We are having an Andy Griffith Show marathon. We start with the first season, episode one: Aunt Bea comes to town.

Early evening. My mother-in-law (Mother Mary) and I are watching the Andy Griffith Show. We are whistling along with the opening theme song.

Mother Mary is wearing hearing aids. The television volume is turned up as high as it will go, blaring so loud that pieces of the popcorn ceiling are falling into my beer.

We are having an Andy Griffith Show marathon. We start with the first season, episode one.

The plot is simple: Aunt Bea comes to town. Opie doesn’t like her. In the final scenes, everyone hugs. The end. Roll the credits.

Mother Mary says, “TURN IT UP!”

“But Mother Mary,” I say, “the television is all the way up.”

“HUH?”

“I SAID THE TV’S TURNED UP!”

“NO! NO! TAX DAY ISN’T UNTIL MARCH FIFTEENTH!”

“TAX DAY?”

“HUH?”

“MOTHER MARY! TAX DAY IS IN APRIL!”

“WHAT?”

“I SAID, TAX DAY’S IN APRIL!”

“WHY SHOULD I GIVE A RIP WHICH MONTH TAX DAY IS?”

So we watch TV together. And even though we’ve both seen this episode a hundred times, we still laugh at the jokes and whistle with the credits.

Episode one ends. Cue episode two: Andy and Barney catch an escaped convict.

“TURN IT UP!” says Mother Mary.

“I CAN’T!”

“HUH?”

“I SAID, I CAN’T!”

“WHO DID?”

“WHO DID WHAT?”

“GREG!”

“I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT!”

“HUH?”

They can hear our television blaring from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Whenever Barney Fife speaks, the sound of his voice shatters our windows and cracks one of my fillings.

Even so, this is the best show on the planet. I have loved it for my whole life.

As a boy, my friends always wanted to play “Army,” or “Cowboys,” or if we were in Marvin Kowalski’s basement, “Weatherman.” But I usually voted for playing “Andy Griffith.”

I had the clothes for it, too. My mother bought several khaki-colored safari shirts from the thrift store. If you paired this shirt with a badge and boots, you looked like county law enforcement.

I would grease my hair with my father’s Brylcreem before going outside to play, and tell everyone to call me Andy. Then, like all wholesome school children from my era, we would spend the rest of the day blowing up local mailboxes with barely-legal firecrackers.

My buddy, Dale, would always play Barney Fife because he was the only one who owned a police cap.

Dale played Barney differently than the Barney on TV. Dale’s interpretation of the character included carrying a Bowie knife and driving a Mustang Shelby GT500KR. He was more like Rambo Fife on performance enhancing drugs.

We would burn up our afternoon hours playing cops and robbers until our mothers called us home for supper, or until someone sprained their leg.

“TURN IT UP!” says Mother Mary.

“IT’S TURNED UP AS HIGH AS IT WILL GO!”

“SHE DID? WHEN DID SHE CALL?”

“NOBODY CALLED, I DIDN’T SAY THAT!”

“I REMEMBER GOING TO HER DAUGHTER’S WEDDING IN TUSCALOOSA!”

“WHAT?”

“TUSK-AH-LOOSA!”

I got an email a few days ago from a man who lives in Rochester, New York. He said he was afraid the nation was forgetting about Andy Griffith, and this worried him.

Well, I’m not worried. I travel to a lot of different places. Mostly, I am in these places to put people to sleep by giving speeches. And at some point during my speeches, I usually whistle the Andy Griffith theme song over a microphone. And do you know what always happens?

Everyone whistles along. And I mean everyone, including small children, golden retrievers, and certain breeds of fundamentalists.

It’s incredible. Once in Birmingham, I whistled the Andy Griffith theme song with six hundred people who were all in perfect unison.

When you hear something like that, it feels like dying and going to Mayberry.

A lot of people know I’m an Andy Griffith fan, so I get a lot of stories sent to me.

Like the letter I got from Roger, in Sacramento. He told me that during his childhood, televised Major League Baseball games were postponed so they wouldn’t interfere with the Andy Griffith Show on local channels. “We go crazy for Andy in California, man,” said Roger.

Another woman sent me a message telling me about how her son dressed up as Gomer Pyle for a school presentation. Her son attends community college. He is forty-three.

A fifth-grade girl wrote me a letter about her science fair project, which was entitled: “Recipes Aunt Bea Cooked.”

I met a ten-year-old boy who told me he watches three Andy Griffith episodes each night. A ten-year-old.

And just yesterday, I met someone whose father knew Andy Griffith. He told me that whenever Andy talked about the show, he’d say, “You know, our show was all about love.”

I can almost hear his voice saying that. And maybe this is why I like the show so much. Because love is hard to come by in this world. Some of us grew up feeling like we didn’t belong. Some of us still feel that way, no matter where we are. Certain childhood thoughts stick with you.

But when I hear that whistling, everything changes.

“TURN IT UP!” says Mother Mary.

My mother-in-law starts to whistle. I start to whistle with her. We are grinning at each other like a couple of well-fed possums. Andy does this to us.

“HEY!” my mother-in-law says. “I JUST REALIZED MY HEARING AIDS HAVE BEEN TURNED OFF THIS WHOLE TIME!”

35 comments

  1. Hollie Cartledge. - August 14, 2019 9:04 am

    Hey Sean. Our dachshund’s names are Bea Taylor and Thelma Lou. Hollie (mid 50s)from Alabama.

    Reply
  2. Ella Herlihy - August 14, 2019 10:11 am

    When I was in 6th grade in Danville, Virginia, one of our assemblies was to have the man who whistled the tune for the Andy Griffith Show theme song come and whistle a show for us. It was amazing. I was in the same room with that guy – the one who whistled the best. Wow.

    Reply
  3. Camille - August 14, 2019 11:01 am

    I watch every single episode on every channel I can find, every, single day! I’ve seen them all a jillion times and they are just as good as they were the first time. Andy Griffith is MY news channel and I am a much happier person because of it!

    Reply
  4. Dee - August 14, 2019 11:34 am

    BEST show on the Planet!!! Was then n will always be!!! I watch it every afternoon. Reminds me of my childhood n watching it with my Parents. Those are the best memories!! All about love…

    Reply
  5. June Rice - August 14, 2019 12:10 pm

    Sean, my husband and I (ages 80 and 69) watch Andy EVERY SINGLE DAY!! We have watched so many of the same episodes we can lip the dialogue 😀! We long for these simple days of what we consider good tv shows. I know we are expressing our age but hey we are still alive and kicking. I do believe we were raised during the best of times except it is hard to beat anything currently medical. As far as life just “nip it in the bud! Nip it! 😀

    Reply
  6. Shelton A. - August 14, 2019 12:23 pm

    Write Mother Mary messages. Save your voice and find out early if she’s got her hearing aids on. Just a thought.

    Reply
  7. Carol - August 14, 2019 12:33 pm

    Ya gotta love , Jesus, MotherMary, & Andy Griffith!
    Oh and you too!!
    Love ya!

    Reply
  8. Lizzie - August 14, 2019 12:46 pm

    It’s a pleasure to be reminded of the show we all loved when America was great. Andy gave the whole country a sense of unity missing now. Your last line is perfect!

    Reply
  9. Teri Henry - August 14, 2019 12:59 pm

    I can hear the whistling! I smiled the whole time I read this – #Andylove

    Reply
  10. Karen Martin - August 14, 2019 1:18 pm

    What is your address?

    Reply
  11. Connie Havard Ryland - August 14, 2019 1:25 pm

    Thanks for the smile this morning. Love and hugs.

    Reply
  12. Keloth Anne - August 14, 2019 1:29 pm

    I love watching Andy Griffith—-such a wonderful show♥️♥️
    Another great reading—thank you 😊

    Reply
  13. Becky Curran - August 14, 2019 2:00 pm

    You make me smile every. Single. Day. Some days you make me laugh, and some days you make me cry too, and that’s fine. But I love that I can always count on you for a smile. You are a GEM, and you make the world a better place.

    Reply
  14. Steve Winfield - August 14, 2019 2:02 pm

    Huh?

    Reply
  15. Carol - August 14, 2019 2:03 pm

    I really enjoyed this article. Very funny

    Reply
  16. Ruth Ann - August 14, 2019 2:06 pm

    Andy Griffith for president! Sean, I laugh and cry every day reading your blog. Thanks for reminding me to make sure my hearing aids are turned on when I watch TV

    Reply
  17. Judy - August 14, 2019 2:21 pm

    Your columns are pure delight. My Aunt Bessie told me over 60 years ago to become a professional whistler. Shoulda listened.

    Reply
  18. Susan - August 14, 2019 2:24 pm

    My husband and I watch two episodes of Andy every weeknight. He’s probably seen every show at least 10 times more than I have. But my Mayberry education is coming right along, and I’m pretty proud that I can recognize a show in the first 30 seconds. (He can do it in 3 seconds.) Because they’re so familiar, we’re usually both doing other things while Andy’s on (i.e., playing on our phones). But it recently occurred to me that we don’t watch for the shows anymore, but for the comfort it offers in a world that offers everything but peace and a sense of security. And that’s an achievement no other television show—especially a sitcom—can claim.

    Reply
    • Gregory M Pierce - August 16, 2019 12:54 am

      Thank-You, Susan…Well said…Like your husband, I’m more a 3 second kind of guy, who still watches the Andy Griffith show every day. I suppose many of us little boys (I’m 62) can relate to Opie growing up and wanting to have a Father/Son relationship like Andy and Opie had…and who doesn’t want to laugh…I could laugh all day at Barney and Floyd expressions and antics…ah, fond memories, indeed. I still love this show.

      Reply
  19. H J Patterson - August 14, 2019 2:32 pm

    Got any Mayberry favorites Sean? Some of mine are the Christmas episode with Ben Weaver getting locked up, Dogs, Dogs, Dogs with Barney informing us that giraffes are selfish and Earnest T Bass trying to steal Charlene Darling but gets Barney in a wedding dress.

    Reply
  20. Pat - August 14, 2019 2:42 pm

    I was wondering if Mother Mary had her hearing aids in…..it really is difficult to communicate with the hard of hearing especially if they are not using their hearing aids…REALLY DIFFICULT!

    Reply
  21. _emmbeedee_ - August 14, 2019 3:18 pm

    We love Andy Griffith too! I named several of my puppers after characters. Opie, Barney, Goober, Otis and Thelma Lou. We got my brother a boxed set of the episodes for Christmas one year.

    Reply
  22. Linda Moon - August 14, 2019 3:31 pm

    Andy and Barney and all of those characters were the best of the best! Barney Fife needs no extra volume or increased treble. It’s too bad Mother Mary missed a lot of the show’s dialogue, but at least she whistled along. Like John Prine, we can whistle and go fishing in that Mayberry Heaven!

    Reply
  23. Pat Irvin - August 14, 2019 3:50 pm

    As long as we have Andy Griffith reruns, there is hope for this world…

    Reply
  24. Linda Chipman - August 14, 2019 5:27 pm

    Love it when you write about Andy. He was one of a kind. Thank goodness we still have reruns of his great TV show.

    Reply
  25. Mary Anne Weisiger - August 14, 2019 6:11 pm

    Sean, I walked through the woods with Andy once. You probably are not interested in that, BUT, If you want to hear about it, I’ll be in Wicksburg next spring for my grandson’s high school graduation. I read your mail just because you mention places I’ve visited and it warms my heart and reminds me that I have two transplanted sons living in Dothan. Blessings and. Keep up the encouraging words.
    Mary Anne Weisiger

    Reply
  26. Janine - August 14, 2019 6:46 pm

    Thank you Sean!!! Simply, thank you! Could write novels why I love your writing and how it grabs your heartstrings while unlocking your giggle box, the laughter couple with joyful and heartfelt tears combined, while beautifully taking us along your ordinary days you make hilarious, all the while touching our souls.. at least mine! But, know there are countless others like me, saw proof with the standing room only, and out the door, down the street crowd for you at the Page and Pallette book store event recently! Was awesome to hear your voice in person and see you at a distance, but more than grateful for your wonderful blog and fb posts!I love them all!! You make this world a better place, thank you again! Much love and gratitude to you and yours always!!

    Reply
    • Janine - August 14, 2019 7:16 pm

      FYI… your blog may be in a different time zone… not a shock for different demenision haha However, I am cst and don’t live to far from your neck of the woods and my comment post added 5 hours to central time, not sure where that “zone” is, doesn’t matter, but Incase it is something that may help. 🤔🤗There ya have it!

      Reply
  27. Cathy Wilson Weaver - August 14, 2019 8:40 pm

    Most problems in life can be solved with a quote from TAGS. My husband and I carry on long conversations based on Andy-isms. He even puts up jars and jars of “bad old home pickles” (which are actually scrumptious).
    Sean, thanks for your daily dose of goodness. ❤️

    Reply
  28. sholmes53 - August 14, 2019 9:29 pm

    I love, love the show! Each episode is like watching and listening to a parable! Lessons for good living! ❤️

    Reply
  29. Deacon in Louisiana - August 15, 2019 1:16 am

    Many years ago one of the channels aired the Danny Thomas Show that introduced Andy Taylor. It was a two part show where Danny went to jail rather than pay his fine for speeding. Aunt Bea was a widow who had rented a suit for her husband to be buried in and for years paid the rental. It was a treat to see the pilot for the future show. Watch it if you can find it for it is worth the effort. BIack and white Andy is better than in color Andy I believe. Long live Lewis

    Reply
  30. Mary Meadows - August 17, 2019 1:17 pm

    My best to Mary. Many good times in that big old house in Brewton. Jamie looks like Mary back in those days. Enjoy your musings. You are very talented. Mary A Weaver Meadows

    Reply
  31. Joe Patterson - August 17, 2019 1:28 pm

    They don’t make shows like that any more all about love thanks

    Reply
  32. Dianne - August 17, 2019 4:44 pm

    We still love The Andy Griffith Show / Mayberry. Also, am reading your book Stars of Alabama, and loving it!!

    Reply
  33. Gloria - August 19, 2019 8:36 pm

    Visited my home state this summer and my siblings and I went to Mt. Airy – home of Andy Griffith. What a great place! If you get to go, be sure to visit Floyd’s Barber Shop. The gentleman who owns it is the son of the “original” Floyd . It made the visit perfect! Great show – great life lessons. You couldn’t love a better show!

    Reply

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