I have often heard people say, "If we could only go back and live in Mayberry." I have even had people pull up beside me at a traffic light, roll their window down, and remark about the sticker on the back of my truck. It reads "Make America Mayberry Again" (yes, I got it from Weaver's Department Store). Everyone wants to experience the idyllic life we witness in the 249 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. Some of us grew up in similar circumstances (I did), but at the end of the day, the town of Mayberry is simply fictional. Now, I know I just stated the obvious, but there is a mission inherent in my madness.
While Mayberry was created in the Desilu studios and The Forty Acres Backlot, the effects of Mayberry are very much real. Several years ago, my wife and I began to attend Mayberry events when we could. This fall, we hope to go on our 6th Cruise to Mayberry; we've been to Mayberry Days (not nearly often enough); helped host 3 Mayberry Christmas Shows (with Rodney and Beverly Dillard, Maggie Peterson, and David Browning, the Mayberry Deputy) in our community, and attended various other Mayberry events around mostly the Southeast. There is one constant in each of these experiences that I credit to the fictional town of Mayberry - Mayberry folks!
We have had the fortune of meeting upwards of a baker's dozen of the cast members (I know, we are just rookies), and while they are included in what I quantify as Mayberry Folks, I am not speaking (or in this case, writing) exclusively of them. No, I am referencing the myriads of people we have met at all these events that turn out to be salt of the earth citizens. People we have met are kind, polite, trustworthy, and a joy to be around. I remember hearing the folks who have the Taylor Home themed bed and breakfast in Clear Lake, Wisconsin (http://taylorhomeinn.com/) say they have not had one check returned to them and they don't take credit cards! (at least they didn't)
One more story. Several years ago, my wife Anne, mentioned on Facebook during February that she wished she could get an original Mardi Gras King cake. Those are a little difficult to find in Middle Tennessee. Lo and behold, one of the Mayberry folks we had met on the most recent Cruise (recent being the previous October) sent her a King Cake, along with a box of goodies.
The point of all this seemingly endless blather is that we ARE living in Mayberry - if we only look around us and find those folks with Mayberry values flowing through their veins - you know, like the one that would stick out on Barney's neck when he would get angry. I know the world has gone crazy in many ways, but we can find the warmth, kindness, and love that was a part of Mayberry in each other. Andy Griffith was often quoted as saying the principle theme of The Andy Griffith Show was one of the love the characters had for one another. So while you are going out there and acting like somebody, look around and I am sure you will find some Mayberry folks, and in so doing, you will find Mayberry!