Andy Griffith died Tuesday and a part of me perished with him.
I adored Andy Griffith.
He was accomplished on radio, the stage, in movies and on television. Many remember him from his lead role on the TV series Matlock. And he was a superb pitchman.
Who can forget his famous Ritz Crackers commercial in 1977?: “Mmmm-mmm. Everything tastes great when it sits on a Ritz.”
But to me, he will always be Sheriff Andy Taylor in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina.
The Andy Griffith Show was my church.
With brilliant writing and a spot-on cast, it taught you how to love, how to treat people, how to earn respect. The series is timeless because it promoted values that never go out of style.
The show ran from 1960-68, and I’ve seen every episode more than once.
I can still picture the grimaces of Andy and deputy Barney Fife as they bite into one of Aunt Bee’s “kerosene cucumbers.” Everyone tiptoeing around the goat who ate dynamite. Teaching Ernest T. Bass manners. Andy playing guitar with The Darlings.
In one of the best cameos, Buddy Ebsen plays a hobo who charms young Opie before realizing, with the urging of a father, that he must let the boy down.
The most touching part of the show, however, was the relationship between Andy and Fife, played by comedic genius Don Knotts.
Andy always had his buddy’s back, saving him from embarrassment and propping him up when he felt down. If the camaraderie seemed real, it’s because it was. The actors were longtime pals.
We need more people like Andy Griffith. We need more places like Mayberry.
Rest in peace, Andy.