Andy Griffith, who worked in the wonderful world of television long before most of us were born, has died at the age of 86 following years of health issues. You may remember him as Matlock, from the show of the same name, which has been playing on every grandparent’s television set since 1986.
I remember Andy Griffith from The Andy Griffith Show, which, to be clear, was off the air years before I was born, but thanks to an era when we had less channels than fingers I grew up with his show (and many other treasures) as part of my pop culture education.
Even then, back in the days of shag carpet and turtlenecks, the life found in Griffith’s fictional town of Mayberry seemed too safe, too innocent, and had nothing on the real life grit of such hard-hitting situational comedies as The Brady Bunch which better understood the Johnny Bravo growing deep inside a generation of well-coiffed boys. Still, it spoke to me.
My town was small and rural, and it had comedic characters that I tended to cast along the lines of those that graced Mayberry. And so it was that when I saw the local deputy drive down the street I pictured Barney Fife (Don Knotts) fidgeting behind the wheel. The mechanic resembled Goober and everybody had an Aunt Bee. There was comfort there.
However, it was the character of Opie (Ron Howard), a little boy growing up with a fishing pole over his shoulder and the sweetest kind of mischief in his heart, that really hit home. The relationship between Opie and his father Andy Taylor (Griffith) greatly influenced my own behavior on both sides of the father-son dynamic.
I sat on the floor in my grandparents’ living room watching Andy Griffith on TV, the same living room and the same TV that my grandparents would watch Matlock on for decades to come, and I saw a boy and his dad take on the world with humor and kindness — and I liked it.
These days I have two sons of my own and what they lack in fishing poles they more than make up for in sweetness and mischief, and when we set out on the road to adventure it is often with a song in our collective heart. It is something catchy and fun to whistle, and it lends itself nicely to the paths ahead. We face them with humor and kindness.
Our thoughts to the family, friends, and fans of Andy Griffith.
As I was writing this I realized that it is the second farewell post I have written about a man that played the father to one of Ron Howard’s characters. I’m not sure what that means, other than Ron Howard was lucky enough to work with two of the best TV dads, and from what I hear, nicest men, in the industry. You can read my post “Sad News From Happy Days” about the passing of Tom Bosley at DadCentric.
Read more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).
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