Sylacauga, Alabama—this is your quintessential American town. Old buildings, lots of Baptist churches, and Mama Ree’s restaurant, which serves fare so good you’ll wonder if Granny isn’t in the kitchen.
This is the hometown of Jim Nabors, better known as Gomer Pyle from the Andy Griffith Show.
Earlier today, I toured the city. There is a lot to see.
There’s the Comer museum on Broadway Avenue. They have a room dedicated to Nabors memorabilia. There you can see photos, news clippings, and costumes from the town’s own native son. Up the road is the high school Nabors graduated from.
And of course, Sylacauga is known for more than just Gomer Pyle.
Firstly: it’s one of the only places in the world that produces bedrock marble so pure it was used in the construction of the Lincoln Memorial, and the United States Supreme Court Building.
Sylacauga also boasts the first documented case of an outer-space object falling onto a human. It happened one autumn day in
‘54. A meteorite the size of a grapefruit crashed through a farmhouse roof and hit Mrs. Ann Hodges, who was napping.
It didn’t hurt her too bad, but they say she was fussy for several days thereafter.
Don’t get me wrong, I love meteorites and marble as much as the next guy. But I am here today to track down Gomer Pyle. I am looking for glimpses of a world once inhabited by Andy, Barney, Opie, and Aunt Bea.
The truth is, Andy Griffith raised me. After my father died, we lived with my aunt and my cousins in Georgia. Back then, I was a redhead boy, trapped in a house with six females and 1.5 bathrooms.
Every month, for a span of three to five days, these women would become very grumpy—AT THE SAME TIME. Then, they would gang up on me, threatening to behead and…