Whether or not you're a fan or have ever seen The Andy Griffith Show, you've probably heard of Mayberry, the fictitious North Carolina town in which the show is set. It is believed that the inspiration for the series and it's many colorful characters was the birth place and home town of Andy Griffith, Mount Airy, NC.I've lived in North Carolina for more than half my life and I've never been there even though I live just 2 hours away. Recently I was in Winston-Salem and decided I'd make the half hour trip north to Mount Airy to check it out. Mount Airy is a quaint little town with a population of about 10,000 where they fully embrace the idea of Mayberry and the fame of their favorite home town celebrity Andy Griffith.
It's a quaint sleepy, friendly town reminiscent of days past. Shops and diners like The Snappy Lunch and Barney's ice cream parlor on Main Street bring the fictitious town of Mayberry to life. Beautiful architecture and huge trees line residential streets. Among other attractions there is an Andy Griffith museum and a bronze statue of Andy & Opie in the middle of town.Down the road from the historic center of town is a re-creation of the the sheriffs office, Emmet's Fix-it Shop, and Wally's Service where you can buy a tour around town in the '60's police cruiser complete with sirens. It's a bit "touristy" but I did find it fun to explore.
The highlight of my visit was meeting Russell Hiatt and his son, Bill. Russell, now 91, has owned and run the City Barber Shop on Main Street since 1946. It's believed he was the inspiration for the character of Floyd the Barber. While Mr. Hiatt still goes to the shop daily he stopped giving haircuts and trims about a year ago due to failing health. Stereotypical Southern women and gentlemen stop by to say hello, and with a smooth southern drawl share their stories, and reminisce about growing up with Andy. Among some of the other historic attractions in town is the Earle Theater built in 1938.
It's curious to me that people from all over the world stop through to visit Mount Airy and Mayberry. Perhaps it's nostalgia for a simpler time or just the chance to slow down and sit a spell.