Monday, April 7, 2014

Mayberry Comes BACK to Westminster


In just a few short weeks, the town of Westminster, nestled neatly into the upper left-hand corner of the state, will come alive with Mayberry.  Oconee County, where Westminster is located, is called the Golden Corner of the State.  Although I love living on the coast of SC, I spent the first four years of my life as a professional out of college in this wonderful place.

Clemson University is just a few miles away, as is the town of Seneca, Walhalla, Oakway and West Union.  I was privileged to call Westminster my home for four years.  I brought my new bride to our first home there and then a couple of years later, my first child.

The mountains in the background touch the sky just at the county line before heading into Georgia.  There are rivers, ponds and lakes all around.  The weather is mild most of the time, but can draw a little snow in winter.  There are miles of rolling hills along the country roads that make you feel right at home.  Apples are a big crop up that way, and a festival is held yearly to celebrate the harvest.

The trees turn colors in the fall, just like they’re supposed to, and create a magnificently painted palette in the tree lines.  The wildlife is abundant, the fishing great, and the recreation relaxing.  But the things I’ve already mentioned aren’t the real treasures in this place…it the people.

Andy once said to the visiting Manicurist that “nature had been real, real good” to her.  Continuing on, he said that he “didn’t remember when he’d seen nature put so much time into one individual.”  I think you’ll find and nature has smiled on this place.

The people here are down-home, genuine and accepting of everyone.  They go about life at a pace that might seem a little slower than what most are used to, but they take advantage of that because they have a genuineness about them that is honest and sincere.  When they speak to you, and ask you “How do you do?”…they really want to know.  When they ask, “Can I help you?” …they really want to help.  When they introduce themselves to you, they really want to get to know you.  When these folks see you again, they remember your name.

On May 2-3, 2014, when Mayberry Comes Back to Westminster, it is a perfect arrangement of spirit and soul.  Not the kind of arrangement that Briscoe Darling made for his granddaughter Andelina and Opie, but the kind that when you see it, you just know it’s right.  It’s a town that values its heritage, and embraces those who come here, to live or just to visit a while. 

My first job was teaching in at Westminster high School, where I was an assistant football coach and the Head basketball coach from 1979-1983…the “Final Four” years of the school before it merged with Oakway to create West-Oak High School.  I made lifelong friends there, and still keep up with many of them today.  As for the ones I don’t really keep in touch with, they’re still there, and when we meet during my visits there, and especially during the Mayberry Comes Back to Westminster Events, we still know one another’s names, we still greet one another as though we were family, and that hug and handshake are just as warm and heartfelt as they were all those years ago.

If you haven’t been to any Mayberry Events, well…this is a great one to attend.  Tom Rusk, the face behind the event is a Mayberry Fan extraordinaire, as you will see when he drives his replica Squad Car around town.  The event is sponsored by some wonderful area businesses, so make sure to patronize them and the town shop keepers as well.  The event is well organized; the street vendors are always helpful, the folks that run the shops and restaurants in town are really happy to see you.  The local papers and media outlets are out in force.  The man who does a lot of the emcee work, Kris Butts, from WGOG, is an enthusiastic Mayberry Fan himself. There are look-a-like contests, pickle eatin’ contests, pies and pageants.   The entertainment is high quality, the Tribute Artists are funny, the parades are festive, and the original characters from the show that are able to attend are wonderful human beings.  No doubt about it, you’ll come away feeling much better than when you first arrived.  Information on the Mayberry Comes to Westminster Event can be found at http://westminstersc.com/mayberry/

 Hope to see you there.  Have a Mayberry Day.

 Keith

Friday, March 21, 2014

Guest of Honor


Not too long ago, I became aware of a wonderful website that I now belong to called the "iMayberry Community."  The site is operated by a great guy named Allan Newsome, also known as the Tribute Artist, "Floyd, the Barber."  The website can be found by going to www.imayberrycommunity.com. It's a little slice of the Internet, just off the beaten path that allows us to go back a little over 50 years to a simpler time.  To a time when life's pace was a little slower...and yet just the right speed for all to take in the lessons the Town of Mayberry taught.  It was a town of character...full of "characters" from every walk of life. It taught us the basic values and morals like "Do unto others"... like "Go out there and act like somebody"...and "When you're dealing with people, you'll do much better if you don't go so much by the book, but by the heart." 


In trying to put my finger on what makes "The Andy Griffith Show" and Mayberry so appealing, I remember the lines at the end of the episode, “Opie the Birdman” when Opie asked, “The cage looks awful empty, huh Pa?”  Andy answers him back with a question to ponder, “It sure does son…but don’t the trees seem nice and full?”  It’s this kind of mentality and simply choosing to look at life through optimistic lenses that make Mayberry so appealing. A life lesson was found in every episode.  Then it hit me...I am so drawn into the simple life...with truth, morals, and dignity for all, that I truly feel like a real "Guest of Honor" every time I watch the show. 

Not too long after,   I ran across this neat perspective from a fellow member of the website. His name is Mitch Hyre.  We know him in the iMayberry Community as "Dud."  Below is his entry as my Guest Blogger:


The Perfect Town That Never Was


Can someone be influenced by a place?  How about a fictional place?  I’m going to go out on a limb and say not only yes, but emphatically yes.  Think of a town that never existed.  The influencing factors of the town are not limited by its geographic features but in a larger sense, extend to the people who live there, or never lived there I should say.  It might sound strange but the place and the people are as real as your next door neighbor, at least they are to tens of millions Americans.  They are avid fans of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and the place is the town of Mayberry.  Idyllically set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just a ‘whiff and a whisker’ south of the Virginia/North Carolina State line, Mayberry is the home of about 2,000 fictional characters, and do they have their quirks.  Some couldn't boast an IQ much above 85; others might laugh out loud at the corniest of jokes or become so enthralled with something as simple as an electric pencil sharpener that they were sure the world had entered a new space age.  Wealthy?  Not really.  Beautiful?  Not so much.  Having trouble putting your finger on it?  Me too.  But I am absolutely in love with Mayberry and every corny, half-witted, quirky citizen that idly walked its fictional streets.


In trying to figure out why so many people are so taken by this town, I had to dive deep inside my inner psyche (A place I rarely like to go; some scary things in there) and I may have happened upon a couple nuggets of insight.  First, the most endearing episodes of the series were set in the early to mid-1960s. If one were to try you could not pick a better time to be alive.  Conveniently wedged between the Post War industrial boom and the radical social unrest ushered in by Hollywood, Rock and Roll and recreational drug use, the early 60s offered the absolute best of modernism mixed with sustained, shared and cherished moral values.  More simply put, they had stuff and still knew how to treat their neighbor.  This is a segway into the second thing I discovered.  Their system of values wasn’t a system at all.  It was a simple rule.  Put people first.  Above pride, gluttony, anger, greed, lust, and envy, people come first.   Oh, there were those who came through Mayberry who lived by other, more nefarious and self-serving ideals.  But by the end of the episode, they were either converted or were so uncomfortable, they just moved on.  In Mayberry, if you were obese or not so good looking or not so smart or couldn’t hold a job or had a drinking problem (Otis) there was still room for you at the table and you were treated with the same dignity as its most respected citizen, the Sheriff himself.  If you weren’t, it was an anomaly and the whole town was uneasy until harmony could be restored.


Strange how today, a scant 50 years later, we boast of modern technology, intelligence, and capability to use the threat of war to keep pseudo peace, but what so many truly long for is to return to the simplest place filled with the simplest people who live by the simplest rule.  I watch reruns of the show on a daily basis.  It continues reinforce that simple rule while providing wholesome entertainment.  I’ve watched the scene a hundred times or more but I still laugh when Otis drunkenly stumbles into the courthouse and locks himself up.  I think heaven must be a lot like Mayberry.  I certainly hope it is.



Have a Mayberry day,


Keith

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Act Like Somebody

"Act Like Somebody" was a phrase Andy used a lot on The Andy Griffith Show...especially when talking to Opie. What does that mean, exactly?  I think it means show who and what you are made of by your actions.
 


As of late in the Deep South, and more specifically, on the South Carolina coast, we have experienced weather that is somewhat foreign to us.  Over the last three weeks, we have experienced below freezing temperatures along with rain, sleet and snow.  That's right, snow...at the beach.  I know it's not that big of a deal for those of you who live in parts of the US where you regularly see this kind of weather.  Oh, we have short snaps of cold weather, although it not as often as others, however it's the precipitation that messes with us.     

When we see a snowflake...do you hear me..."A" snowflake, we tend to lose our minds.  But when it comes down heavy for an extended period of time...we are almost crippled.  As an Educator, I understand the necessary precautions when it comes to putting children on buses and parents driving on icy roads...and I am okay with the inconvenience of having to make up the school days.  What I do not like is the way the ice causes limbs and trees to fall in the yards, on houses,  on cars and across roads.  I also don't like the power outages.  Personally, we were spared the power failure, but many of my friends were not.  Some of the friends and colleagues from work lost power and went 5-6 full days without power.

Now that I have set the stage, you might find yourself asking, "Why is all of this on a Mayberry Blog?"  As Ernest T. Bass says, "I'm getting to that!  I'm getting to that!"

Act Like Somebody.  What happened during this time was a great example of Mayberry's hospitality come to town. I saw friends and neighbors working together to remove debris.  Young guys helping older folks cut limbs and haul them away.  I jumped the fence at my house to help my elder neighbors drag away some heavy limbs.  We invited friends to our home who were without power.  We met friends out for meals when the roads allowed.

Aunt Bee:  "Do unto others..."

Act Like Somebody.  We saw families gathering together the homes of those with power.  We saw friends staying with friends so they had a place to keep warm.  We saw people sharing the food in their freezers, instead of waiting for it to go bad (and not that tough beef like Aunt Bee got from Diamond Jim's). Friends asking other friends over for a hot meal while they waited for the power company.

Andy Taylor:  "Why don't you come over to the house and eat with us.  Aunt Bee would love to have you."

Act Like Somebody.  I heard of one co-worker tell of their family cooking meals together on their gas grill.  One told me that they got out the old fashion ice cream churn, and hand-churned a gallon of creamy dessert.  (There was plenty of ice for the churning).  They played cards by candlelight, read by glow of lanterns, and kept warm by fireplaces. They talked and shared stories...some were the  same old tales told many, many times..and there was an occasional new one.  They laughed and enjoyed each other's company. We didn't see this as an inconvenience, but as an adventure.

Opie Taylor:  "Oh boy!  If you stay over, you'll be in my room...and I'll get to sleep on the Ironing Board between two chairs.  That's adventure sleeping!"

Act Like Somebody.  We stayed in touch with one another, and checked on our family and friends often.  We made do with what we had, and those who were more fortunate gave freely to help others.  It was a time to reflect on what was important.  We did what the good people of Mayberry would have done had they been in the same situation.  The situation impacted us all...in many different ways...we gained renewed perspectives...and just like in Mayberry, we learned an important lesson...I'll let Barney tell you about that...

Barney Fife:  "Andy's been trying to teach me something every since I've been working for him, and it's this:  when you're dealing with people, you'll do much better If you don't go so much by the book, but by the heart."


Have a Mayberry Day,

Keith

a.k.a. - Col. Harvey

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What's Your Hurry?


As Andy, Opie, and Aunt Bee sit on their front porch on a Sunday morning, they speak to and about the different folks passing by on their way to church.  Andy pops off a line as he waves saying, "Mornin' Eli.  Good service, we went to the early one."  

As another family passes,  Aunt Bee remarks, "Look there Andy. Four generations...all going to church together.  There's Claude Sr., Claude Jr, Plain Claude Beamon and Claudette...."

Point being... When is the last time you took the time to just relax on the porch, or on your deck, or out in your yard?  When is the last time you can remember speaking to your neighbors by name as they walked past your house?  Most would probably have to admit that it's been a while...and probably a long while.  I know as I am out in my yard, walking the block or riding bikes around the neighborhood with my wife, or even if I see folks walking or jogging as I walk out to the street to check the mail, I now make it a mission to speak to folks in a personable way. I try to shake their hand if I can.  If nothing else, I will resort to making a comment about the weather (as corny as that sounds).  

Why...when we were kids, we knew all the folks in the neighborhood...and they all knew us.  We had old fashion "Block Parties" and all the kids went to the same public school.  We'd make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, pack it in a paper bag with a can of sardines and head off on our bikes to play all day.  We swam, fished and caught frogs, snakes and turtles in the creek.  We climbed trees and made forts in the woods.  We even hunted small game with our BB, Pellet or even .22 caliber single shot rifles.  And heaven forbid, we even drank water from the garden hose in the back yard...and it was all okay. 

Life seemed a little slower paced back then.  People looked out for one another, and their children.  People spoke to one another and knew each other's families.  I think it's a shame that we've allowed life to get so hectic...and so my challenge to myself and to you is to do exactly as our friends in Mayberry did in those episodes...relax and enjoy just doing nothing.  Speak to your neighbors.  
Go and sit on the porch with a friend or relative and count cars like Barney and Miss Mendlebright did.   Try to peel and apple without breaking the peeling like Andy did for Mr. Tucker.  And take the advice of Dr. Harrison Everett Breen, "Slow down.  Take it easy.  WHAT'S your hurry?  What indeed friends, is your hurry?"

-Keith
a.k.a Col. Harvey

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Passing Along "the Friendly Town"

I am a guy who does coupons.  Yeah, that's right, coupons.  I cut them out, look for them online, redeem what the stores give me on the back of receipts and collect rewards points back on my gasoline.  I'm not fanatical, nor am I an expert, but I do pretty well.  Once at CVS I had a $46.59 bill and only paid $7.19.  At the local Sunoco gas station,  I have filled up my car (up to 20 gallons) many times for as little as 38 cents.

That brings me to the point of this blog entry.  Just after the new year, I was filling up using my Sunoco Rewards Card for 85 cents per gallon.  On this occasion, the pump shut off after 16 gallons.  Of course I squeezed another gallon in there but still had 3 gallons left to redeem.  At that moment, I noticed an elderly gentleman that pulled up next to me and got out to fill his tank.  He reached for his wallet and did not have it.  I saw the disgust on his face which quickly turned to dispair.  I read that look as "Oh, no.  No wallet and no gas."  So I said "excuse me, sir..." And began to explain to him how I had these three extra gallons of gas and nowhere to pump it...and could he use it.  He said, "Wow.  And yes." He tanked me over and over.  Even though it was only 3 gallons, it made his day.  It was when he said, "That was mighty friendly of you! I appreciate it."...that I thought about Mayberry...The Friendly Town.

I share this not to shine a light on what I did, but that the situation shines a light on something for us all.  That a friendly face and a friendly gesture is still appreciated. That charitable giving is OK.  That seeing the need of another human being and acting on it is valued.  That "doing for others" without expecting reward or recognition still makes you feel good.

I think Andy would have been proud to know that Mayberry values are alive and well in 2014.


-Keith
a.k.a- Col. Harvey

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Lessons from the Mayberry Christmas Story

I love the "Christmas Story"episode of The Andy Griffith Show...and until recently, always wondered why they didn't do another Christmas episode in the seasons that followed.  Then it hit me.

If you watch a lot of the other Sitcoms, they will have Christmas shows every season.  And when you talk to friends and refer to those other shows' Christmas Specials, someone would always ask: Which season...1 or 2 or 3.  It gets confusing.

But NOT SO with the Andy Griffith "Christmas Story" episode.  I believe it to be the Christmas show standard for other shows to imitate.  In this particular episode, Season 1 Episode 11, there is a mixture of comedy and spirituality, love and kindness.  Here are some lessons we can learn from this episode:

CHEER:  Spread Christmas Cheer like the Christmas Cards the boys got from the likes of the Hubacher Brothers, and Hilda May.  GRACE:  Andy let's the prisoners go home for Christmas to return after to finish out their sentence...an element of TRUST we don't often see nowadays.  A little COMMERCIALIZATION:  with "Sanny Claus" and decorating the tree, and exchanging gifts.  EMPATHY:  When they have to jail Sam...and then bring in his family, so they can have FAMILY TIME.

The loving SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS is shared among friends and family, with good food and with Miss Ellie singing "Away in a Manger" accompanied by Andy on the guitar.  At the 2013 Mayberry Days, Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins in this episode) shared with my wife, that Elinor Donahue was uneasy about singing on camera, although she could and did actually sing the song.  Trying to convince her that it would be fine, Andy talked her into practicing it once just to see how it would go.  She did the song and afterwards told Andy that she thought she could do it...and asked when he wanted to film it?  With his patented ear-to-ear smile, Andy told her, "We just did."

We also see a "SCROOGE" character in old Ben Weaver...pretending he is "Bah Humbug" about Christmas, when all he really wants is to not be alone. He desires, like all of us, to be needed, loved and appreciated, and eventually manages to get himself arrested so he can be a part of their Christmas.

All of the elements in this episode remind me that the Christmas season is about all the things they are supposed to be...and that we should share the love that was originally given to us at the birth of the baby Jesus.  So in this busy season, take time to notice those that are alone...those without food or shelter...those who've run across hard times and hard luck.  Show compassion, love and grace where ever you see an opportunity.

Only one Christmas Story in all of the seasons of the Andy Griffith Show was needed to create "Christmas Magic", and it's just as relevant today as it was when it was shown back on December 19, 1960.

Have a very Mayberry Christmas...all year long.




Keith
A.K.A. Col Harvey.

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Trip to the BIG City


I recently returned from a trip to the big city…the REAL Big CITY…New York, NY. As I stepped into thecrowded lobby of our hotel, a broad smile broke out on my face. My wife asked me what I was smiling about. I turned around, leaned back on the bar with my elbows and said, “Boy, you sure wouldn’t have to look hard around here to find some good felonies.” (Andy and Barney in the Big City). We both laughed out loud.  And it was hard to believe what they were asking for rooms, more than $7.00...a lot more.

Truthfully…it was a nice place in a nice location. It was a little different than my hometown, Pawleys Island, SC…and quite a bit different from Mayberry. However, I took a few small town behaviors to the big city and left if nothing else…a lasting impression on a few folks.

One of the things I like to do is interact with people. Strangers in the big city don’t do that a lot…and in the world we live in today…you really can’t blame them. However, I coined a phrase some years back about those folks that won’t look at you as they approach you in the hall or on the street until they are right beside you. I call this phenomenon “Passive Avoidance.” I wait for the right moment…then I engage folks.

One example: Often you find yourself among a group of complete strangers that ride the elevators together. You look up, down, at your watch and more often than not, at your Smartphone to avoid having to talk to the others. On my NY trip, as the elevator begin to populate and people started looking everywhere else, I said out loud, “Hello new riders. Welcome to the area!” It broke the ice. We started laughing and asking one another where they were from, how long they’ve been here, have you been to any good tourist attractions, and what restaurants they had visited so far. As I saw them the remainder of the trip, there was no “Passive Avoidance.” Instead, I got several “Hellos”, many nods of the head, and even one “Howdy!”

One of the folks even told us about a restaurant they liked, adding that it was a bit pricey, and sort of fancy. We did not go there…I was worried that I might accidently order “Snails and Brains.”

I took some of my quiet time in the evenings as I rested from site-seeing to read the news, a book and even check mail on my iPad. The place I go to get a little perspective on life, enjoy a few laughs, and have loads of fun is a place that you can all enjoy. It’s located at www.iMayberryCommunity.com. Look me up when you get there. Send me a Friend Request (ColHarV), read the posts, get into the Discussion Forums…in other words, “Jump in there and hang on!”

Most importantly, look for Mayberry Moments, and make the effort to spread a little Mayberry every day.

Keith

a.k.a. - Col. Harvey