A man of many talents including co-authoring several books about Mayberry, Jim Clark was one of 4 founders of TAGSRWC, back in 1979 when the 4 friends were students at Vanderbilt in Nashville. The club was the result of competing TV shows. 'MASH' and 'TAGS' came on at the same time and two groups of students vied for the TV in the dorm lobby. 'We decided one of us always had to be in the lobby before the 'MASH' people,' says Jim. 'Then we decided we should have a name for our group so we came up with the tongue-twister: The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club. It stuck. People started asking if they could join; it grew from there.' Today the club boasts almost 20,000 members in over 1,200 chapters worldwide.
By 1990, TAGS was celebrating its 30th anniversary in Charlotte, NC. 'We had been in touch with the people at Mt. Airy before, and Tanya Rees at the Surry Arts Council decided it made sense to do something the same weekend in Mt. Airy to bring people up,' Jim claims, estimating some 10,000 people will show up for this year's event. 'Mayberry Days is a great annual event where people from 25 states or more gather for a wonderful reunion of Mayberry fans.'
Jim is still in touch with 3 of the 4 original members of TAGSRWC and says they still watch TAGS to this day. He is especially pleased to note the show has spawned a Mayberry-themed Bible study which bears its name. 'It really is neat to see the Bible study sweeping the nation to see people finding a deeper meaning than just good entertainment in TAGS. It is a tribute to the writers that people are finding a spiritual significance in the show.'
While many people consider Jim to be the "Andy" and "Head Goober" of TAGSRWC as well as its "Ben Weaver," if he could be one character in Mayberry, Jim says he would choose Count Istvan Teleky (the spirit who Barney believes grants wishes from the magic lamp in "Three Wishes for Opie"). "The Count seems to have the ability to be a part of Mayberry life for centuries, to come and go unobserved, and to bring joy to Mayberrians by making wishes come true,' says Jim. 'He's also the only character besides Andy that might have been present during every episode. That sounds like a pretty good Mayberry role to me."
Looking into the future as some of the original cast members have passed away or find it harder to travel and participate in Mayberry events, Jim says, "I don't have any vision for the future. You see how it would help if I could be Count Istvan Teleky! Then I'd know more. I think we'll just keep chugging along and let the events evolve as they go, which is how we've always operated--no real long-range planning, but just cherishing each opportunity for a gathering as it develops."
Jim and Ken Beck recently released two Mayberry gift books. "One is on friendship and is called I'm Proud to Call You My Friend. The other deals with special moments of parenting on the show and is titled Act Like Somebody.
Ken Beck and Jim Clark sign books at Davis Kidd Booksellers, June 18, 2002.
Jim stays busy writing Mayberry-themed books. 'We don't have any other Mayberry-related projects in the works, but Mayberry is always my favorite topic to write about. Howard Morris often cites Andy Griffith's comment to him that Mayberry is about love. I'd say that one word sums up Mayberry in a beautiful nutshell.'
From our archives, August 2002
Read more about Jim Clark at Jim Clark: Author, Mayberry Authority and "Head Goober"
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