This telephone directory is from Andy Griffith’s real hometown
Blink and you'll miss this rare reference to Mount Airy.
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When Andy Griffith was just a young boy growing up in Mount Airy, he dreamed of joining a swing band. He saved up all his money for nearly six months to buy a trombone. Next, he just needed to learn how to play the thing.
His high school didn't have a band, but his church did. A laughing pastor told Andy he'd give the 16-year-old boy free lessons if he actually rode his bike two miles with that trombone every week to church, just to be taught. He didn't think Andy would follow through.
Andy showed up for those lessons. Joining that church band changed everything for Andy, and that pastor soon learned that Andy had plenty of enthusiasm when it came to performing of all kinds.
In the book Andy and Don: The Making of a Classic TV Friendship, Griffith is quoted looking back fondly at this moment in Mount Airy, saying, "I became a little somebody then."
Of course, Griffith later became a giant somebody as the star of his own show. The Andy Griffith Show remains one of the most popular things ever aired on TV, and the town of Mayberry is well-known to be loosely based on Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy.
However, as widely known as it is that Mount Airy is the town that Mayberry is modeled after, it's downright rare to ever see a reference of the small North Carolina town in an actual episode of The Andy Griffith Show.
Well, if you watch closely in the fourth season episode "A Black Day for Mayberry," you can see a tiny piece of Mount Airy that Griffith clearly brought with him to Mayberry.
In the opening scene of the episode, two men (one of whom happens to be Rance Howard, Ron's dad) stop by to talk to the sheriff and find only deputy Barney Fife at the jail. Barney insists they can tell him anything they'd tell Andy, but they assure the deputy, "We'll wait."
Barney gets insulted by this snub and picks up a telephone directory from Andy's desk. He begins paging through it, casually trying to convince the men to tell him why they're looking for Andy. It's the book in Barney's hands that we want to direct your attention to.
If you look at the telephone directory, it's not a phonebook for fictional Mayberry at all, but rather one for Mount Airy. It clearly has the town's name on the cover. And from the looks of it, it's not a new copy of the directory, but one that's well-worn from use. It feels safe to assume this was Andy's actual copy of his hometown phonebook, just sitting on his desk like he got plenty of use from it.
Today, a statue of Andy Griffith stands in Mount Airy, in front of the Andy Griffith Playhouse. As of 2015, there's an $80 million tourist industry in the county where the town is, with 95% of that spent in businesses rooted in Mount Airy.
Many fans know that Andy's relationship with his hometown was complicated. As a boy, he felt bullied for his family's poverty, and the TV star at times has said that it was his urge to leave Mount Airy that pushed him to become a talent who could go so far — so far in life and so far from home.
However, when the Andy Griffith tourist industry got to the point where somebody wanted to put up a statue of Don Knotts in town, too, Griffith notably put his foot down. He said a statue of Don belonged in Morgantown, where Don was from.
Mount Airy was his home, and he took pride in the impact he had there. He also apparently took the phonebook in case he ever needed to call home after skipping town. Who among us can't relate to that?