Finding the Way Back To Mayberry

As a guest editorial, saluting Mayberry Comes to Westminster, Kris Butts presented the following item from Paul Harvey News & Commentary dated Saturday, January 10, 1998

Since television ran away from home .. it has been wandering .. searching .. trying to find it’s way back to Mayberry.

These days, whatever I’m watching, I’m unfulfilled. I can close my eyes and smell the crayons in Miss Crump’s classroom. I can smell the bay rum in Floyd’s Barber Shop. When I open my eyes, I see mostly mayhem. And as Charlene Darling would say “that makes me cry.”

From our weekly visits to Mayberry, we learned tolerance for Otis Campbell’s weakness .. and for Aunt Bea’s pickles. We learned compassion from Opie’s misused slingshot and we were introduced to soft love at Myers Lake.

The bumbling Goober’s among us learned that we still may be smarter than anybody when it comes to fixin’ cars. Barney Fife .. taking himself so very seriously .. was a mirror reflection of most of us. And Sheriff Andy Taylor understood. Mayberry .. where are you now when we need you so?!?

Might television ever find its way back to Mayberry? Is the image of father and son, hand-in-hand, going fishing too trite, too provincial for contemporary plausibility? One might think so .. except .. that episodes remain evergreen in re-runs.After all these years .. the bullet in Barney’s pocket still evokes a smile. City folks .. intimidated .. or seduced by drifters. Buddy Ebson as a hobo was helped to discover his own conscience in Mayberry.

Remember the impatient city visitor .. with no time to spare? But he ended up in the porch swing singing “Church in the Wildwood”. Opie slept on the ironing board that night. Adventure sleeping, he called it.
Today, we laugh at one another. In Mayberry, we cared about one another. That was confirmed even in the way the writers wrote around Floyd’s incapacity.
An observation which this professional people watcher considers most impressive .. is that everybody to whom Mayberry was home .. might have been assumed by cynics to be play-actors. And yet, each in real life turned out real good! Aunt Bea remained in character until death did us part.

Whatever it was about that small town brigadoon appears to have become an indelible influence on those who lived there .. and on us who visited.

Television owes us .. and that accruing debt will be amortized, at least in part, if it keeps Mayberry alive against the day when behave yourself and love your neighbor .. comes back into style.