Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Remembering Andy

Posted July 3, 2012

It’s a sad day in Mayberry. That’s what my former news boss John Harris wrote this morning in an email from Wisconsin where he works as a television station manager. John and I are both big fans of The Andy Griffith Show. We’re both hurting like a lot of you as a result of Andy Griffith’s death at age 86.

What are you favorite memories of Andy Griffith? Please share them in the comment section of this blog.

As a child growing up in North Carolina I remember watching the Andy Griffith Show with great pride. My hometown of Morganton was a lot like Mayberry. My family members were big fans of the Danny Thomas Show which gave Andy his start. It was such a delight to see all the characters of Mayberry come together in the Andy Griffith Show which began in 1960 and ruled the ratings at CBS for eight seasons.

As a rookie television reporter for WRAL I recall doing a series on trying to find the characters of Mayberry in real-life North Carolina. Sure enough, I found a barber like Floyd in Elm City, a mechanic nicknamed Goober in Spring Hope and a tenor like Barney who couldn’t stay on pitch at a Baptist church in Bailey. That was the beauty of the CBS series. It was about characters Andy had known in the mountains and foothills of Surry County.

I still enjoy watching episodes of the Andy Griffith Show. They always make me laugh and I always learn something new. How about you?


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  • mikegant Jul 5, 2012

    Consider the fact that last Saturday,WRAL preempted the scheduled Andy episode. Sixty hours later he died. This is what I will remember about how beloved Andy was to WRAL. Thanks a lot!

  • nc_jcnumber5 Jul 4, 2012

    I enjoy those black and white episodes the most. All of the characters helped to dispel the stereotype of dumb southerners because they were "sneaky smart". Andy was also an accomplished singer. I still enjoy his album of gospel favorites.

  • caryite Jul 4, 2012

    CONTINUED FROM POST BELOW: No other fictional television has had such an impact and the biggest lesson it taught me was that no matter the circumstance, we must work together and go forward.

    How it must’ve been for Opie to not have his mother in his life. That was not a concept of the sixties that people dealt with openly. And there was never a fuss made over the emotional wounds Andy and Opie must’ve suffered at this loss. In that era, they just didn’t dwell on our psychological wounds. They simply carried on and took care of one another. I know that example helped me through the loss of my own father.

    To the fictional Opie, I’m sorry for your loss. To the stand-up man that was Andy Taylor, may you rest in heaven with the Angels. Your impact here on earth is far more reaching than you could ever know.

  • caryite Jul 4, 2012

    Opie Taylor and I couldn’t have been more different. He’s was a boy, I was a girl. He was an only child, I had five older siblings. He had Aunt Bee, I had my mother. He lived in a small country town, I lived in the suburbs. But his father, Sheriff Andy Taylor, was every bit a father figure to me as my own. And while the series first aired in the first 6 years of my life, I adopted this father figure to carry me on in re-runs long after I said goodbye to my own father a few years later.

    I have watched nearly every episode of this show and have never once felt I didn’t get some guidance from the man who fathered Opie in such a fair, firm and loving way. Even at nearly 50 years of age, I watch an episode and a part of me feels I am sitting on the living room floor of my first home with Mom, Dad and my brothers and sister within arms reach.

    This sort of comfort is what I reach for when I flip channels on the TV. I choose it over nearly anything else. No other fictional

  • genegeneandnancy Jul 4, 2012

    Such a sad loss of our NC icon...what a great actor, comedian, and singer he was. Not only was he great as "Sheriff Andy Taylor", but I also thought he was a great actor portraying a not-so-nice strict judge in "Crime of Innocence" as well as when he portrayed the part of "Farrah Faucette's" father in "Murder in Texas'...such a well rounded and talented actor that could play any role. May he rest in peace along with Barney, Helen, Otis, Goober, Floyd and all the other Andy Griffith co-stars that are gone.

  • mbsheisey2 Jul 4, 2012

    Bill, can you please, please give the barber's name you found in Elm City? Because I'm from Elm City and am living back here now!

  • jpittard2 Jul 3, 2012

    My father, J. D. Thomas was a small town policeman in Lexington, Illinois. He looked like Andy to the curl of his hair. An article was done on the 2 of them, maybe Life. Later when the Return to Mayberry Movie was on one night, My daughter wanted to know why Grampa J.D. was on TV. We lost Dad on February 8th. This morning Jesse called to say she had lost her grandfather all over again with Andy's death.I did,too. Rest in peace kind and noble servants. We can never forget your smiles and your songs.

  • lawtonjg Jul 3, 2012

    Besides the series with Opie, Aunt Bea and the others, my favorite memory will always be his comedy routine "What It Was Was Football". A first encounter of a game he had never seen, heard of or even imagined before. Hilarious!! RIP, Andy and thanks for all of the memories.

  • westoflyra Jul 3, 2012

    I liked him in a Hawaii Five 0 episode from 1972 where he played a con artist. He and his wife and daughter went to Hawaii to pull scams on people. Unfortunately, one of their "marks" was somebody involved in organized crime and then those criminals start looking for him and his family to retrieve their money. The antics of Andy's character and his family are meant to be comedic.

    In one scene he's dressed up as a police officer - obviously an inside joke to his days on Andy Griffith as a sheriff.

  • pearnhardt Jul 3, 2012

    We did a Bible Study once and they used episodes from The Andy Griffith show as guidelines for our study. It was great. Lots of good examples to follow. RIP Andy...

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Bill Leslie