Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Andy Griffith

courtesy of North Carolina
State Archives
from Flickr
Wednesday July 4th, 10:00 a.m.

Perhaps it is somewhat fitting that I write this entry on the 4th of July, since it deals with the passing of an American TV icon. Not to say that Andy Griffith should be compared to Abraham Lincoln or George Washington. I'm well aware that he was an actor, singer and pitchman for Ritz Crackers, but whenever I think of my early days as a TV watcher, Sheriff Andy Taylor will always be that fictional but comfortable figure of Americana for me.

It's been recently said that as one gets older, one can only remember the last half of life with good clarity. The first half of life's memories ends up becoming mere flashes of images. Still, one image that has still remained crystal clear in my mind all these years is the opening credits for "The Andy Griffith Show", with Andy and Opie walking down to the nearest pond for a round of fishing while the theme song is being whistled. Even in this day and age of Bieber, Gaga and Rihanna, that simple tune can be remembered by most people above the age of 20, I assume.

As I was watching the tribute feature on him on the CTV News last night, the reporter pointed out that even when the show was being aired for the first time, it was already being labeled as something out of the 30s. And watching reruns of the show over the decades, I can only imagine what life must've been like in a small North Carolina town where apple pies could be seen cooling on the window sill, the local lawman could be seen more often brandishing a guitar than a gun, prisoners were actually lovable, and locks were merely seen as optional on doors. Most likely a very fictional scenario even back then, but wasn't it nice to see such a peaceful town as Mayberry?

Andy Griffith may have started out his career as a slightly eccentric happy-go-lucky guy with a guitar, but he would always strike me as the ideal patriarch/career professional. Laconic, friendly, sage and leaderly (if such an adverb exists....according to my Spellcheck, it does not). He even brought some of that into his Ritz ads and "Matlock".

I don't know if "The Andy Griffith Show"ever made it out to Japan, although in the early postwar period, a lot of American TV programs did get out there to make up for the lack of domestic programming at the time. However, "Matlock"was a fixture on local cable TV.

It would be too maudlin....and false....if I said that with Griffith's passing, another link to an innocent time has been severed. Instead, with all of today's technology and archiving, Andy Taylor and that theme song will continue to go on and welcome viewers to his small imaginary town.