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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Longing for the Simplicity of Mayberry

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?

14 comments:

Blair said...

There are many who think you and I are living this same kind of life in 2009. Just ask around. Simple. Fairly stress-free days. Great times with friends. Music in the house. A great little dog. Peaceful afternoons of writing or evenings watching TV Land or the Travel Channel. Sitting outdoors grilling and sipping wine on nice spring and summer evenings with friends. I think in comparison we have it pretty easy and I wouldn't change a thing! We just need to figure out which one of us is Aunt Bee. I thing we both aleady know.

Ultra Dave said...

My grandfather and I always watched Andy. He knew every single episode! There is something about the simple, unhurried pace of a small town. I've watched mine grow over the years and it is almost disheartening at the changes.

Sorted Lives said...

I remember both shows with fond memories. I am sure our grandparents may think of the 70's differently than we do, times were simplier (or maybe that is how we saw it).

Tony (LT) said...

You know I am a big fan of both the show and the lifestyle. I highly recommend it.

wcs said...

I live with a Tar Heel. We live in the country. People don't lock their doors around here. We sit on the front deck and wave to the neighbors. We share garden produce. There are town dinners and dances (not that we go to many of those).

And we always watched the AGS whenever it was on back in the US. It was like his boyhood. I guess it was kind of like all of ours, at least those of us over 40.

G'night Opie.

cb said...

I totally enjoy escaping to "simpler times" for vacation. Beach. Cabin. No phones. Whatnot.

But I couldn't live that way-- at least comfortably.

J.P. said...

My friend we are wired very much alike. I could easily give up all the "i" for a life that is more of what was shown on The Andy Griffith Show. Admittedly, I'd like to add a touch of Samantha's tinka-tinka-tink to the mix, but like I I enjoy those moments of a simpler life.

Greg said...

Shows like The Walton and The Andy Griffith Show (and even I Love Lucy) are such fun shows. Simple humor, simpler lives -- nothing complicated like today.

Mark in DE said...

Having moved from the fast-paced Washington DC suburbs to our tiny little historic town, Spouse has many times referred to us now living in 'Mayberry'. Though we miss many of the conveniences of 'the big city', there is much to be enjoyed in Mayberry.

tomaspdx said...

Well, it was nice to know, that even back then, one could sneak off to Mt. Pilot or Siler City for a little city action!

"Tommy" said...

yes the simpler life for sure...

maybe one day....

tommy

bridgeout said...

You paint a warm and welcoming picture there. I imagine that is how I would feel--even just a little--if I were to ever grace your loving home. :)

Steven said...

You bring back many memories of yesteryear. Memories that I wish we could live in this techno-age. It's what I like about vacationing. I do not take my laptop with me and keep my cell phone off (most of the time).

And if The Waltons tired you on CBS, you turned on Family on ABC with Kristy McNichol. :-)

Thom said...

I *love* The Andy Griffith Show. I agree with you, it's somehow very comforting to watch. I have to admit that I broke down a few summers ago and bought the box set of the entire series, and I've watched the whole thing TWICE so far.