An electrical engineer for the US Government in Huntsville, AL, Allan Newsome has been a fan of “The Andy Griffith Show” (TAGS) since he was a youngster. Little did he know that one day not only would he start two noteworthy TAGS fan clubs, but he would manage several TAGS websites and play the part of “Floyd the Barber” at numerous Mayberry events. I first met Allan in character as Floyd at the Opryland Reunion in Nashville in 2001, and have had the opportunity to visit with him at several Mayberry events since then. At Mayberry in the Midwest this year I asked Allan if I could interview him and he graciously agreed to answer several questions.
How long have you been a fan of “The Andy Griffith Show?”
I’ve been a fan since I was fairly young but it wasn’t until I was in college that I *really* became a “fan.” I joined The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club (TAGSRWC), got all the back issues of the club newsletter (The Bullet) and –along with my college roommate– started the “Mother Figure” chapter of TAGSRWC. That would have been about 1986.
What draws you to the show and keeps you hooked?
Well, first off it is a very funny show. Then there is what makes it funny….the characters. I honestly believe that I know folks in real life that could walk the streets of Mayberry. You actually can believe that the people of Mayberry are real and it’s the things they do..their character..that’s funny time after time.
When and where did you attend your first event?
1991 – Opryland Mayberry Cast Reunion
How did you get to know TAGSRWC president Jim Clark?
I first came to know Jim from the friendly and funny letters he would write when I’d send in my dues and he would take the time to write a note back. I met Jim, and his understanding wife Mary, at the Opryland Reunion in 1991. I’ve grown to know Jim well because of my involvement with TAGSRWC and the Internet website for the club that I run. He’s a prince of a fellow…a real prince.
Tell me what led to starting the two chapters?
As I mentioned above, Rob Jones and I started “Mother Chapter” back in college and that is our “local” chapter made up of fans of the show in our local area. “Who’s Been Messin’ Up the Bulletin Board?” Chapter grew from a single message I posted on the old “Prodigy” computer network to a “bulletin board” called “Andy Griffith Show”. After that first message I was joined, over time, by over 57 members. On the first anniversary of that first message, we decided to make our group of TAGS fans a “real” chapter of TAGSRWC so we had people send in their suggestions for a chapter name and “Who’s Been Messin’ Up the Bulletin Board?” (WBMUTBB) was born. That first message was back in the fall of 1990 and since then “WBMUTBB?” has grown from that small group on Prodigy to include the entire internet and over 1,400 members worldwide!
How did playing the part of “Floyd” come about?
In the early summer of 1993 David Browning (our favorite Mayberry Deputy impersonator) was doing an event in Gordo, AL, and my wife Jan and I attended. Following the event a large group went out to eat with David and we began doing our favorite quotes from TAGS for one another. I did several quotes from Floyd and attempted to talk like Floyd in the process, and David really enjoyed it. The next event that summer was up in Ohio. Jan and I were there as was David “The Mayberry Deputy” Browning and he kept having me speak to folks as Floyd. He took me aside toward the end of that day and encouraged me to try dressing up like Floyd and attending Mayberry Days in Mt. Airy, NC that fall. Jan and I talked all the way home about it and with her blessing I decided to give it a try. I thought it would be just a one time thing but afterwards I began to get calls asking me to perform and now…in 2003… I’m still “Floyd.”
What spiritual merit/values do you find in the show?
Look at the way the people of Mayberry treated Otis Campbell. He was the town drunk (“We don’t say it out like that.”) but people loved him and did their best to help him. They didn’t shun him and treat him as a bum. They didn’t like the fact that he drank but they knew he was a human being who happened to have a problem. It was a problem out there for all to see. We all have problems, some of them secret/hidden, but we tend to act like folks deserve to be “put down” because of their problems that we can see (in Otis’ case it was drinking). The folks there in Mayberry treated Otis like any other person. With kindness and love. Wouldn’t it be nice it we did that in the “real” world?
Do you find your own faith and/or walk strengthened by watching the show?
I was able to lead the Mayberry Bible Study at my church for 3 quarters and I would say that I now have a hard time watching episodes without thinking of the moral lessons which can be learned from them. It just adds to my enjoyment of the episodes to realize the morals that are there for people to learn from.
What is the most important thing you take away from the show?
It all comes down to the golden rule. Treat others as you’d like to be treated. That’s what the people of Mayberry do. They love their neighbors and because of that the golden rule is always in force. Andy tried to teach this to Opie AND to Barney and I think to all of us that view the show each day.
What is the most important thing you take away from the events?
On the nightly news we’re always told about how this bad thing is happening here and these bad folks live here. I dare you to attend a Mayberry event and not walk away after it’s over feeling like there just might be some hope for this world after all. The people at these events, the fans, are the salt of the earth. Kind folks that I believe have been learning the lessons that Andy was teaching Opie and Barn.
Allan has been married to his wife Jan since 1992. Their son Adam was born in December 1996. Allan says, “My only real hobby now is TAGS.”