10 details you never noticed in The Andy Griffith Show episode ''Opie's Newspaper''

Learn how war stories, haunted houses and high school memories influenced this beloved tale.

"Opie's Newspaper" is a highlight in the fifth season of The Andy Griffith Show. It is one of the final episodes with Don Knotts as a regular cast member, and he shines as always, especially when relaying gossip from Floyd's barbershop. Gossip is the major theme of this episode, as Opie and his buddy Howie Pruitt print up a newspaper called the Mayberry Sun that quickly turns into a local tabloid.

This episode also gives us more names of Mayberry locals than just about any other tale. Karen Faulker, Widow Saunders, Fred Henry, Myra Lambert, Cindy Ames, Sally Toms, Betty Parker, Bobby Wilson, Hector Stiles… there are loads of names mentioned, and some colorful neighbors as supporting cast.

It all leads to an episode filled with fascinating details. Let's take a closer look.

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1. "Pickups and Splashes" was once an actual newspaper column.

Screenwriter Harvey Bullock worked a lot of his own backstory into "Opie's Newspaper." The veteran television scribe — Bullock also wrote notable episodes of The Flintstones and Hogan's Heroes, and went on to create Monster Squad — was writing from an early age. In high school, Bullock had a column in the school paper called "Pickups and Splashed from Floor and Pool," as he revealed in Neal Brower's insightful book Mayberry 101. Barney Fife boasts about his teenage journalist days at Mayberry Union High School, mentioning his column of the same name. However, Barney's column only ran once.

2. "Myra Lambert is a raindrop" is based on a true story, too.

That was not the only autobiographical detail Bullock worked into the script. Early in the episode, Barney and Andy read through Opie's innocent first edition of the Mayberry Sun, which has updates and bulletins from his school. Myra Lambert landed a part in the school play. "She will be a raindrop," Barney reads. That's cute — that's darn cute. Well, this too comes from Bullock's experience, serving in the US Navy. He explained in Mayberry 101 (you can also hear the tale in the Two Chairs No Waiting podcast) that fellows in the Navy serving in the Pacific were missing news from back home. They asked a Red Cross field worker to bring back updates from the homefront. When the news came in, one sailor heard about his brother Clifford, landing a part in a play. "Clifford is a raindrop," the Red Cross reported. That amusing line stuck with Bullock for decades.

3. The writer later regretted making a reference to the A-bomb.

Later in the episode, Barney, Aunt Bee and Andy sit and chat in the Taylor kitchen. It's a hot day outside. "It must be the bomb," Barney declares. You might wonder what he is talking about. It was an oft-stated, offhand line used in the post-WWII era by people who would blame something inexplicable on the nuclear bomb. Mail late? It must be the bomb. Train not on time? It must be the bomb. It's dark humor, indeed — certainly for idyllic Mayberry. Bullock would later resent using the line. "When I see it now in the script, I wince," he told Neal Brower in Mayberry 101. "It was ill-advised because I labored to keep topical lines out of Mayberry… Any reference to the bomb was negative and unnecessary."

4. Opie got the name of his pal wrong.

Any astute viewer of The Andy Griffith Show knows that writers did not pay particular care to continuity. This episode in particular is rife with such inconsistencies. Let's start with "Troy Bowden." In the Mayberry Sun, we learn this boy forgot his lunch at school but got a pear from a classmate. We have seen young Bowden before. Trey Bowden was the title character in "Andy and Opie's Pal." Trey was his nickname, as his given name was Frederick Bowden III. 

5. The Reverend had a different name, too.

You recognize Reverend Hobart M. Tucker (William Keene). After all, he married Andy and Helen in the series premiere of Mayberry R.F.D. He's a familiar face around Mayberry. Only, in "Opie's Newspaper" (as well as in "The Church Organ") he is for some reason called "Reverend Martin."

6. The Reverend lived in a haunted house.

Speaking of the Reverend, pay close attention to his house. It is a recycled home in Mayberry. Most notably, the same structure was the spooky Rimshaw House in "The Haunted House." The same place hosts a society party when it is Mrs. Wiley's home in "My Fair Ernest T. Bass." It's easy to spot with its distinctive porch railing and front door windows. Oh, it also happens to sit right next to the Taylor house on the production set.

7. The Grigsbys were not that far apart in age.

Barney and Aunt Bee gossip on the sidewalk at passers-by. They spot Harold and Sue Grigsby. Barney and Bee say, "He's old enough to be her father" and that Sue is a "bottle blonde." In real life, the actors, Kelly Thordsen and Vici Raaf, were only four years apart in age. Perhaps you recognize Thordsen as Monroe Jones, Barnaby's cousin in an episode of Barnaby Jones?

8. Burt Mustin was playing a different character.

Burt Mustin is a fascinating bit player on The Andy Griffith Show. He began his acting career at the age of 67. Outside of Mayberry, he is best known as Gus the Fireman on Leave It to Beaver. In Mayberry, he is mostly known as Jud Fletcher. However, he is also called "Jubal," "Mr. Crowley" and, here, "Sam Benson." Why all the different names for essentially the same character? Who knows!

9. Mrs. Foster was related to Beaver Cleaver — and not?

Aunt Bee disses the Chicken a la King of Mrs. Foster, describing it as "wallpaper paste." That bit of spilled tea gets printed in the Mayberry Sun, forcing Bee to try and snatch the paper from Mrs. Foster's doorstep before it can be read. Irene Tedrow plays the role. On The New Leave It to Beaver, she portrayed Aunt Martha Bronson, June's auntie. Which is weird, because on the original Leave It to Beaver, she was in the episode "The Visiting Aunts." However, in that story she was Mrs. Hathaway — a friend of Aunt Martha (Madge Kennedy)!

10. There was a cereal conflict.

Post was a major sponsor of The Andy Griffith Show, which is why you could see Sheriff Andy pitching the company's cereals Post Oat Flakes and Post Toasties during episodes when the sitcom originally aired. "They're go-o-o-o-o-d!" he'd declare. Look at the shelf behind the printing press in the Mayberry Sun's garage base. You will spot a box of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes and General Mill's Cheerios.

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ncadams27 5 days ago
Admit it - how many of you watch these shows to find these little errors. If the shows were perfect we would be less interested. Once I spot an error, I play very close attention looking for the next one.
mayberry4life 6 days ago
Excited to be here. I am glad someone still has MY FAVORITE SHOW! I watch it every day, really.😊
LarryLeGros 8 days ago
You recognize Reverend Hobart M. Tucker (William Keene). After all, he married Andy and Helen in the series premiere of Mayberry R.F.D. He's a familiar face around Mayberry. Only, in "Opie's Newspaper" (as well as in "The Church Organ") he is for some reason called "Reverend Martin." Maybe the M. stands for Martin?
MikeyMello 8 days ago
I wish MeTV would uncover the mystery of “Mr. Schwamp”. There is not a clear cut explanation as to who he really was. I have always been intrigued by that.
KIMBB002 9 days ago
It is VERY presumptuous of MeTV to state that I did not know these these things about the “Opie’s Newspaper “ episode. How does MeTV know what I know or what I do not know?
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kimmer 11 days ago
Again I love the facts about the details of the shows . They make great trivia comments with other fans. Thank you!
ohiostatekat 11 days ago
I want to know if Clara is a Johnson or Edwards. Arggggghhhh
JHP ohiostatekat 10 days ago
I think in one ep her 1st name was different also - I think it was the "andy and opie bachelors" ep...clara visits at the end and wants to know how the house looked when BEEatch got home (you may see it - you may not - depending on what scene is chopped for the sake of commericals)
JHP 12 days ago
BTW Mrs Grigsby was as attractive as a hornets nest
JHP 12 days ago
Any astute viewer of The Andy Griffith Show knows that writers did not pay particular care to continuity. This episode in particular is rife with such inconsistencies. Let's start with "Troy Bowden." In the Mayberry Sun, we learn this boy forgot his lunch at school but got a pear from a classmate. We have seen young Bowden before. Trey Bowden was the title character in "Andy and Opie's Pal." Trey was his nickname, as his given name was Frederick Bowden III.

this note says it all - I could go on forever

Barney and the uniform episode "I'm fat this is plain fat"
Andy "youre stucking your stomach out"
Barney "my body is a highly tuned weapon - this is the body of a judo expert"
(all in the same ep or maybe even scene)

there is more continuity in a tom and jerry cartoon
Pacificsun JHP 8 days ago
There are different kinds of continuity errors. Adherence to overall “cannon” of course. But mostly character names, relationships, individualized background. Just because there's just more dialogue involved. Noticed more in classic TV and sitcoms (because of endless reruns). Production (of the times) never imagined shows would be so carefully scrutinized. After all, they couldn’t imagine being “classic TV!” Audiences (of the day) wouldn’t care. Filming schedules were tight, budgets low.

However there is a formal position in production responsible for continuity. Usually scene by scene. Jackets on or off, correct marks, angles, etc.. Given everything is shot out of sequence. No doubt there was much to be concerned with in the moment, to be concerned with longer term continuity. Productions were happy just to be picked up for the next season!

Does makes a person appreciate all the more when there are limited errors in an hour long classic TV drama/adventure/action series produced & managed with quality control! MeTV should focus on them as well!!

So which readers (here) would nominate what shows??
JHP Pacificsun 8 days ago
I guess my cents worth is TAGS had continuity errors in the ep...
I understand that shows in the B/W days were riff with the worry of being picked up for the next season and its easy to dissect 50+ years later.....I hold steady that the writers for the TAGS were more of less partying with the Morrison sisters before writing the next episode
JHP Pacificsun 8 days ago
in the episode "dogs dogs dogs" and the nasty thundertorm is over the courthouse...did any of the actors jump when there was lightning and thunder? When the dogs were brought in from the storm - they werent even wet
Pacificsun JHP 7 days ago
I liked both your comments, thanks!
KIMBB002 12 days ago
Wow! Someone needs to get a life!
rwhyde 12 days ago
Show was filmed on famous ‘40 Acres’ studio backlot - Rimshaw/Wiley/haunted house was a prominent set on Gone With the Wind, as Aunt Pittypat’s house, where Scarlett had to flee from in the big Atlanta fire scene
rwhyde rwhyde 12 days ago
Was also Mayor Stoner’s house in ‘The Bedjacket” episode
jo 12 days ago
#4 Opie got his friend's name wrong. Agreed the series was not known for continuity. However, in this case, perhaps Troy was Trey as the boys ran out of "e" s and used an O. They figured their classmates would know who they were talking about. The boys commented they had run out of letters in printing up their first paper.
Pacificsun jo 8 days ago
Very cute, I like that observation! Troy or Trey was also a more unusual name, surprised they even used it in the script!
MikefromJersey 12 days ago
I think there is some confusion here, partly the fault of whomever wrote the above piece who
no doubt was born at least 30 years after this episode(excellent piece other than the bomb bit).
No atomic bomb was ever used during the Cold War, the reference is to all the atomic bomb
TESTING, especially the above ground testing by not just us but the British as well, who did it
in Australia. Plus the Russians and later the French.
There were jokes about the citizens of Nevada glowing in the dark etc. And that all our
milk was contaminated with fallout that entered the food chain.
So Barney making a bomb comment did indeed enter a jarring note into the ongoing
Mayberry Fable we all love, it was a mistake as Mayberry was a refuge from all that
for the people of the time.
But it certainly would be something that any person then might say, it wasn't coming
from out of left field.
Well said. While jarring then, sadly even more prophetic as to the long lasting consequences of the event!
FincastleFan 12 days ago
I just saw this episode on MeTV. I didn't hear a reference to Rev. Martin. As far as I could tell, Andy called him the 'Preacher' several times.
jo FincastleFan 12 days ago
That's correct. In the show, the Reverend is only referred to as "Preacher." Its in the credits at the end he is identified as Reverend Martin.
Walkingtall7 12 days ago
This show will remain a classic, for years to come.
JonP 13 days ago
The reference to the bomb doesn't strike me as grim humor. And it was quickly replaced after man landed on the moon. After that every abnormality was caused by a man stepping on the moon. No doubt people believed it altered the moon's orbit and gravitational pull.
KirwoodDerby JonP 12 days ago
I’m with you, jonP. I don’t feel that line to be grim humor. In fact, when I was a boy there was a chemical plant maybe four miles from my home town called Atlas and whenever there was a foul smell making its way around town, people would inevitably blame it on the Atlas. Years later a friend from town and I worked together at another plant some ten miles in the other direction. Something was stinking up the place and my buddy looked at me and said “must be the Atlas”. I almost hit the floor.
jo JonP 12 days ago
Agreed. I don't think it was grim at all. It was a reality for those of us who grew up with it and adds authenticity to a fictional town and setting . Actually loved a similar line from Otis in another episode, "I think its the fallout, its affecting our milk."
Pacificsun jo 8 days ago
I think the point of the notation was exactly between the contrast of a statement based on reality (slipped into the script) and how much more weight it carried longer term. (As some of the comments above mention).
BelleFleur 13 days ago
"Karen Faulker might be hot copy in the fifth grade, but uptown, she don't mean a thing."
MikeyMello BelleFleur 12 days ago
Epic quote! Love that episode.
cperrynaples 14 days ago
About 3: I'm sure Millenials assumed Barney was making a complement when he talked about "de bomb"...LOL!!
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