By Bob Heafner © 2014
Online: January, 2015
The Andy Griffith Show has embedded in our minds the fictional small town of Mayberry; a place of good people, simple living, loving neighbors and a small town ambience only found in old memories and reruns of the Andy Griffith Show. Together, young and old alike, we still love the fictional characters and place that continues to come to life daily on our TV screens.
Where was the inspiration for this rural utopia? No doubt it sprang from the collective creative minds of writers, producers and Andy Griffith. In a letter to me dated January 13, 1985, Mr. Griffith said, "The name of our town in our show was fictitious. I don't even remember now who came up with the name. It sure has stuck."
I have no doubt that Mr. Griffith didn't remember who came up with the name Mayberry. Perhaps it was Arthur Stander, who is credited with creating the show. How it came to be is not important.
It is apparent that community names from around Mr. Griffith's hometown of Mt Airy were used; Pilot Mountain became Mt Pilot on the TV show and the fictitious town of TV fame became Mayberry. The relationship between Pilot Mountain and the real crossroads community of Mayberry is very clear when one realizes they are both within a twenty mile radius of Mr. Griffith's hometown.
The Mayberry of TV fame was a fictitious place inhabited by fictitious characters. Who can doubt that Mr. Griffith's memories of growing up were not the basis, however loosely, for some of the characters and stories we have all come to love.
However, there can also be little doubt that the name of the fictitious TV town of Mayberry was borrowed from a small community "up on the mountain" above Mt Airy.
The Mayberry on the mountain was a real place and the more one knows about the little crossroads community, the deeper it ingrains itself into our hearts. It wasn't anything like the TV Mayberry, and neither was Mt Airy. But thank goodness that Andy Griffith was real and his sense of country humor brought us all to an imaginary place we'd love to call home.
Shown is a copy of Mr. Griffith's letter, sent to me as a follow-up to my inquiry regarding the use of the name Mayberry for his show. We had sent Mr. Griffith a copy of John Hassell Yeatts' book, "Remembering Old Mayberry," along with several back issues of The Mountain Laurel. We mailed the packet to him in Manteo, North Carolina but his reply came from his home address in North Hollywood, California.