We are living in times when Americans spend millions of dollars each year in search of something to help reduce stress in their lives. We try everything from medications to therapy to alcohol and illicit drugs. Yet many of us continue to live each day feeling unfulfilled and totally stressed out.
We find that our lives are so filled with work, meetings, family events, school activities, church obligations, and social responsibilities, that we rarely find even a few moments of quiet time when we can escape and forget all those pressures that seem to follow us each waking minute of every day.
Many believe that a few moments at the local watering hole after work might help. At least some familiar faces and friendly smiles might be found there. Instead, the very same things seem to follow. People are complaining about their jobs, their spouses, the economy, and the politics in Washington. Upon leaving, one feels no better, and the only thing accomplished is that there are fewer dollars in the pocket and a few less hours in the day.
I am no different. My life is also filled with many stressful moments. But unlike many, I do not seek relief at the local watering hole. Nor do I see a therapist or use drugs. Nor do I try many of the other self-help programs that we see advertised all around us. No, I have a very different temporary cure for my anxieties and stresses.
Reflections on Mayberry
I find my relief by visiting that wonderful friendly fictitious town of Mayberry, North Carolina. For you see, like thousands of others throughout our country I am one of those people who is an avid fan of the Andy Griffith Show. And for me, it works. For a short time each day I can go back to a much simpler and innocent time and place where everyone knew everyoneï¿½s name. I find my blood pressure drops, my breathing relaxes, and my entire mood changes.
I have come to know many people like myself through the many websites that are dedicated to the Andy Griffith Show. I have taught Bible Studies that use Andy Griffith Show reruns as the study format and I have heard the laughter and I have seen the smiles when discussions begin about the people in Mayberry. Yet, I must admit, I do take ridicule from family and friends. For like many people, they do not understand the appeal of an old black and white television program that made its debut in 1960.
My family and friends often laugh at me ask why a fifty-nine year old retired teacher spends so much time watching a corny old television show like the Andy Griffith Show. They want to know what I see that they donï¿½t. So I like to tell them.
When I see Opie and Andy sitting out on the porch having one of their man-to-man talks, I see the father I never had. When I see Ellie Walker behind the soda fountain at Walker’s Drug store, I see Mr. And Mrs. Weix behind the soda fountain of the drugstore that I frequented as a young boy. When I see Opie and his friends frolicking through Crouch’s Woods and fishing at Meyer’s Lake, I see my brothers and me fishing at the old Mill Pond and playing out in Rau’s Woods. When I see Floyd cutting hair and talking to the town cronies, I see myself sitting in Virck’s Barbershop and I am listening to the men folk telling their hunting and fishing stories while I read comic books and enjoy the smells of the witch hazel and other manly scents. Or when I see Miss Crump encouraging Opie to go outside to play football, I see Mr. Eiden, my seventh grade basketball coach, laughing and encouraging us after we just lost a basketball game by a score of 88-0. After all, it was just a game back then. And when I see good old Mr. Foley working in his little grocery store on Mayberry’s Main Street, I remember Mr. Krueger who rigged a contest in his grocery store in order fora little boy to win a beautiful new cowboy outfit because his parents didn’t have any money to buy one. That little boy happened to be me.
When I see Andy and Barney welcoming Otis each Friday night and treating him with dignity, I recall very vividly our small town police officer that would follow my dad home when he had a snootful, to make sure he got home safely to his anxious and awaiting family.
These are just some of the things I see when I watch the Andy Griffith Show. And I see much more. For you see, I was very fortunate to have grownup in a very small town during a wonderful time when us kids were safe and secure knowing that we could roam around town, just like little Leon and Opie, and we could really get to know all those wonderful people who are no longer there.
Well, maybe I am a little strange, but so what. In this day and age, who cares? I am going to grab on to all the memories that I can find, and I am going to cherish them forever.
Previously published in The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.