The Other Side of Mayberry

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Mayberry Days was a study in contrasts this year. I guess once you have attended something as long as I have attended Mayberry Days, you begin to see a side you never saw before… and sort of wished you hadn’t. My previous experiences with Mayberry Days have always been so pleasant that it made the contrast between expectation and reality all the harsher this September.
There was the organizer who was rude and abrupt when my guest and I stopped by to inquire about tickets. There was a very trite moulage instigated by a couple over free buttons and other giveaways. And there was ample evidence that putting too much power in the hands of one little despot results in a Mayor Stoner wannabe. But these things aside, Mayberry Days remains a joy if you don’t look too closely behind the scenes. I had my share of wonderful moments which are certainly worth sharing.
This was the first year I have been able to attend the golf banquet, and that proved a good place to catch up with the cast members who are always so nice: Elizabeth McRae, Maggie Peterson, Leroy McNees, George Spence, Betty Lynn and the rest. What a treat it is to spend some time with these veteran performers and to listen to their stories. However, it was a disappointment to pay $30 for our tickets just like everyone else (after being blown off by the organizer, a tour group sold us two unused tickets), and then be shuttled off to a table in the furthest corner where we learned we were not eligible for door prizes since there was no record of our names anywhere. At least we were not accosted by the organizer and accused of crashing the dinner like another friend (and steadfast Mayberry supporter) who had also purchased a $30 ticket. I think this might prove to be my first and last golf banquet. The $30 provided a good dinner, the opportunity to chat with the cast members and a cold atmosphere in more ways than one. Note: buy tickets early. Ignore the website which shows tickets are still available.

One of the highlights of this year’s Mayberry Days was newcomer Chevy Anz who played “Fun Girl Daphne” to the delight of almost everyone, especially the men. Her sultry “Hello Doll,” while not quite as low as Jean’s original, captured the nuance to perfection. Mayberry Days will never be the same! And how could I neglect mentioning Mr. Schwamp’s stellar first appearance!
Another highlight was the new Mayberry on Main store which serves delicious ice cream and other tasty treats along with Mayberry souvenirs and friendly conversation. Kudos to Debbie and Darrel for their new enterprise! Mayberry on Main played host to Gary Wedemeyer’s Mayberry Emporium this year and became a favorite hang out.
Jim Clark was on hand with his parents this year and it was certainly nice to meet the folks who raised the man who founded TAGSRWC. The TennesseeTAGS and Mayberry Chapters were also on hand, so there was always a friendly face — sometimes even a “royal” face — around. Hail to thee, Dennis, King of Mayberry!

A special moment for me was presenting a plaque to Charles Dowell of the poems in The Mayberry Poem – A Tribute to Mayberry which celebrate the Snappy Lunch. Mr. Dowell was gracious in his acceptance and is always a pleasure to see.

Speaking of poetry, it was a real treat to meet two of the contributing poets to the Tribute to Mayberry poetry books, Clyde Hughs and Joe Hoover, who both stopped by to help me autograph books at the book signings at Pages Books. The staff at Pages was delightful and quickly made me feel at home, and so many people came by to meet me that I soon lost count of all the new names and faces! Thanks to everyone who made the event the best book signing Pages has had so far, according to the management. I had a wonderful, wonderful time.
There was plenty of good shopping: Mayberry Consignment, Mayberry Trading Post, Dickson Gifts, among others, and plenty of sites to see including the expanding attractions down at Wally’s and the Mayberry Courthouse. Goober’s restaurant hosted us twice and even provided one of the funniest surprises for Chevy’s birthday, some sweet dark chocolate. You had to be there, but special thanks to the staff at Goober’s for their psychedelic sense of fun!

The parade is always a high point of Mayberry Days, and this year was no different. The interaction between Goober and Daphne was hilarious, and Tim Pettigrew wins my award hands down for most animated interaction with parade goers and other Tribute Artists as he warmly included everyone in his antics. Thanks to Tim and all the others who demonstrated the real spirit of Mayberry this year. Those are the memories worth holding onto. The rest will eventually blow away like chaff.
2006 Mayberry Poetry Books Released
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