Years ago when I was a Catholic school teacher, one of the subjects I had to teach was religion. Besides the question of why God made us (to love and serve him in this world and the next), the ten commandments, and the usual prayers, I asked the principal if once a week, I could play an episode from the Andy Griffith show.
I can’t imagine a program or a series of shows that embodies what it means to be a responsible, kind person with strong moral values more than the Andy Griffith Show.
What I liked about the program is not so much that Opie did something wrong and Andy lectured him. But the lesson went beyond just meaningless words.
For instance in the story (some consider to be the best episode) where Opie uses the sling shot (against Andy’s instructions) and kills a bird, Opie says, with true remorse, that he is sorry.
And Andy responds “Being sorry will not bring those birds back.”
Opie asks if he is going to receive a whipping (which never happened in some of the two hundred and some episodes). Andy says no but tells him “to listen to the chirping of the birds, who are waiting for their mother, who is never coming home.”
What Andy always made clear to Opie was that Opie had to actually dosomething to make up for the damage he had done. So, of course, Opie mothers the birds. When Opie wants to keep them, Andy reminds him that he agreed to take the place of their mother, and that was one thing their mother would do, which is to let them go. A lesson for all of us mothers.
These mini lessons are sprinkled all through these wonderful episodes.
Another favorite is a later episode, when Opie, playing football in the backyard, destroys Aunt Bee’s prize rose. He finds a way to make amend by framing a photo of the beautiful flower, which ends up winning the contest.
There is a lesson when Opie is a bad loser, when Andy feels Opie isn’t generous enough, when he doesn’t trust Opie, when Opie is feeling left out as Andy dates.
And then there is my favorite character, who is Aunt Bee. Someone once wrote that “we all have a person inside of us, whom we betray.”
I want to be Aunt Bee.
I want to live in a small town and make jars of pickles and create cakes with jelly beans for the bake sale, and join the choir, and cook delicious meals, and grow flowers, and star in the town play, and drive a convertible, and take delight in a pink bed jacket, and learn to fly a plane. I want to live in a small town, where everyone knows my name and everyone loves me.
And, of course, there was Barney, who wiggled and wobbled but who had a heart of gold. My favorite episode is the one where Andy and Barney substitutes store bought pickles for Aunt Bee’s homemade pickles, which managed to kill a fly. This action shows how far these men would go simply not to hurt Aunt Bee’s feelings. Then there is Barney, standing up to the two mean guys, who are selling out of their trucks, or Andy’s reluctance to tell Barney that he just can’t carry a tune.
I’m not the only one who is fascinated with this series. There is actually a fan club, with the link of
Also TV Land also has a marathon on every day in the early evening.
I have collected Andy Griffith memorabilia, cards and cookbooks, and DVDs and even a board game. And I defy anyone to match me word for word on the dialogue.
There are many reasons why I’m not alone in my love of Andy Taylor, Barney Fife, Aunt Bee and the mystical town of Mayberry.
In the midst of uncertain and scary times, when terrorists roam the sky and serial killers stalk the woods, when sickness and death strike at random, and people are measured by fortunes gained and lost, Mayberry offers a welcome respite. A town where kindness and moral characters are stressed, where events make sense and where (as the song that Aunt Bee and Clara wrote) “the children grow up happy, healthy and free.”
I want to live in Mayberry, if only for a few hours at night.
And for those of you who can't get enough of this wonderful series, from Uneek Doll Designs, a miniature Aunt Bee -
Who doesn't love charm bracelets and this one from Random Stuff is full of Mayberry characters.