What can one say when a true living legend passes from this life to the next? For more than forty years Don Knotts touched the hearts of millions as he portrayed that bumbling, nervous, and loveable Deputy Barney Fife. We first met Barney Fife and the wonderful people of Mayberry back on October 3, 1960, when the very first episode, “The New Housekeeper” was aired. Television and comedy were never the same again.
My friends and I grew up watching The Andy Griffith Show. Many people consider Mayberry to be a totally unrealistic town. But growing up in a small town very similar to Mayberry in many respects, I can attest to the fact that there were towns like Mayberry. I use the past tense were because those days of Mayberry and the Andy Griffith Show are no longer here. Gone are those simpler and much slower times when virtues such as innocence, caring, and simplicity were the norm in countless small towns throughout this great land. However, because of countless reruns and DVD’s of the Andy Griffith Show, Barney Fife will continue to be a part of our lives for many years to come. I have every single episode of the Andy Griffith Show on either video tape or DVD and not a single day passes without my sitting down for a few episodes of Andy and Barney.
People who know me closely call me Barney. All you have to do is look at my license plate on my car and you will understand why. It is B FIFE. I wear a Barney Fife collector’s wristwatch and I carry a Barney Fife driver’s license in my wallet. When I dress up for a special event, I quite often wear my beautiful Barney Fife tie. I drink soda from a Barney Fife stein and we serve guests on our Barney Fife matching dishes. I have a Mayberry pennant hanging above my computer in my den and I have numerous pictures of Barney Fife hanging around the house. My bookcase has a number of books about Mayberry and several specifically about Barney Fife.
When I retired early from teaching because of medical issues, all the teachers at the Fall Creek Elementary School dressed up like Barney Fife on my last day teaching. They presented me with a large poster of Barney Fife. However, it had one alteration. Instead of Barney Fife’s face on the poster, it had mine. They knew how to make my final and difficult day of teaching a very special one for me. They included Barney Fife.
Television today is unlike television when The Andy Griffith Show debuted. Standards of conduct and decency were quite different. For forty-six years families could gather around the television and know that for the next thirty minutes they could share in good clean humor without any embarrassment. The Andy Griffith Show, and in particular Don Knotts, could make people laugh with out any off color humor, sexual innuendos, or foul language. Perhaps that is the main reason I enjoy the program so much even to this day.
There will always be a special place in my heart for Don Knotts. I never had the privilege of meeting Don. But if I had, I would have said, “Thank you Mr. Knotts. Thank you for giving me forty six years of laughter. Thank you for making my life just a little bit better by having entered my home for so many years. Thank you for setting a standard for others to follow.”
Farewell, Don Knotts. Farewell, Barney Fife. Farewell to a comedian whose likes we shall never see again. Thank you for all the laughter.
RELATED ARTICLES & LINKS:
Mourning America’s Favorite Deputy
The Nervous Deputy
West Virginia Honors Don Knotts
Don Knotts to be special guest at Mayberry reunion in Nashville
Interview with the Mayberry Deputy
A Touch of Mayberry Comes to Nashville
Past Mayberry Articles
Go to Christian Activities Mayberry Section
Christian Activities Mayberry Forum
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