Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
It was 1960 when Andy Griffith came into our homes as the tender hearted sheriff of Mayberry in The Andy Griffith Show. He was the sheriff of a small North Carolina town, who along with his Aunt Bea, raised a precocious youth by the name of Opie Taylor. He was the epitome of fatherhood and did his best to keep law and order in a town that was full of characters but always made time to take his son fishing or go on picnics with him, all the while teaching him right from wrong. Sheriff Andy Taylor also had a lot to deal with as various characters filled his day on the job and then would sit on his front porch after dinner, smoke a cigarette and serenade anyone who would listen as he strummed his guitar.
The cast of crazies in his town consisted of his oft times nitwitted cousin and stickler of the law, Barney Fife, who filled the role as Andy’s Deputy sheriff, a town drunk named Otis who let himself in a cell when he was drunk on moonshine and let himself out the next day when he sobered up. Then there was rock throwing hillbilly named Ernest T. Bass who would throw rocks through windows when he wasn’t happy, a soft spoken and naïve barber named Floyd and we cannot forget about the musical hillbilly family of the Darlings who would come into town and would usually mean trouble for the sheriff, especially the one daughter Charlene who rebuffed romantic advances from Ernest T. Bass and was very smitten with Andy Taylor. Of course, we cannot forget the Pyle brothers, Gomer and Goober, who ran the local fillin’ station and were also the town’s mechanics. Although the show was full of fun and frivolity, there were some actual crimes that took place in and around Mayberry that were eventually taken care of by Sheriff Taylor and his deputy, who had one bullet for his gun and he kept it in his shirt pocket.
Andy Griffith had also starred in several movies and in the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties, he got rid of his sheriff’s uniform for a white suit as he donned the role of a detective in the television show Matlock, with him playing the lead role as Ben Matlock. There were also a couple of Andy Griffith show reunion movies in the early nineties.
Andy Griffith tickled our funny bones, filled our hearts with loving warmth and even filled our ears with song. It was this day in history, July 3, 2012 that we lost Andy Griffith to a heart attack at his home on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, at the age of 86 and was buried in the Griffith family cemetery on Roanoke Island within five hours of his death. Andy Griffith may have left us but his legacy will live on for generations to come.