Mayberry Days 2012: Highs and Lows

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Peggy McCay, a star of “Days of our Lives” played Andy Griffith’s high school girl friend.

I want to Talk about the sentiment packed 23rd Annual Mayberry Days that concluded Sunday with a Memorial to Andy Griffith, where Ron Howard called with a touching message on the effect that The Andy Griffith Show and Andy himself had on him as a man and a professional.

This event has always meant happiness. But no way could we all avoid mixed emotions. There was good glee and heavy hearts.

So much gain: A new generation of Mayberry fans is arriving in Mt.Airy to celebrate The Andy Griffith Show. Grandparents bring grandchildren and the spirit and morality is passed down.

So much loss: The heartbreak was palpable. Within a short period this spring we lost George Lindsey and the Blue Grass Hall of Fame’s Doug Dillard. In July, we lost Andy and the nation mourned. This month the spirit of the Snappy Lunch, Charles Dowell, died. It just didn’t seem natural — not to see him in the big front window cooking up the infamous Pork Chop Sandwich. And in my personal life, my irreplaceable friend and mentor, Billy Barnes … without whom I most likely would not be in Mayberry because I was spotted by Aaron Ruben, producer of Andy’s show, in the first “Billy Barnes Revue.”

Charlene Darling, Sweet Romeena, and Thelma Lou: a sweet reunion of Mayberry characters — Girlfriends Maggie Peterson, Jackie Joseph, and Betty Lynn,

As Jim Clark, the leading light of  TAGSRWC (The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club), says, “We grieve, we mourn. And we grieve and mourn some more. At some point we allow ourselves to cherish the love, memories, and friendship of those we’ve lost.…” So, with a light/heavy heart we charged through a wall-to-wall schedule for five fun-filled days. The fans are fantastic and generous. (And I’m so grateful for the pictures on Facebook from Mayberry Days fans.)

Fellow performers sharing the fun were Maggie Peterson and her sister (eminent pianist) Phyllis. Betty Lynn, James Best, Ronnie Schell, LeRoy McNees, George Spence, Dean Webb, Margaret Kerry, Morgan Brittany, Peggy McCay, and second generation talents Karen Knotts and George Lindsey Jr. I’m so proud of Karen; she has developed into a lovely young lady and a gifted performer. She has an act that honors her dad and herself. Look out for her. And it was such a pleasure to get to know George Lindsey Jr., very nice and very fun. George Sr. should be truly proud of the good man he raised. I’m looking forward to seeing him in the theatre soon, doing a mystery?

Besides signing pictures for fans, we did a meet and greet with the sponsors and the leadership of the Surrey Arts Council. These people lend themselves to many community events and are the hosts of Mayberry Days. Tanya Jones is responsible for the whole works and hands-on managed all the players, volunteers, rides to and fro, and getting food when needed. She needs a rest and endless applause. Tanya gave each of us a personal schedule that defied gravity, but it worked. We worked the Golf Event at the beautiful Cross Creek Country Club, teeing off ceremony and the awards after the game. There was a proclamation event where the adorable mayor performed the dignitary duties, and each of us was introduced to perform a moment of nonsense. I have a constant duty to attend Mrs. Wiley’s Tea, at theVisitorsCenterthis year.

Ronnie Schell: A fan favorite, Ronnie is an old friend and an ever-busy entertainer.

And more and more visitors are coming to Mt. Airy… perhaps due to the truly fabulous Andy Griffith Museum, a dream come true for memorabilia collector Emmett Forrest, boyhood friend of Andy’s. And, another thanks to Tanya Jones who forcefully spirited this magnificent new landmark into being.

So, after a wonderful wet parade and an abundant talent show, we wrapped up our Mayberry Days, this year made sweeter by a couple of Actors and Others for Animal fans, Don and Mark, who became part of our lives during this Brigadoon-like event.

I’m inNew Yorknow, with David. Time for seeing shows and reporting to you on Lawrence and Lawrence … we’ll Talk….

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