I'm not quite sure exactly what it is that draws me to shows like The Waltons or The Andy Griffith Show. But I could watch the black-and-whites forever. Whenever TV Land is running an Andy Griffith marathon, I love to enjoy it just before bed (and when they are not, it's Family Guy!). I don't watch Andy often, though, because Lover Boy makes comments once in a while about how much I like Andy and his gang of characters from Mayberry (good thing he wasn't around when The Waltons was on TV...because it was an hour-long show every Monday evening...not just half an hour). In spite of being a guy who is clearly addicted to his laptop and loves technology, I am drawn in a powerful, and much different, way to the simpler times when Barney would just come on in through the unlocked back door for his morning coffee. I can almost imagine simply parking myself on a bench in the center of Mayberry and resting. All day long. I am not a person who is easily bored and I don't need to be entertained. I can sit for hours while looking, watching, thinking -- so sitting all day on a bench would not be difficult for me. I mean, seriously, can you imagine a world today without cable or color television, mobile telephones, I-"anything," zippy cars of every sort and color, Dunkin Donuts, Wal Mart, Target, ice dispensers in the refrigerator, and the list goes on forever. It's difficult to comprehend in a world where a piece of fruit has taken over nearly every daily thought pattern.
You know what I like most about the AGS is the quiet of his front porch when the evening has fallen heavily across a quiet day and the peacefulness of the rockers are in tune with the gentle strumming of Andy's guitar. And the chirp of the crickets blowing in off of a nighttime breeze through open windows, gently tossing aside the curtains in true fashion. Even in our last house, the bedroom was upstairs. I could lay there on summer evenings and look out on our quiet side street with the three old hazelnut trees tucked neatly along our side yard. And as the season warmed, the crickets would signal their happiness with a sound that only the gods could create. And I would frequently be transported right back to those times -- an era of no garages to park the car in, dirty barefoot children jumping into cold streams in the middle of hot summer, adults in the shade with sweet tea at the end of a long, hard day of work. Not a cell phone in sight nor a laptop signaling "you've got mail."
And as much fun as we've all made about the "Good night, John Boy" closing lines from nearly every Walton's episode, something about it always lured me in. Because many times, that's how it'd be at our house. Not all of us yelling back and forth across the hallway -- but my parents would always come in to tuck us in bed and kiss us on our sweaty foreheads. And no matter how bad the day had been or what had transpired in our little Mayberry, it was now time to put that all to rest.
I am not a person who longs for, or lives in, the past nor one who is dragged kicking and screaming into the future -- in spite of the clear fact that my childhood memories are etched into the crevasses of my mind in a deep way. But there is so much about simpler times that pries itself into my heart. We love driving trips and even making up silly little games like "let's take a trip to Boise and see if we can do it without going on the freeway." We've done that one time. It's a whole other world when you get off of the expressways of today and back onto the side roads of yesterday. But much of it has already gone. The simple, unadorned homes, mom-and-pop gas stations (or service stations, as they were called back then) and the dust of the car rolling up behind you as you pull off to the side of the road and into the parking lot of the general store. You'll probably find a Nehi Grape Soda in the cooler. Enjoy one for me, would you?