I grew up with Andy Griffith. I think Opie and I are about the same age. I didn’t have an Aunt Bea but I did have a Great Aunt Tillie. All neighborhoods were small towns in those days. We had an Otis, we had a Floyd and he had a red and white pole, although we didn’t have a Barney. Andy’s family was non-traditional and he was in North Carolina and no one, in those days, was passing legislation against them. Also, I watched the show from a city in New York with more African Americans than the small North Carolina town he protected and nurtured with his easy going ways. This later caused confusion for me. Only a little, though.
And this joke, do you remember this joke? It’s Barney talking: “Andy, Andy, come quickly! Opie’s in the attic with Aunt Bea and he’s got a gun!” (Maybe that was just the Viet Nam War vets I was hanging around with…)
I know a lot of younger people remember Anje from his later work portraying a lawyer, but I always think of him as the arch-typical small town Sheriff in an imaginary South that is not where In the Heat of the Night was set.
Andy Griffith died this morning at the age of 86. Hat tip: Ashley Miller.