As I've said before--many times--I grew up in Mayberry.
While I may not have lived between Mt. Pilot and Raleigh, Barnesville, Georgia, was close enough.
It was a place where you could leave your doors unlocked and the keys in your car. Your one car.
The Andy Griffith Show was a part of our lives, and still is thanks to the proliferation of reruns on any number of networks.
And now the good Sheriff has died at 86 years old.
I remember Opie killing the mama bird, Aunt Bee's award-winning pickles, Barney Fife's one bullet, Gomer's working at Wally's Gas Station (followed by Cousin Goober), and Floyd's Barber Shop.
I remember Juanita down at the Diner, Thelma Lou and Helen, and the Fun Girls from Mt. Pilot.
I remember the theme song (titled "The Fishin' Hole"). We had the guy who whistled the song for the show visit Gordon Grammar School when I was a boy.
I remember Andy never wearing a gun, always in church on Sunday, being smarter than anyone from the city, and his Wellington boots (I had to have a pair).
It always seemed like there was a lesson involved in almost every episode, subtle or not. I couldn't name many of these, but I know they helped me.
And doesn't it seem that if you grew up on Andy Griffith that frequently something will happen which reminds you of something you saw on the show? And you wonder WWAD (What Would Andy Do)?
He was the Television's Conscience, and always chose to do the right thing for all involved.
Wisdom seems to be in short supply today. Now, don't get me wrong, there sure are lots of "smart" folks out there who are more than willing to let you know exactly how brilliant they are.
But spouting opinions and espousing wisdom are two entirely different things. Andy knew the difference.
He was Every Boy's Dad, and the kind of man you'd want your daughter to marry. Helen Crump got to him first.
Barney moved to Raleigh, Gomer joined the Marines, the Darlings went back to the hills, but Andy--and Mayberry--remained constant.
I'll miss Andy. And I miss Mayberry more every day.