Mayberry more than a TV myth

Nancy Farley Published:

The recent passing of actor Andy Griffith has prompted the marathon running of his old television shows, taking us back to Mayberry, to a place though “frozen” in time, still greatly “warms” the hearts of those who long for the return of such a culture.

Andy exemplifies strong character in every episode, using simplicity to teach great lessons in honesty, forgiveness, patience and compassion, all the while upholding peace and justice in that sleepy little 1950s/1960s American town. What a contrast to many of our leaders today whose talent, unfortunately, carries them further than their character can sustain them. Herein lies the difference in two American cultures – the one today and the one 50 years ago.

I hear so many in my generation speak of those “good old days,” and wonder how we lost so much in seemingly so little time. They mourn the move from our once capitalistic system toward a socialistic one, looking ahead to what could happen after socialism too has run its course, wondering what kind of country it will be for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


Disagree if you want, but capitalism can’t work without morality.

The citizens of that fictitious little Mayberry were actually not too far from the reality that permeated America in those days. I know, because I remember being there when a person’s word was as good as any written contract, when so many of those qualities Andy and his friends exemplified really existed in our everyday life.

American families were largely intact, and fathers stepped up to take their responsibilities in child rearing much like Andy demonstrated as he passed his wisdom on to his little son as they chatted on the other end of a fishing pole, doing simple activities together, but doing just that – being together.  More importantly, Andy’s little boy witnessed his father’s character in motion, where he put feet to his words and modeled good behavior.

So, what happened? Little by little America began to change. As Evangelist Billy Graham writes, “We have somehow lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.  We have killed the unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.  We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.”

These are the just a few of the changes I have witnessed in my own lifetime, and I realize that for some they are considered to be good changes, believing our country is better today than it was in Mayberry. But, for others there is a strong disagreement, a desire for a return to the way it was back then, to recapture those values that once identified America.


Could that ever happen?  Remember that change will not come about from our politicians; it must come from within each indvidual. Our hearts must change so  that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Then, and only then can we walk with Andy down that street in Mayberry, not just on the old black-and-white reruns, but in the living color of 2012.

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  • We also had blatant discrimination and violence against those of other races, as well as women of all nationalities. The "morality" back then was entrenched, and anyone disagreeing with the prevailing mores was patronized,stigmatized, ostracized, or worse. There was little or no room for individualism. Anyone who was "different" in any way was constantly reminded of the fact, and bore the brunt of being considered not quite as good, or privileged, or strong in character. This was true regarding any difference at all. For instance, I grew up as a female without a father (he died) and in a poor family. Believe me, I was constantly reminded, in myriad social and educational ways, of all three of these conditions. I was frequently called white trash, although I lived in a loving, law-abiding home. Certain avenues, open for others, were simply not open for me. Excelling in school or other endeavours only went so far--and often, not far enough. I understand what you're saying about the Mayberry years, and I agree in many ways. I was raised with much the same values as exemplified in the show. However, let's not let nostalgia gloss over the very real inequities and cruelties that were as much a fabric of that life as the good qualities.