Show Rerun Watchers Club (may
berry.com), an online community of
fans, has 1,350 chapters nationwide.
All this for a man who makes few
public appeareances, who doesn’t
give interviews, and whose trademark series went off the air in 1968.
I WAS THREE years old when The
Andy Griffith Show debuted in
October 1960, and 11 when it ended. Like others of my generation, I
ran to the television like Pavlov’s
dog when I heard the theme song’s
lilting whistle. I was a kid of the
New Jersey suburbs, which were
far in spirit from small-town North
Carolina. Mayberry struck me as
unspeakably foreign, like those
beach towns of southern California
where teens in surfer movies lived.
A town of picnic baskets and harmless eccentrics.
Ken Anderson lived in a small town like this. He’s the
author of Mayberry Reflections, a sort of Monarch Notes
to the first four seasons. Ken grew up in Wisconsin and,
for him, the show rings true. “We sat on our porch, and we
knew every person who walked by,” he says. “A lot of towns
were like Mayberry. Once my generation is gone—and I’m
63—that type of life will be gone.”
Which is why so many folks take Exit 100 off I-77 to
downtown Mount Airy, Andy Griffith’s hometown. The
town lacks the visual exactitude of Mayberry—the show’s
exteriors were filmed on a back lot in Culver City, and some
of the buildings served as Atlanta in Gone With the Wind—
but Mount Airy has heartily embraced its role as a real-life
Mayberry. In 1989, when Russell Hiatt changed the name of
his shop from City Barber Shop to Floyd’s, out-of-towners
began streaming in for haircuts (more than 700,000 visitors
have signed his guest books). This did not escape the notice
of other Mount Airy enterprises. I stayed at the Mayberry
Motor Inn (formerly the Mount Airy Motel), across from
the Colonial Mayberry Mall and Aunt Bee’s Barbecue.
Walking through downtown, I passed Opie’s Candy Store,
Mayberry Country Store, Barney’s café, Mayberry Embroi-
dery, and Snappy Lunch, which opened in 1923 and is the
only “Mayberry” business that predates the show. In the
seventh episode of the first season, Andy suggests to Barney
that they double-date and stop for a bite at Snappy Lunch
after the picture show. Travelers have heeded Andy’s advice
ever since, still lining up today for Snappy’s fried-pork-chop-
The actual town is larger than the fictional one ( 10,800
Mount Airy residents versus 1,800 in Mayberry), but visitors find an old-fashioned main street with an old-fashioned
hardware store that has a potbelly stove. There’s a genuine
small-town affability here, despite the erosion of small-town
MAYBERRY MANIA Above: Pastries from Roselli’s Bakery in Mount Airy; a replica
squad car at the Mayberry Motor Inn. Opposite page: Mount Airy’s Main Street isn’t
all that different from when Andy Griffith grew up here. The Emmett’s Fix-It Shop
truck is fake, but barber Russell Hiatt isn’t: he trims hair at Floyd’s City Barber Shop.
life. Over my pork chop sandwich I read an article in the
local paper with a Mayberry-like headline: “Retired Schoolteacher Reminisces About 40 Years in the School System.”
But the content diverged: “Children didn’t bring guns to
school then,” the teacher said. “If they had a problem they
would just fight—but it’s different now.” With factories moving overseas, Mount Airy has lost nearly 3,100 textile jobs
since 1999. Yet the gap between the “real” Mayberry and the
“fictional” Mayberry doesn’t concern most visitors. The real
Mayberry, after all, isn’t found on a map. It’s a state of being.
THIS MAYBERRY SPIRIT extends far beyond Mount Airy.
Marsha and Dave Scheuermann own the Taylor Home Inn
in Clear Lake, Wisconsin. When I called them, the answering machine clicked on with the show’s whistling theme,
followed by a sign-off message: “Have a very Mayberry day!”
Marsha and Dave met in an online chatroom for Andy Griffith
fans, then in person in 1997 when a group of Internet buddies
traveled to Mount Airy for Mayberry Days (mayberrydays
.org), an annual September event celebrating all things Andy.
Marsha and Dave married soon after. They discussed building a room devoted to Andy Griffith in their new home—but
then their dream, as dreams will do, got unruly. Why not the
whole house? And why not share it with others?
The inn, which opened in 2006, is a meticulous replica of
Andy Taylor’s TV home. They designed it by watching every
episode, some as many as 200 times (“It wasn’t bad punishment,” Marsha notes). They built a two-foot-square model
of Andy’s home to work out the details, employing a clever
geometry. Knowing that Andy was a little over six feet tall,
they used him as a unit of measurement—call it a “Griffith”—
when plotting out room sizes. “My husband is a stickler for
details,” says Marsha, perhaps unnecessarily.
Within weeks of the inn’s opening, thanks to an Associated
Press story, Marsha and Dave received (CONTINUED ON PAGE 74)