Jan White

The Andy Griffith Show debuted 60 years ago this month.

The setting for the television program, the fictional town of Mayberry, was based on Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, N.C. For many years, Mount Airy has held a festival known as the Annual Mayberry Days. There’s an Andy Griffith Museum with a collection of artifacts to see.

The Andy Griffith Show aired on CBS from 1960 – 1968 and featured down-to-earth characters along with a mixture of comedy and drama. It always made the top 10 programs on television during the eight seasons of the show. In fact, it was number one the year it ended. The TV Guide ranks The Andy Griffith Show as one of the top 10 shows of all time.

Reruns have remained in syndication for 50 years. Every week our family watches the show, even though we’ve watched the same episodes over and over. Compared to the violence and profanity of TV shows nowadays, a family can watch The Andy Griffith Show knowing it’s a clean comedy.

The script writers, through the words of Deputy Barney Fife, gave us memorable quotes. “Nip it in the bud. First sign of youngsters going wrong, you’ve got to nip it in the bud.”

Researching the history of the show is interesting. For example, The Andy Griffith Show was shot on the same set as the movie Gone with the Wind. Most of the 249 episodes of the Andy Griffith Show were filmed in black and white.

Maybe that’s symbolic because there was a moral to the story in every episode. The definition of right and wrong was as clearly defined as black and white, with no shades of gray. For instance, in an episode where Opie only gave three cents to help the needy, Andy let him know, “It just ain’t nice to be selfish.”

Several years ago, Thomas Harrison began a church Sunday School class called “Take Me Back To Mayberry.” Many churches, schools and families have taught this study in recent years. According to www.back2mayberry.com, the curriculum uses “timeless truths to communicate solid Biblical values.”

The Mayberry Bible Study includes 16 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, one for each teaching topic. The study describes the episodes as modern-day parables, somewhat like the parables Jesus taught. For example, one lesson is based on 2 Timothy 1: 7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

In the Jan. 31, 1963 episode, “High Noon in Mayberry,” fear takes over the town because an ex-convict arrested by the sheriff writes a letter to Andy saying he’s been wanting to see him for a “long time to set things straight between us.” Turns out, the ex-convict was coming to thank the sheriff helping him turn his life around.

Andy Griffith stated in an interview, “The backbone of our show was love. There’s something about Mayberry and Mayberry folk that never leaves you.” Our society needs the timeless truths of the Andy Griffith Show. Let’s return to the moral lessons we learn from Mayberry.

Jan White is a wife, mother, and freelance writer who lives in Andalusia. Her email address is jwhite@andycable.com.

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