Andy Griffin is dead. Hard to believe the affable, good natured, sheriff Andy Taylor, the guardian of the small town of Mayberry has passed on. He may be gone but he will never be forgotten. Andy will live on in the hearts and minds of those of us fortunate to have grown up with the show or to have caught it in reruns. Even now more than 40 years later it’s still on TV. I was about 9 when the show went on the air and 17 when it aired its final episode. Even now as I’m writing I can hear the shows theme song whistling through my head. What a terrific show. Good old level headed Andy who never saw a need in carrying a gun was quite a guy. As both sheriff and father he had his hands full keeping Barney his deputy in line and raising his young son Opie.
The show was certainly entertaining. With a cast of crazies like Barney, Gomer, Goober, Floyd the barber, Otis, Aunt Bee, and a host of others what else could you expect. It was small town life at its best! But what I remember most about the show is that Sheriff Taylor was a great dad. He was very involved in his sons life. He could be quite understanding but stern when he needed to. He was always ‘firm but fair.’ As a teacher that was my philosophy in the classroom. I used to have a sign up behind my desk with those words on it, ‘Firm but Fair.’ That is how I always tried to deal with my students. Funny, but until this moment I never saw the connection between Sheriff Taylor’s approach to dealing with Opie and Barney and my classroom management technique, but there is one. Maybe Andy’s role model had been buried somewhere in my mind just waiting to get out. Whatever the case ‘Firm but Fair’ worked for me. Andy was never quick to anger, he was thoughtful and in most cases, mild mannered. But he was no push over. He did what needed to be done. His relationship with Opie was loving with just the right degree of discipline. He was a good dad.
I always wanted my dad to be like sheriff Taylor. I’m sure other kids did as well. My dad was Andy’s opposite in every way. He was stern, quick to anger, and sometimes down right mean. We had a pretty stormy relationship. To say that we butted heads is an understatement. My dad was a rough and tough truck driving man who had no time to take me fishing, camping, sporting events or to even toss a ball around. I have zero memory of even once sitting in the stands at any type of sporting event with my dad. I always wished we’d had that kind of bond.
While my friends were going to Dodger or Ram games with there dads or going camping and boating, being involved with Pop Warner or Little League, I was doing chores or going to work with him. You see, we got along best when our activity was work related like yard work, going on long truck deliveries, working on Saturdays with him and my grandpa pouring concrete, things like that. Now don’t get me wrong, I cherish some of those times, they were special. As a kid we hang on to whatever we can that feels good. Sometimes those working situations were all I had with him. I only wish that the relationship we shared in work activities could have carried over to other things like sports, camping or fishing. That would have been great. Sheriff Taylor always made time to spend with Opie, special time for just the two of them. I wish I could have had that. Man I loved that show.
Farewell Andy, you will be missed.