The town of Mayberry, N.C., offered millions of television viewers a vision of America in its perfect state — even as real-life Southern towns roiled with the turbulence of the civil rights era. Andy Griffith, who played the part of the wise Sheriff Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show,” which ran from 1960 to 1968, was a warmly reassuring figure at a time when some folks in rural America may have needed a pushier role model.
But look a little closer and Griffith’s show, and its star, did more than attest to the goodness of small towns. Money and resources may not have been abundant in Mayberry. But a surfeit of friendship and trust more than compensated. Everyone from the mayor to the town drunk participated fully in the life of the town.