Mayberry Alive and Well
Sheriff Andy Taylor succumbed this week. Thankfully we won’t forget him and should not. In our hearts he represented the good man, the good citizen, the good public official. Actually he was the epitome of what Alexis de Tocqueville said, “America is great because America is good.”
Reading the public prints, watching and listening to the news on any of the newfangled gadgets flooding consumers de Tocqueville could be excused if he had second thoughts.
Of course, too many journalists, commentators, writers and all those brimming with “cacoethes scribendi” subscribe boldly and regularly to the idea that good news is not good news. In other words, the good citizens out there prefer pap instead of pleasant and uplifting stories.
Sheriff Taylor didn't carry a gun. He didn’t have to. Mayberry was heaven. Today disrespect runs rampant throughout the land and it seems rules and regulations are not important. But they are and common sense is vital.
Mayberry was really Mount Airy, Andy Griffith’s North Carolina hometown, not Frederick County. Mount Airy in Frederick County is a quaint place and Sheriff Taylor would enjoy lunch in one of the pleasant family restaurants.
Communities in Frederick County do have the charming surroundings and are worth touring during these hot days of summer. It is important the joys of these towns be noted. A recent visitor could be talking about Frederick and the county towns when he says “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."
A sheriff friend keeps a photograph of Andy Taylor in a prominent spot in his office, a reminder of those values that America is truly great. This feeling begins in the families, towns, farms, churches, schools and with individual community leaders.
It would be nice to think that local sheriff’s deputies, police officers and State Troopers didn’t need their Glocks and tasers and could just have one bullet in their pocket. Reality requires them to be prepared. Every day their lives are on the line. In the jails and lockups there’s no way cells can be left unlocked, that locals can merely use the cots as a resting place.
Fun and inspiration always come in dreamlands. Hard times in daily living force those wistful times of Mayberry, Lake Wobegon, Mitford, Hawkins Falls. It’s good to get away from the nasty and unpleasant headlines. It’s not the fault of editors who write the bold words. Unfortunately, the public prints, using an old expression here, merely reflect people, places and things. This is food for thought.
The wisdom of Andy Taylor, nee Andy Griffith, is warm and pleasant. Garrison Keillor’s humor and stories from Lake Wobegon give laughs and recipes. Jan Karon’s Mitford books are stimulating, happy and soothing. Hawkins Falls? I ran home from grammar school in 1950 for the four o’clock show to watch on a 14-inch black and white set. We only had one channel in those days.
Hawkins Falls was the first network hour-long “soap opera” live from Chicago. My favorite character was Clate Weathers. The story was he got sick. To help recovery he wrote letters to the weekly newspaper. Soon he was … a working newsman.
A favorite retired “newspaperman” corresponds regularly. Using a typewriter, not a computer and an Ernie Pyle commemorative stamp, he wrote with this wisdom: Diplomacy is the ability to let someone else have your way.” His reality jumped in with this: “When all else fails, grab the problem by the throat,” (signed) Periwinkle Jones. "Cacoethes scribendi?” The itch to write.
Sheriff Taylor, R.I.P.