by Evan Stair

I recently spent a few intense days training in Raleigh, North Carolina. During one of the classes a fellow student was joking about a town in North Carolina that was the home of the real Mayberry where Andy Griffith was raised. There apparently was a real Aunt Bee living in this community and a Floyd’s barber shop. I wondered if there was a nice little courthouse with a sheriff who did not believe in carrying firearms, and a bumbling deputy with one bullet in his shirt pocket.

Saturday Night in Mayberry
For some reason I remembered an episode where Barney Fife and Andy were sitting on the front porch. Barney was in a white shirt wearing a tie which was out of character for the heat of the day. I think Andy was wearing a tie as well. It must have been Saturday night. Both were reclining in their chairs with their eyes half closed. It was a warm evening so Barney mumbled that they should walk to the store to get a soda pop. Andy agreed but neither budged. About five minutes later after a bit more mumbling about nothing Barney again suggested that they walk to the store and get a soda pop. Andy once again agreed but neither moved. It was a very relaxing scene and typical of the easy going nature of the series.

Hicksville or Easy Living?
Why did I remember this particular scene? Maybe it was due to the struggle all of us have with the ever increasing pace of life which was represented by the intense course. As a young boy I used to think of Mayberry as “hicks-ville. ” In a way I imagine that’s what the series producers had intended.

Why do many never get tired of the morality plays shown endlessly in re-runs of this black and white vintage television series? I think its success has less to do with the simple morality stories than our deep down desire to step back into the past to find a simpler time. It is an escape that I have considered after working for hours upon hours and accomplishing very little. The people of Mayberry made a science of doing nothing. Floyd would sit on his barbershop porch and wait for the next customer. Andy would sit on his porch at home strumming a guitar while Aunt Bee and Opie reclined half asleep.

Not that the people of Mayberry were lazy. There just was not much in Mayberry to complicate their lives. The worst crime in the city was usually Otis stumbling out of the bar and getting thrown in the slammer for public intoxication or Earnest T throwing rocks through a window. Then there was the occasional jay walker arrested by Barney Fife who was then released by Andy who knew that jaywalking really didn’t matter in Mayberry.

Simplicity versus Complexity
The people of Mayberry were in most cases poor and on the lower end of the intelligence scale. However they enjoyed life. There is a lesson in this even though you may be saying that the Andy Griffith show was just a television program. Why do we continue to seek higher salaries which do nothing but introduce more responsibility and longer hours into our increasingly busy lives? Our stress levels increase, we are forced to live in larger cities and most of all our lives become more complex. Some take it to the extreme and don’t even enjoy the money that they earn.

Time Now Is Illusive
There comes a certain point where financial gain is no longer beneficial. For example, do you have time to mow your own lawn? Do you have the time to make your own lunch before going to work? Do you have the time to play with your kids at night when you come home from work? Do you have the time to spend time with your spouse or have you lost your spouse because you did not have the time to spend? As a society we need to sit on the porch more often half awake and consider walking to the store to get a pop.

Golden Rule Replaced by Technology?
Computers, traffic jams, crowded airports, cut-throat politics, five minute wolf down lunches, pagers, mobile phones, voice mail, and e-mail all invade our lives.

What would the Mayberry of today look like if the technological invasion reached that city? Andy would be a twice divorced gun toting lawman carrying a pager, a cellular phone, mace and a stun gun in addition to his handgun. He would know three forms of Marshall arts and wear a goatee. Aunt Bee would weigh 95 pounds, wear miniskirts, smoke cigars and cuss with a certain shocking flair. Opie would pack a pager, have a nose, tongue, ear, and belly button rings. Andy would constantly be trying to keep him out of jail rather than trying to teach him the golden rule.

I often ask myself when I will be able to retire to a land similar to the peacefulness of Mayberry. When will I be able to vacation in a place where my neighbor says hello and my co-workers all get along? Then I wake up and have to get ready for work.