Did we live in Mayberry and not know it?

I always wanted to live in Mayberry. Andy Griffith’s death last week brought an end to his life, but he will live on in our lives through television, just as he has done for the past 50 years.

Dying so close to the 4th of July seems fitting for Griffith: he was a part of Americana.

The theme from “The Andy Griffith Show” is a part of the world’s musical lexicon.

Show me someone who can’t whistle that happy tune.

(By the way, the official name of the theme song is “Fishing Hole” and there are words to it.)

“The Andy Griffith Show” remains my favorite television show of all-time, ahead of “Northern Exposure” and “Seinfeld”.

It’s my favorite despite the fact that I was barely two years old when it made it’s debut in 1960.

In my humble opinion, Don Knotts was the funniest person to ever step in front of a television camera.

Griffith Griffith No one has ever made me laugh as hard as Don Knotts (who died in 2006) and still does to this day.

When he makes his infamous “giraffes are selfish” speech or orders Gomer to “get down there with them spiders and start working”, it’s classic TV.

Griffith realized this early on and part of his genius was to step back and let Knotts become the star of the show while he played straight man.

Knotts won five straight Emmys for his hilarious work.

When he left the show after five years, it was never the same, despite its continued popularity.

So much a fan of the show, I recorded every episode on tape. It took 14 VHS tapes and five years to preserve 249 episodes.

I have two books devoted to the Griffith show.

Actor Gary Sinese said the coolest thing about working on the Ron Howard directed movie “Apollo 13” is that he got to meet Andy Griffith and Don Knotts, who were visiting the set one day.

Set in Andy’s native North Carolina, the Griffith show was country, not hayseed. The humor came out of the conversations the characters had. It wasn’t a jokefest or cutdown show and Griffith never allowed any writing that made fun of these characters.

Andy always saved Barney, but he never embarrassed him. Most of the time, Barney didn’t even know he’d been rescued.

When Aunt Bea made those horrible pickles, Andy and Barney forced down every single one of them so as not to hurt her feelings.

And we knew these beloved characters, whether in relatives or friends.

What was the draw to watch? It was genuinely funny, we cared about these people and the writing was superb.

When Barney got in trouble (which was always), we wanted to help him. When Opie accidently killed the bird with his slingshot, we suffered with him. When he was being picked on by the school bully, we wanted to protect him.

We wanted Andy as a father, big brother, uncle or best friend.

Floyd’s warped view of the world left us both scratching our heads and laughing hysterically.

When Ernest T. Bass appeared in an episode (only five), the laughter level increased 10 fold.

With Griffith’s passing, I feel like I have lost a relative.

There was comfort and familiarity in watching the show about small town people watching out for each other and enjoying living in a small town.

Again, I always wanted to live in Mayberry. Come to think of it, maybe I did.

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2012-07-12 digital edition

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