I had the privilege of attending another Mayberry Days in Mt. Airy on the last weekend in September just a week ago. As I return to my work and everyday life routine, I can help by think back to the excitement and anticipation of the events getting underway on that Friday morning. As I sat down to breakfast at the bed and breakfast where I stayed, there was one couple there that had attended 15 or more Mayberry Days events. We had met before, and always enjoyed our time together at the table. But on this trip, there were lots of folks that were experiencing Mayberry Days for the first time. That is just about as big a thrill for me as going myself.
There was a couple and then three ladies traveling for a “girls” weekend from Florida. It took them a few minutes to realize that I was the guy who portrayed Col. Harvey as a Tribute Artist at the events…but after that we got back to talking about the particulars of what brought us all together. We all shared how we began watching the show as kids, when we really started loving it, and how we came to make the trip this year.
The consensus was of course the love of the show’s characters, the humor and the life lessons. There was emphasis on the values taught on the show. There was discussion of “the good old days” and simpler times when everybody spoke to one another as they passed. There was discussion about how the world has changed so from the times where we felt safe walking down the street at night.
I enjoyed hearing them respond to my questions on Sunday morning, “What did you like best about your Mayberry Days experience?” “What was the thing you were most excited to see or do?” “What experience can you not wait to share with friends and family when you get back home?” The answers were a little different among the group. Some liked the Parade best. Some liked the Museum the best. Others liked the Mayor’s Proclamation, and still others liked Col. Tim’s Talent time, the Trivia Contest, the concerts and performances by the stars. Everybody liked the interaction with the original cast members…the true Stars, and the fun they had with the Tribute Artists. I made some new friends, added some more Mayberry folks to my Facebook Friends page, and got to visit with friends from before. It’s pretty cool that when you’re at a Mayberry Event, everybody gets it…everybody knows the lines…everybody is in sync.
I have known for years…that the “heart” of Mayberry was the kindness, the welcoming spirit, and the compassion. I know Mayberry as a place where we can step back in time, and actually bring some of that past to the present. It is a place where as Barney says something like the following in the episode, Andy on Trial, “That’s because of something he’s been trying to teach me ever since I started working for him…and that is when…you’re dealing with people, you do a whole lot better if go not so much by the book, but by the heart.”
Unfortunately, there was an incident that occurred, reminding us of the sad times where trust is broken and a person’s heart, although right smack dab in the middle of Mayberry Days, a person shattered our notion of this being a euphoric place. One of our dear friends, a fellow Tribute Artist’s wife, was sitting on a bench during Mayberry Days eating a sandwich. As she enjoyed the great weather and conversation with friends, a person from the area decided to steal her purse. The crook was smooth and bold, taking advantage of a slight diversion to calmly pick up the purse and walk off, as though it were hers and nothing in the world was wrong. Thanks to modern technology and the cameras around town, the thief was caught and most of the items were recovered. Credit Cards had to be stopped, and other identifying information had to be safeguarded. It was a lot of trouble and quite an ordeal, as you know the anxiety something like that causes. There was a considerable amount of cash that was not recovered. These folks had all of their traveling money taken.
Here’s the good news. In no time at all, a campaign was underway with donations to get them back on their feet. They had no idea that there were others taking such action. I know and the others close to the situation know that there were many “Mayberrians” who stepped up to lead this charge and those who donated willingly and without hesitation to help them out. You KNEW it was the “heart” of Mayberry when the victims were given the gift to help them out in their time of need, and you saw the gratitude in their faces. Names of those who donated or helped organize and collect donations are not important here, but the ‘heart” is…just like Barney said.
Have a Mayberry Day,
Keith aka Col. Harvy)