Hi ho, kittens!
You know, for years I've thought that Charlene Darling had the right idea.
And that Ellie Walker was the luckiest 'lady druggist' in the history of 'lady druggists'.
And that if I could be any character on The Andy Griffith Show, I'd want to be Helen Crump because she was the doll who finally won the heart of the iconic, 'Sheriff Without A Gun', Andy Taylor.
That's right, pigeons, I'm a hard core Mayberry-ite. In fact, if I had to choose just one show to watch for the rest of my life, it would without hesitation be The Andy Griffith Show...black and white episodes, of course! So, to kick off, a new series of 'Vintage Inspiration' posts (this time for the boys!), I've chosen a man who will always hold a special place in my heart, Andy Griffith.
I first 'got to know' Andy as a small child. Mayberry reruns have always been plentiful in most parts of the country, but when you grow up in the South, not a day goes by without at least one local station broadcast. In other words, Sheriff Andy has been a visitor in my home and put a smile on my face just about every day of my life. Now, how many people can you honestly say that about?
I always felt that the success of The Andy Griffith Show lay in it's familiar characters. In the South (and most likely everywhere else), we all know someone like Aunt Bee. We all know a Barney, a Floyd, a Ben Weaver, an Otis. And if we're lucky, an Andy Taylor. While they're over the top, they're real. And real is always funny!
The best thing about the show's real humour is it's quotability. In my house, just in the past few days, you'd have heard:
"Everybody back on the truck."
"Mornin' DEAR. Mornin' HONEY."
"Winkin'll tell Blinkin, Blinkin'll tell Nod, Nod'll tell Barney, and Barney'll tell you."
"Toot Toot, Tootsie, Goodbyyyyye...."
"Aunt Bee, call the man."
But Andy wasn't always Sheriff Taylor from Mayberry. He started out in stand up comedy....and when Andy was done, no one was standing...they were all rolling in the aisles.
I remember the first time I listened to my grandfather's 78rpm recording of 'What It Was, Was Football'. I was about 8 or 9 years old, and already an avid Andy fan. The record got me in ever deeper. This man was insanely hilarious!
At about the same time, I was old enough to sit down with my father and watch one of his favourite films of all time, 1958's 'No Time For Sergeants'. I was introduced to a character I would come to adore, the lovably stupid hillbilly turned hero, "Will Stockdale Stockdale Stockdale".
Like The Andy Griffith Show, No Time For Sergeants is ever so quotable. In my family when someone does something well, they're "...the best danged Sergeant they is the whole danged Air Force!"
When someone comments on how nice or clean something is, the familial response is, "It'uz my aim to get it just as clean as 'at operatin' room where they're a fixin' ta cut our yor heaaaart!"
Taps always brings the inevitable, "Somebody brung their trumpet".
But the best scene in the movie (and arguably the best scene in any comedy to date) is the inspection scene. Anyone who can keep a straight face when P.L.O. Stockdale makes the toilets salute has no soul!
I was a little older the first time I saw 'A Face In The Crowd', from 1957. In it, Andy's character, Lonesome Rhodes is anything but lovable. He's terrifying.
Although it was his film debut, Andy is remarkable and nimbly makes Lonesome a person you both revile and pity. He was a master, right out of the box.
A tremendous dramatic talent!
But to me and thousands of others, Andy will always be Sheriff Andy...protecting all of Mayberry, North Carolina from
escaped convicts ("Don't do that or it's goodbye Al!")
....loaded goats ("Somewhere walkin' loose around Mayberry is a loaded goat.")
.....fun girls from Mt. Pilot ("Hello Doll!" "It's BERNIE!")...
.....190 proof 'Indian Elixir' ("What it really does, is give you a buzz")...
.....and rock throwing mountain men ("No hunt beware open and closed no credit.")...
Andy's passing this week has been a sad time for so many of his fans who feel as though a member of the family or a very close friend has died. He's been a part of all our lives and has made our lives better for it.
He'll be missed in the real world, but in Mayberry, Sheriff Andy can always be found behind his desk at the courthouse, on the bench in front of Floyd's, on his front porch pickin' a tune, or out at the lake with Opie. He'll be forever young and handsome and quick with a joke or a lesson. And we can visit him any time.