On Oct. 3, 1960, at 9:30 p.m. the history of television and North Carolina changed forever when a six-year-old boy, Opie Taylor (Ron Howard), and his father, Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) walked side-by-side down the dirt trail, carrying fishing poles with the “The Fishin Hole” song playing in the background for the first time.
For eight seasons and 249 half-hour episodes, viewers tuned in week-after-week to see Sheriff Taylor and the characters of Mayberry going through the motions of everyday life. First, you have Opie, the son of Sheriff Taylor, who goes through his fair share of growing pains, but always has his father to turn to for advice. Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts), Sheriff Taylor’s right-hand man, had a memorable comedic style which was the highlight of the show. Next, there are the cousins, Gomer and Goober Pyle (Jim Nabors and George Lindsay) who enjoy goofing off, yet are excellent mechanics. Then there is Aunt Bee (Francis Bavier), the housekeeper of the Taylor house, who can cook anything and put anyone in their place when they step out of line. And do not forget about, Floyd Lawson (Howard McNear), the town barber, who’s haircuts are $1.00. Best of all there is the titular character himself, Andy Taylor, who keeps the town of Mayberry at peace. But should trouble arise in Mayberry, citizens turn to the Sheriff and the Justice of Peace to restore order.
A must-see episode is “The Haunted House.” While playing baseball with his friend Arnold (Ronnie Dap), Opie breaks a window of an abandoned house. However, Opie and Arnold are scared to retrieve the ball due to the house being haunted. The boys turn to Andy, Barney and Gomer for help. The adults are scared to go inside, but they eventually investigate the house and retrieve Opie’s baseball. At the same time, the trio discovers that the house is not haunted after all. The house served as a sanctuary for Otis “the Town Drunk” Campbell (Hal Smith) and Big Jack Anderson (Nestor Pavia) when they are not being apprehended by Sheriff Taylor—who catches them in the act.
“The Andy Griffith Show” also put North Carolina in the spotlight being the first-ever television show to be set in the Tar Heel state. The setting for the show, Mayberry, North Carolina, is a small city that is based on Griffith’s hometown, Mount Airy, North Carolina. Thanks to the success of Griffith’s show, Mount Airy became a popular tourist attraction. Tourists can visit Griffth’s childhood home, get a haircut at Floyd’s City Barber Shop, tour the Mayberry Courthouse & Jail and learn about Griffith’s life and career at the Andy Griffith Playhouse. The biggest attraction is the Andy Griffth Museum. Founded by Emmett Forsett in 2009, the museum houses artifacts from the show, Griffth’s life and family and a statue of Griffith and Howard as Sheriff Taylor and Opie—dedicated by TV Land in 2004—depicting the iconic scene from the show’s opening credits.
Mount Airy also hosts “Mayberry Days," a festival that takes place on the last week of September. Attendees can dress up as characters, participate in the town parade and listen to music from the popular sitcom.
The last episode of “The Andy Griffith Show" titled ”Mayberry RFD," was broadcasted on April 1, 1968. However, the show still remains popular today. Thanks to syndication, streaming and home video releases, audiences, old and new, get to see Andy and Opie walking down that dirt road, reminding everyone of the simpler times in life.