Those who know me well know that I am somewhat freakishly devoted to The Andy Griffith Show. (Seriously, I am.) Mom refers to Andy Griffith on my behalf as “Uncle” Andy. ~smile~ When I received the news of his passing on July 3, 2012, I actually cried. As someone who does not go crazy over celebrities (most of them do not impress me in the least), the fact that I actually shed a tear over a man I have never met (but feel like I have known my whole life) was significant.
Thankfully, God gave me a friend who understands how I feel. ~smile~ I cannot think of anyone else in my life who would have enjoyed Mayberry Days more than Lauran.
Thanks to an understanding husband who wants me to branch out and mark items off my bucket list, Eric encouraged me to go and have a great time. So, Lauran booked us a room (probably the last available room in town) and we met up for twenty-four hours of Mayberry fun!
Mount Airy, North Carolina! Andy Griffith’s hometown and the inspiration for Mayberry. Driving into this town, though I have never visited it in my life, felt an awful lot like coming home. (Perhaps a bit over dramatic, but bear with me ~wink~). When I pulled up to Fancy Gap highway, I knew I was almost home. Then, I passed the “glowing” sign – Andy Griffith Parkway – and I felt happy inside. ~smile~ (My happiness quickly faded into annoyance when I could not get my phone out fast enough to get a picture of it as I flew by.)
To my left was the Mayberry mall. Also on Andy Griffith Parkway was Aunt Bea’s Barbeque (spelled incorrectly, I might add! All good fans know she spelled her name B-E-E). And to my right stood the Mayberry Motor Inn. I had the pleasure of passing all these special “landmarks” before arriving at our hotel. We checked in, dragged our stuff upstairs, and did what we always do when we see each other – talked a mile a minute until we were all caught up! After that, we hopped in the car, headed downtown, and spent a few minutes enjoying the end of Friday’s festivities. We sampled Thelma Lou’s cashew fudge – a special treat! We took our pictures with Andy and Opie. We purchased treats from Aunt Bee’s bake sale, and we listened to a few minutes of Andy Griffith trivia on the way back to the car. ~smile~
Perhaps not keeping with the spirit of the weekend (but, perhaps, a celebratory nod to Eric!), we did have Thai food for dinner. But after that, we got right back into the Mayberry spirit!
Friday night, we headed back to our room, laughed and giggled about old times, and then attempted to get some sleep. We got enough rest to get us through the day, packed our bags, ate our complementary “hot” breakfast, and headed to the Mayberry Days parade – the most highly anticipated parade of the year in Mount Airy!
Time for Fun, Fun, FUN!!!
The weather was perfect! Though it was overcast, it was only occasionally misty and so temperate. The cool breeze made the experience quite enjoyable. With just a light jacket, we were in business! I am not typically a parade person because I am not fond of large crowds and being elbowed every five seconds, but this parade was perfect! There was a crowd, but we were at the end of it. No one stood in front of us, we got to see all the characters clearly, and we even had a Goober impersonator refer to us as “the Fun Girls.” (For those of you who know who “the Fun Girls” are, I will tell you that I am choosing to take that remark as a compliment. ~wink~)
After the parade, we put our chairs back in the car, and went on to explore “Mayberry.” We passed Floyd’s Barbershop and eventually had a late lunch in Barney’s Café. We meandered happily through gift shop after gift shop and took advantage of some of the food truck vendors on-site.
After grabbing a small bite, we went to the Andy Griffith Museum – small, but it packs a big punch! ~smile~ For a mere $6.42, I got to see Barney Fife’s salt and pepper suit that “hung just right for the dip,” the actual signs that were on the doors of the Mayberry courthouse, and a few artifacts Andy donated to the museum from his sheriff’s desk – a gavel and a golden eagle. There were also tons of pictures, old TV guides, commemorative plates, and just about anything else you would want to see from Andy’s life.
It Takes a Special Woman to Love Barney Fife
After we thoroughly surveyed the Andy Griffith Museum, we went in search of “Thelma Lou.” Sure, Barbara Eden was there signing autographs, but we knew who we came to see! The last remaining member of the iconic foursome – Betty Lynn.
The line to see her was rather short, but because she is so sweet and friendly, it seemed like everyone in line was having full-length conversations with her. When we finally got to the front of the line, we knew she was worth the wait. There she was; a gentle, sweet, 89-year-old lady, just as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside during her days on the Andy Griffith Show.
She signed my picture, she complimented my name, she raved over Lauran’s raincoat (mistaking it for a trendy dress), and she happily posed for pictures with both of us. I should probably note, she had been signing autographs all day long and was still handling each person she met with grace and an award-winning smile. Meeting her was truly the highlight of the trip for both of us!
After meeting “Thelma Lou,” we gingerly walked our signed pictures back to the car as if we were holding gold bricks, placed them ever so gently in our vehicle, and went on with our exploring.
We got ice cream and walked down to Wally’s Fillin’ Station and the Mayberry courthouse replica. We visited the site of the up-and-coming Loaded Goat Sports Bar. ~smile~ And, we drove by Andy Griffith’s “old homeplace” – the house he lived in as a boy and that his parents lived in until he moved them to California in 1966. People can still rent the house today for a nostalgic experience! (Eric was so excited to discover that Andy Griffith’s old house can be rented to out-of-town guests. I know he simply cannot wait to vacation there someday. ~wink~)
We finished up our long Mayberry day with a Mexican dinner at Chili Rojo, said our goodbyes, and headed our separate ways. It was by far one of the best days I have spent in a long time! The only thing that could have made it better is if they had offered free elephant rides. ~smile~
A few times in our lives, we need to explore those avenues which fascinate us – even if there are few others in the world who share our feelings. Though I am one of the only people I know who quotes Andy Griffith religiously, (other than my Dad, of course ~smile~), I found hundreds of kindred spirits at Mayberry Days. The people there knew the trivia, had a blast at the parade, and needed to spend their hard earned money on Mayberry Memorabilia. ~smile~ It felt like a family reunion!
There are many who do not “get” my love of the Andy Griffith Show – and that is okay. Personally, I do not understand peoples’ obsessions with Star Wars, Harry Potter, Star Trek or The Hunger Games; but, I know there are those who love those series and would probably enjoy being immersed in their “culture” for a weekend. If there is a way to experience your favorite series, movie, or trilogy, make it happen with your sweetheart! ~smile~
Now, they just need to have a Back to the Future celebration (which they probably do) and “Sesame Street Days” and I will have visited all my childhood heroes!
What special place or exhibit would you like to visit with your sweetie?