Remembering Andy Griffith

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By W.B. Evans

Betcha my Independence Day was pretty much like the one you just celebrated. Well, maybe not.

The grilled steaks and sweet iced tea were good, but the July 3 death of Andy Griffith sorta dampened my enthusiasm. I opted to watch the fireworks going off over the Mall in Washington, D.C., via TV.

I did feel sorry for the folks in San Diego and seeing how their July 4 fireworks popped at one time.

It reminded me of the time my son tossed a match on the box of firecrackers, roman candles and sparklers.
After we got over the shock, the brightest thing the rest of that night was his seat, if you get my drift.

But sometimes, that’s the way it goes for families, which is why the death of Sheriff Andy is sad for me.

I first heard Griffith on clear channel radio out of Del Rio, Texas, while driving through Georgia en route to Cape Canaveral.

His voice and record pretty much blended in with the road I was traveling down. I can’t remember all the words, but I recalled his comments about a road sign that it was only 10 more miles to Stuckeys.

Bless Pete, those pecan log rolls sure were good. Sorta wish I had one right now.

While mulling through a cyberspace newspaper announcement of Griffith’ death at age 86, I stumbled across quite a few reader comments who praised the actor and his down-home mannerisms and Southern smalltown charm.
Stuck right in the middle was one comment that got me stirred up. Seems as if this one reader doesn’t believe the old days ever existed.

“Those simple ways were only Hollywood make-believe,” the reader wrote.

Now, I hate to break it to this fella, but evidently he never hung out with Sheriff Major Evans and Uncle Walter or heard any of those front porch political stories I eavesdropped on.

By the way, fishin’ holes, ice cream socials and family values were real in the “old days,” too.

Why this fella probably doesn’t know where Chesterfield Avenue is, either. Oh well, his loss.

I can’t speak for anyone but me, but I do remember the days from my youth when things were done with common sense mentality and methods.

It was also a time when lots of folks were doing without, but makin’ do.

For one thing, people were just better neighbors.

Shucks, I can remember going out to fetch the newspaper one hot, sticky summer morning (a job I sorta grew into since I was usually the first one up). With a world war in full swing, I had to see what was going on in Europe. Shucks, if I was real lucky, there might be a new map in the paper that showed what was happening where.
I was busy looking through the paper and was wasn’t paying that much attention until I got back to the porch to grab the milk bottles by the front door.

All I found was air. The jugs were gone; no empties, no nothing!

Turns out we didn’t have a dairy bandit running wild. What we had was a concerned, neighborly neighbor who was an earlier riser than me.

Seems he noticed the hot sun beaming across our porch, so he picked up the bottles and put them in his ice box until he saw somebody stirring around at our house.

Goodness, more than once when I grabbed that door knob to go get the paper, the door had remained unlocked all night.

Nothing was missing or disturbed downstairs and everybody upstairs was still in one piece.

Nowadays, square-headed deadbolt locks, door chains, security latches and alarms are installed on all outer doors.
Seeing a passerby pick up trash blowing across our front yard was a common sight. Gosh, I gather up fast food wrappers and plastic grocery bags every morning.

Remember when you got your britches dusted by a neighbor? After the shock wore off, you would high-tail it home to tell your mother before the hallway phone rang.

You might end up with another swat or two “for good measure,” but bless Pete, it sure went better if Mama heard the “acting up” news firsthand from you.

Just the other day in public, I gave a misbehavin’ Madison a pop on the hand. I looked up to find a dozen or so “supercenter” customers giving me the evil eye.

I was waiting, but nobody said anything. These days, I try to be careful when it comes to words. I don’t have a whole lot to spare, but I was ready to give them one of those replies I heard down at the filling station when the grease rack unexpectedly came down.

You know, if Opie would’ve been acting that way, “America’s Favorite Sheriff” would’ve done the same thing.
Come to think of it, Barney would, too.