Andy Griffith, who forever more will be remembered as Sheriff Andy Taylor who used wisdom and character judgment to patrol the streets of Mayberry USA, has died at the age of 86.
From 1960-1968, millions enjoyed a weekly visit with the folks in Mayberry and, later, in reruns that continue to this day. Most of the episodes provided a moral lesson and a look at a simple yet wholesome life in a small town with its cast of characters including the town drunk, the busybodies, the movers-and-shakers, and widower Andy's family that was made up of his son Opie (Ron Howard) and his Aunt Bea, along with his bumbling but loveable deputy and sidekick, Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts.
Just about everyone recognizes the whistling opening theme song for the show called "The Fishin' Hole" and knows of the fishing lake, of cousins Goober and Gomer who worked at the filling station, Floyd the barber, and so many other characters. That show featured many actors who went on to be stars in other venues.
While driving the streets of Mt. Airy, North Carolina, it's easy to see how Griffith came up with Mayberry. Nearby Pilot Mountain became neighboring town Mt. Pilot in the show, they often mentioned state capital Raleigh, and other landmarks in the area can be picked out in various episodes.
In his youth, Griffith was an actor in the very popular and well-known Outer Banks play, "The Lost Colony," performed nightly to this day on the beaches of Roanoke Island, North Carolina. That is where Griffith settled down and lived, and that is where the call came early Tuesday morning for an ambulance at his house.
It seems even sadder that this icon of Americana should die the day before America celebrates the Fourth of July. He certainly helped shape our ideas of patriotism and traditional American values from various versions of the saying, "Baseball, Mom, and apple pie." That was Mayberry.
RIP, Andy Griffith. Thanks for the life lessons, the slice of small town USA, and a wholesome show that lives on.