them the difference between right and wrong. Unlike today where teaching right and wrong isn’t very clear cut anymore. Traditional morality and values aren’t much in vogue nowadays it would seem. Only the offering of excuses.
I can’t help but wonder if we were better off in Mayberry of yesteryear than we are in the America of today. Certainly there have been some good and notable things that have been achieved in our society over the years.
Opportunities for women and minorities are better now than they were in the Mayberry of old. Advances in science and technology have mostly been for the good. Certainly relations between the races were vastly improved, at least until the year 2008 when they suffered a reverse, and which as a nation we have yet to recover from.
As Sheriff the people of Mayberry looked up to Andy Taylor. Unlike today when we see police officers disrespected, abused and assaulted, and being killed on the streets almost daily somewhere across the United States.
I would argue that a return to Mayberry would be a good thing for America.
A time when the streets were safe, and when young people attended college for an education to better their chances of successfully achieving the American dream.
A time when everyone knew their neighbors and helped each other out.
A time when Americans looked for answers to problems not from politicians but from within themselves.
And a time when common sense and common decency were the rule.