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What happened to Mayberry
What happened to Mayberry?
In my opinion little Opie Taylor grew up, left Mayberry and became a famous director. Not only did little Opie leave, but so did many of his school mates. They left to attend college, to get a higher paying job, to get married and have children, and to live in the urban jungle. This left Mayberry with an aging
population and very few younger people, so another small town America slowly fades away. As the older population passes on there are few to none to replace those residents. It's sad really. Mayberry seemed like the ideal place to live.
I'll be honest here. I understand the reasoning. Believe it or not I was once a teenager who longed for the city life. I wanted to live and work in the city. I wanted to be somebody, but things change. I still want to be somebody, and I feel that I am. I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, an aunt, me. Yes, I am all
of the above. I got pregnant and left my city dreams behind, got married, had two more children, and I moved farther from the city than I had ever been before. Yes, I moved to Mayberry.
Ok, it wasn't The actual Mayberry, but it was close to it. It was a small town in Oklahoma, so small of a town that there were only two gas stations, one small grocery store, two banks, a Pizza Hut, and two home town cafes. I was amazed to learn there were not separate schools for the elementary, junior high and high schools. There are separate buildings, but they are bunched right there together where they share a gym, a cafeteria, a library. I told my husband this is never going to work, I cannot send my children to school with a bunch of older kids who will pick on them because they are smaller than they are. How could they be expected to go to school in a place where they would not feel safe from teenagers wanting to beat them to a pulp. My husband said they will be fine, so I enrolled them in school and hoped that they would survive their first day.
I picked my children up from school on their first day. Yes, I said I picked them up, not only because I was worried about them, but because in Mayberry there is no such thing as a school bus for children who live in town. You may be wondering how people are able to pick their kids up from school everyday while they are supposed to be at work? Well, here's the thing: everyone here knows that children have to be picked up, and everyone goes to pick up their kids. Notes are left on the front of business doors and employees are allowed to leave without time being docked from their paycheck. It's the strangest thing. But wait. It gets stranger.
After I picked my children up from school I asked them how they had liked it. They loved it. My daughter then said that she got adopted by a high schooler. I didn't understand what that meant so she explained it to me. My daughter said that the high school kids made cookies for the elementary kids and brought them to their class, The kids made the cookies in their home economics and adult living classes. Then when the high school kids participated in their various sports, the elementary kids made posters for their lockers. This was a way for the big kids to get to know the little kids and be like a big brother or sister to the smaller kids. My daughter really enjoyed making posters for her adopted high schooler and on occasion—when the big kids played a game or had a sports meet—the little kids took time from class to go watch them participate in their various sports activities. My children never felt
threatened by older children at school, and as a matter of fact they felt protected by them.
When we moved into our first house here in Mayberry, we were surprised to learn that it did not have a refrigerator. This was going to be a problem. All of our money had been tied up with making the move and our house in Colorado had not sold yet, so we were unable to afford a new refrigerator. I didn't know what we were going to do. I asked the real estate lady if she knew of anybody who might have a used refrigerator for sale. She stated that she did not not know of anyone at that time who had one for sale but that she would ask around. The very next day a lady I did not know brought over a small dorm
size refrigerator for my family to use until I was able to afford a new or bigger one. I thanked her for her generosity and she told me I was welcome, that she was not using it at the moment, and I was welcome to use it for as long as I needed. I was amazed at the kindness this lady had shown me and my
Later that month I walked into the local furniture/hardware/appliance store looking for a price on a new refrigerator. The old man who ran the store walked over to the place I was standing looking at the prices and styles of different refrigerators. He asked me if I needed any help. I said no, I was just
looking for prices. He asked me my name and I told him, he said, “Oh, you live in the old Stephens house.” I said that, yes, I did, and I learned later that every house in town is called by the previous owners name, not by the address.
The old man then asked if we had gotten a refrigerator for the house that we were currently living in. I told him about the generous lady who had loaned us her apartment sized fridge until I was able to afford another. He then said, “well my dear, I have the perfect frig for you, It's nothing fancy, but it will do the job.” He then grabbed my arm by my elbow and lead me to a small new refrigerator behind all the big fancy fridge's with ice and water in the doors. “I can set you up on some payments,” he said, “how does $50.00 a month sound to you?”
I stared at him for a moment. In my mind I thought this was a great deal. The old store owner must have seen my stare and then asked if $50.00 was too much, saying he could probably stretch that out for me. I said no, that was a fine payment, but I did not have anything for a down payment right at the
moment, and that maybe in a week or two I could come up with something. “Don't be silly,” he replied, “You aren't going to leave the country anytime soon are you?” I replied no, and he said, “well when can I get this delivered for you? How bout today? Will you be at home?” Again I was amazed at the generosity of that old store owner. But wait. It gets stranger still.
On a cold winter day I bundled up my three children—who were pretty small at the time—and I headed for the grocery store. I needed groceries for the week, so my children and I walked the aisles of the local grocery store, which did not take long, since there are only about seven aisles to walk, but we got the things we needed and approached the checkout counter. As the cashier rang up our necessities, we began piling up the food on the conveyor belt. When the last bit of groceries had been put on the belt, I started digging in my purse for my wallet. I rummaged through all the things that I keep in my purse, lipstick, pens, toys for the kids, a hairbrush, a mirror, but no wallet. In the confusion trying to get my kids and myself bundled up for our trek to the store, I had dropped my wallet. Just at the moment that I realized I did not have my wallet with me, the cashier gave me my total of about $75.00.
I panicked. I asked the cashier to hold on. I thought I might have dropped my wallet in my car, so I grabbed the kids and ran out, searching the seats, the floor, under the seats, the console and, in desperation, the glove box, but no wallet was to be found. I returned to the store. Embarrassed, I told the cashier that I had lost my wallet and to please save my groceries, that I would go home and look for the wallet and pay my bill. The cashier then said, “Don't worry about it honey, just sign this ticket we will load those groceries in your car for you and you can come back and pay your bill as soon as you find your wallet.” I signed the ticket and returned home to find my wallet right where I had left it, on the coffee table. Again I was amazed at such generosity.
After my family had settled in for a month or two my oldest daughter received a call from one of her new school friends, The little girl was calling to see if my daughter could go roller skating. I asked her mother where they were planning to go roller skating and she said at the local VFW. At this point I was really confused. I thought that was a bar. The girl's mother said on Friday nights from 7-10 it was transformed into a skating rink for the kids and that it cost a dollar to skate and .50 for roller skate rental. I was amazed to know that they had done this for many years, and the the old wood plank dance floor made a great skating rink for the kids.
I know that you are probably thinking that things like this don't really happen in real life, that this is an un-aired episode of the Andy Griffith show, or a scene from fifty years ago, but you're wrong. It does happen, and it is happening now in small towns all over America. But Mayberry is dying. The old man who ran the furniture/hardware/appliance store has since retired. The VFW has been boarded up and is currently for sale. The class of 2008 had 24 graduates, and many have left home for college and will only return to see their folks on special occasions. The elderly people will pass and Mayberry will loose a few more residents. Businesses will close because there is no one left to sell to anymore, and Mayberry will fade away. Another sad chapter in history will be added, and the future world will only know of towns like these through old reruns of The Andy Griffith Show.
Mayberry by Rascal Flatts
Want a taste of Mayberry?
Watch full episodes of the Andy Griffith show
My thanks to Christoph Reilly for helping me edit this hub. He's a great friend and a master at writing. I couldn't have done this without his help.