I don't watch a lot of television. Running a newspaper and raising two little girls takes a lot of doing. Doesn't leave much time to catch up on the stories of the small screen.
But sometimes things will slow down at the paper when the afternoon rolls around. And it's not yet time to go pick up the little ones from FBC Weekday Center. So in these moments I find myself switching on the television in my office. The channel of choice is TV Land. The show I'm looking for is Andy Griffith.
That's right, one of my favorite television programs is the good old 1950s-60s "Andy Griffith Show." It just doesn't get any better than watching the exploits of kindly Mayberry sheriff Andy Taylor and his loveable band of supporting characters.
Their names all hold a special place in my heart. There's Barney, Andy's cousin and by-the-books loyal deputy. There's Opie, the redheaded son who cleaned out the shed, chopped the wood, put out the milk bottles, cut the grass and just about any other chore you could think of in order to earn his weekly allowance of 25 cents.
There's Aunt Bea and her delicious fried chicken and apple pies. There's Otis with his moonshine and weekly visits to the jail so he could sleep off that night's hooch. He's got choir practice to get to after all. Then there's Floyd the shaky handed barber, Goober and Gomer the cousins and resident mechanical whiz kids, Ernest T. Bass – well we all should remember Ernest T.
I sit back and laugh, enjoying the good nature of the shows. They lack vulgarity, crudeness and violence of today's television world. They hearken to a simpler time when the world hadn't moved on, people hadn't gotten so busy with "making life easier" only to go ahead and made things a heck of a lot harder.
You didn't work on Sundays in Mayberry. Stores weren't open at all. They also closed early on Wednesday and the Mom and Pop store was the backbone of America's way of life.
I was born in 1978; so all my formative years have been consumed with the hectic nature of the world we've made. I'm probably romanticizing the notion of life a half century ago. Television life is always better than real life, even back then. But I can't help but think that way of life in the days of Andy was simpler, more peaceful, less break-neck.
Morals were taught in every episode. Life lessons were learned. The shows didn't revolve around Andy trying to go to bed with every "skirt" that he met at the drugstore. They didn't center on Andy bashing heads or going undercover and developing a drug addiction.
The shows focused on a man raising his son, teaching the boy right from wrong and of the importance of friends, making good decisions and being responsible. All with some of the cleverest writing ever penned by a Hollywood scribe.
I love the show and look forward to the chances I get to flip on the set and go back in time. Back to a world with exchanges like this:
Barney Fife: Well, today's eight-year-olds are tomorrow's teenagers. I say this calls for action and now. Nip it in the bud. First sign of youngsters going wrong, you've got to nip it in the bud.
Andy Taylor: I'm going to have a talk with them. What else do you want me to do?
Barney Fife: Well, don't just mollycoddle them.
Andy Taylor: I won't.
Barney Fife: Nip it. You go read any book you can on the subject of child discipline and you'll find every one of them is in favor of bud nipping.
Andy Taylor: What are you doing?
Barney Fife: Gun-drawing practice, ten minutes every day. If I ever have to use this baby, I want to teach it to come to papa in a hurry.
And, finally, this:
Andy Taylor: Somewhere wandering loose around Mayberry is a loaded goat.
Josh Beavers is the publisher of the Minden Press-Herald. He is a two-time recipient of the Best Newspaper Column award given annually by the Louisiana Press Association.