Mayberry

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This article is about the fictional setting for The Andy Griffith Show. For other uses, see Mayberry (disambiguation).

Mayberry is a fictional community that was the setting for two popular American television sitcoms, The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D. Mayberry was also the setting for a 1986 reunion television movie titled Return to Mayberry. Mayberry was set in North Carolina and is said to be based on Andy Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina.

The name "Mayberry"[edit]

According to show episodes, the community of Mayberry was named for fictional founder Lord Mayberry. Historically, the word Mayberry is of ancient Anglo-Saxon origin and is a locational name, a dialectical variant of the placename Maesbury in Shropshire.[1] Purportedly, Andy Griffith himself chose the name of the fictional community. Griffith however told Larry King in 2003 that Artie Stander is the person who thought of the name Mayberry; Stander was one of the show's creators and writers.[2]

Mayberry is a real community in Patrick County, Virginia, located 22 miles northeast of Andy Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. The Mayberry Trading Post, home of the Mayberry, Virginia post office until it closed in 1922, told local TV station WGHP-TV[3] that Griffith and his father made many trips to the Mayberry Trading Post. Griffith incorporated several community places and names from his childhood home into the show. The term "Mayberry" is mentioned many times in television shows such as Cheers, House, M.D., Criminal Minds, Supernatural, How I Met Your Mother, and Scrubs.[citation needed] According to the episode "The Battle of Mayberry," the town was almost named Taylortown in honor of Colonel Carleton Taylor, who was one of the first settlers in the town. There actually is a Taylortown in North Carolina, but it has nothing to do with the fictional town of Mayberry or the show.

Specific features[edit]

Mayberry had one traffic light and little in the way of indigenous crime with the exception perhaps of moonshining and bootlegging. Out-of-town bank robbers, scam artists, escaped convicts, and vagrants occasionally found their way to Mayberry. The county and the town share the same name and jurisdiction. We learn in episode 44 "Sheriff Barney" from the mayor of nearby Greendale that Mayberry County has had the lowest crime rate in the state for two years in a row under Sheriff Taylor. The town only had one long-distance telephone line, as referenced in the episode "Man in a Hurry", that two old ladies shared each Sunday preventing others from using the telephone.

In the opening scene of season 8, episode 30 (the last episode) a sign at the railroad station lists the population and elevation of Mayberry: Population: 5,360 Elevation: 671

Mayberrians[edit]

Andy does his part for the Mayberry town band. Barney and Gomer are not sure he's helping the cause.

Archetypal small town[edit]

Real-life models[edit]

Many towns in North Carolina have been proposed as "the original Mayberry", but many assume Mayberry was loosely based on Andy Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina, but actually, Griffith has indicated that nearby Pilot Mountain, also in Surry County, North Carolina, inspired him in creating the town. It is likely that Pilot Mountain was the inspiration for the fictional town of "Mount Pilot", a nearby larger town in relation to Mayberry, often referred to and occasionally visited by the characters in The Andy Griffith Show. The county seat of Surry County is in Dobson; thus, this is the location of the nearest courthouse to Mount Airy. One episode has a fictional nearby location - "Pierce County". Another episode has Barney Fife referring to himself and Sheriff Taylor as the law west of Mount Pilot.

Other placenames used in the show refer to actual places in North Carolina, such as Raleigh—which was also often called "Capital City" – Siler City, Winston-Salem, Stokes County, North Carolina, and Charlotte. One of the stars of the show, Frances Bavier (who played Aunt Bee) retired to Siler City in real life. In episode 249 "A Girl For Goober" the towns of Manteo and Toast are mentioned. Andy Griffith owned a home in Manteo (on North Carolina's Atlantic coast), and Toast is about 2 miles outside of Mt. Airy in Surry County. Stokes County, which borders Surry County to the east, is mentioned as the location of Myers Lake in episode 140 "Andy And Helen Have Their Day". In episode 62 "Cousin Virgil" the bus picks up Barney's cousin in Currituck. There is a Currituck County in eastern North Carolina. In episode 17 "Alcohol And Old Lace" while looking for moonshine stills Barney suggests looking into Fancy Gap, Virginia, a town just across the state line from Mt. Airy, N.C. In episode 60 "Bookie Barber" Aunt Bea states that Floyd's Barbershop has received phone calls from as far away as Morehead City. In episode 136 "Opie's Fortune" a man from Bannertown lost $50. Bannertown is a few miles from Mt. Airy in Surry County, NC. In episode 68 "Barney Mends a Broken Heart" the towns of Harnett and Yancey are mentioned. There is both a Harnett County and a Yancey County in North Carolina. In episode 3 "The Guitar Player" played by James Best, who later played Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard, Best's character Jim Lindsey buys his guitar picks in Winston-Salem, which is actually the nearest big city to Mount Airy, NC (37 miles).

Origins and expansion[edit]

Mayberry originated in an episode of The Danny Thomas Show and was the setting for The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry RFD and the 1986 reunion movie Return to Mayberry. Although the county seat of an agricultural county, black people were rarely seen in the original series, but occasionally seen on RFD.

Eponymous real life community[edit]

Mayberry is the name of a real community in Patrick County, Virginia; located 22 miles northeast of Andy Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. The Mayberry Trading Post, home of the Mayberry, Virginia post office until it closed in 1922, told local TV station WGHP-TV[3] that Griffith and his father made many trips to the Mayberry Trading Post.

Town landmarks[edit]

Public buildings[edit]

  • The Mayberry Courthouse — Where Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife maintained law and order. It also contained the county jail—two cells, a back room and the Mayor's office upstairs. No inside stairs are seen, although there is an outside fire escape. Aside from Andy Taylor's home, this was the main setting for The Andy Griffith Show.
  • Mayberry Savings Bank—the town's only bank, which is often subject to robberies. It contains a large vault, and its only security guard is a senile man named Asa, who is constantly sleeping and whose fall-apart dilapidated gun is filled with moldy bullets. {A plot hole is, that in one episode, the vault combination was lost so an extra door was put in the vault. In another episode, Barney Fife gets himself locked in the safe and only escapes by breaking the wall between the vault and the next door beauty parlor!}
  • U.S. Post Office—the town's only post office
  • Mayberry Union High School—the high school from which Andy and Barney graduated in 1945

Houses[edit]

  • Taylor House is a humble, yet handsome, two-story frame house at 332 Maple Road (though once noted by Barney to be on Elm St.), a short walk from the courthouse. Notable features include a front porch with a swing—perfect for conversation and guitar playing, a back porch with an extra refrigerator, and a living room with a high ceiling and rough-hewn (rusticated ashlar) stone fireplace.
  • Mrs. Mendalbright's Rooming House—Barney Fife boards upstairs and his landlady is Mrs. Mendalbright.
  • Thelma Lou's House—the home of Thelma Lou, Barney's girlfriend.
  • Helen Crump's House—the home of Helen Crump, Andy's girlfriend and Opie's teacher.
  • Mrs. Wiley's House—the home of Mrs. Wiley, which is frequently subject to parties, two of which were crashed by Ernest T. Bass.

Entertainment venues[edit]

  • The Grand Theatre—The movie theater where Andy and Barney often took their girlfriends (Helen Crump and Thelma Lou, respectively) on dates.

Commercial buildings[edit]

  • Walker's Drug Store — This was the town drug store and soda shop owned by Fred Walker. His niece Ellie (Elinor Donahue), also a pharmacist, worked there for a while and was Andy's first girlfriend on the show. In the early episodes, characters often talked about "going to Walker's for an ice cream soda."
  • Floyd's Barber Shop — Run by the scatterbrained Floyd Lawson, it was the main center of action in Mayberry. On any given day, it was not unusual to see many of the town's important figures, including the Mayor and the Sheriff, gathered here.
  • Foley's Grocery - Run by Mr. Foley. where Aunt Bee and her friends shop.
  • Emmett's Fix-it Shop — Handyman Emmett Clark's business replaced Floyd's when Howard McNear left the show.
  • Weaver's Department Store — Run by the miserly Ben Weaver.
  • Wally's Filling Station — The town's only known gas station, it employed cousins Gomer Pyle and Goober. It also served as the town's auto repair garage.

Places to eat[edit]

  • Bluebird Diner — This was the restaurant where Barney was often seen calling to talk to his secret love, the enigmatic waitress "Juanita." A man named Frank owns the diner. It is located on the outskirts of Mayberry, near Myer's Lake. In Mount Airy, North Carolina, there is a family owned restaurant called the Bluebird Diner.
  • Snappy Lunch — A Mayberry diner named after a real eatery that still serves lunch in Mount Airy, North Carolina.
To eat and stay[edit]
  • Mayberry Hotel — Where out-of-towners often stayed, the Mayberry Hotel was also where choir director John Masters was employed.

Physical landmarks[edit]

  • Myer's Lake – As seen in the opening credits of The Andy Griffith Show, it was the place Andy and Opie Taylor went fishing, and where Barney often drove with Thelma Lou for their "romantic getaways." The fictional lake was mentioned on the show as being located in Stokes County, North Carolina. Stokes County is a real county next to Surry County where Andy Griffith was born and raised.

In popular culture[edit]

Due to the success and fame of the television show, "Mayberry" has been used as a term for both idyllic small town life and for rural simplicity (for both good and ill).

In a song by Rascal Flatts titled "Mayberry". Mayberry is mentioned: "Well I miss Mayberry sitting on the porch drinking ice cold Cherry Coke where everything is black and white."

In the song called "Grandpa's Interview" on the Neil Young album Greendale: "Shows with love and affection, Like mama used to say, A little Mayberry livin', Can go a long way."

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Behind the Scenes of the Real Mayberry A behind the scenes look at The Andy Griffith Show and the real Mayberry, includes filming locations, the stars made on the show, and Mayberry trivia.