The real-life Mayberry shared some great Andy Griffith memories
Mount Airy, NC, has great stories about the young actor-to-be.
One of the reasons The Andy Griffith Show is so fondly remembered is its setting. The characters imbue Mayberry with a warmth and charm that feels incredibly realistic. Much of that believability comes from the fact that Mayberry is rooted in the real world. Griffith molded the fictional location after his real-life hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. A lot of what we love about Mayberry can be found in that actual Southern locale.
Just like Griffith memorialized Mount Airy by showing everyone Mayberry, the town also celebrated and remembered its most famous export. In 1992, News-Herald staff writer Mike Conley ventured to Mount Airy to record what its residents recalled about Andy Griffith.
One area resident who shared his memories, Bill Holcomb, attended high school with Andy Griffith, graduating with the class of 1944.
"He sat before me in school, alphabetically," said Holcomb. "He was a pretty good-sized fellow." Andy's frame allowed little Bill Holcomb to misbehave and hide behind the soon-to-be-famous student.
"He would go to sleep in the barber's chair and the barber would say 'How do you think I can cut your hair with you falling asleep?"
Holcomb also shared a story about Andy singing a song onstage at the school's junior-senior prom. Very few of his classmates knew how talented Andy Griffith was until he performed "Long Ago and Far Away" at the dance in the spring of '44.
"I tell you, everybody just stopped. I didn't know he could sing. You wouldn't have known where he could go from just being an average Joe. It doesn't matter where you go, everybody has heard of Andy Griffith."
Another Mount Airy lifer, Charles Dowell, spent some time speaking with the News-Herald as well. Dowell owned Snappy Lunch and fed most of Mount Airy over decades in the small, brick restaurant. He didn't specifically remember Andy Griffith but must've left a big impression. 20 years later, Snappy Lunch was mentioned in the first season of The Andy Griffith Show.
"I didn't know it was going to be on," said Dowell. "When he came up with that, I just flipped."