Mayberry Meet Up, Part II

An interesting feature of the Mayberry Motor Inn is what they term “The Aunt Bee Room.” The first room to the left of the office is filled to the brim with items that belonged to Frances Bavier, the actress who portrayed Aunt Bee throughout the entire run of The Andy Griffith Show and for the first two seasons of the spinoff Mayberry R.F.D.

When Frances initially retired from acting, she bought a house sight unseen in Siler City, North Carolina, a town that was sometimes mentioned in The Andy Griffith Show. Frances did come out of retirement briefly to appear in the 1974 family film Benji but then lived the rest of her life in North Carolina. Sadly, she became a recluse late in life.

Aunt Bee’s room.

After she passed away in 1989, an estate sale was held. The owners of the Mayberry Motor Inn attended and won the bidding on various items. The staff told me that literally everything in the room had belonged to Frances. The curtains to the room are left open during the day. The staff was happy to allow me to go into the room though the motel owners do not allow photographs from inside. Pictures can obviously be taken through the window. The room itself is listed in promotional materials the town provides of interesting sights to see in town.

Squad car reproduction at the Mayberry Motor Inn.

The Meet Up had a schedule but nothing was mandatory. Thus, while there were plenty of opportunities to do activities as a group, one was welcome to sit anything out or do something on their own. I had originally hoped to arrive Thursday evening but work putting the finishing touches on the upcoming Mayberry Day-by-Day Calendar got in the way. So I arrived Friday afternoon while many of the attendees were at the Andy Griffith Museum to meet Betty Lynn. Betty, who played Barney’s girlfriend Thelma Lou in the series, now resides in Mount Airy. Once a month she comes to the museum to greet her fans. I have been lucky enough to meet Betty several times and so was not majorly disappointed that I wasn’t able to do so again that day. She is truly a sweetheart, by the way. Instead, when I arrived I met with various shop owners in town whom I had previously contacted about carrying the new calendar during Mayberry Days. I will provide more details on that in the future.

About 50 of the attendees met back at the Motor Inn at a scheduled time and caravanned to the nearby town of Dobson for an early dinner at a restaurant called The Depot. While the setting was beautiful and the food was good, the real treat was getting to know some other fans better. For example, I had become friends through Facebook with a fellow fan and student of history named Tim. At the Mayberry Days festival last year, Tim introduced himself in person and we grabbed a quick photo together in the lobby of the Earle Theater. So what a treat it was to carpool with Tim and his wife and spend time chatting with them in person. Likewise, Dewey is another Facebook friend who I had only met briefly at the festival last year, primarily chatting in the lobby of the Hampton Inn. Dewey is always especially kind in publicly thanking me for my Mayberry history posts in our Facebook group and my contributions to Allan Newsome’s Two Chairs, No Waiting podcast. Again, it was a real treat to get to share a meal with him. And finally, a young couple were also at the table. In short order, I discovered that Wayson and Mona had attended Morehead State University in Eastern Kentucky, my alma mater.

Dinner at the Depot.

If that had been it for the day, I would already have felt the trip was worth it. But the activities for the day were far from done.

Mayberry Meet Up, Part I

Since Liberty Grove Press LLC was founded with the goal of increasing the number of books available about The Andy Griffith Show, it should come as no surprise that my first blog post is Mayberry-related. In future posts, I won’t limit myself only to discussing my favorite television series, but anyone who knows me will not be surprised that it will be a frequent topic.

After attending for the first time in 2006 and again in 2010, for the past several years in a row I have attended the festival known as Mayberry Days, always held the last full weekend of September in Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. The weekend of July 20, however, I was able to attend a quite different event: my first Mayberry Meet Up in beautiful Mount Airy.

The Mayberry Meet Up is a much more laid-back affair than Mayberry Days which draws tens of thousands of Mayberry fans over the weekend. The event last weekend was attended by roughly 80 fans and was held on the grounds of the Mayberry Motor Inn. I am a fan of spots that are unique to an area. During the Mayberry Days festival, the motor inn is always booked with the “tribute artists” who perform as characters from the show during Mayberry events. I have perennially kept my name on the waiting list for the motor inn to no avail and thus have always stayed at the Hampton Inn. So just getting to stay at the motor inn was a treat.

Squad car and Emmett’s Fix-It Shop truck parked outside the motel.

The motel is a pristine example of the “motor hotels” that were once the primary type of road accommodations for traveling motorists. Like most of this dying breed, the building consists of guest rooms and an office joined side-by-side with doors facing the parking lot. Because of the connection with the Mayberry family, some of the rooms have plaques inside naming the room after cast members such as Maggie Peterson-Mancuso (Charlene Darling) or Allan Newsome and Kenneth Junkin, the Floyd and Otis tribute artists respectively.

The gazebo on the motel grounds.

Speaking of Allan, he and his wife Jan are the organizers of the event which started in 2013 when he was in town to interview Betty Lynn who played Thelma Lou and who now lives in Mount Airy. Allan announced he was open to visiting with fellow fans and long story short, it became an annual tradition that has grown every year.

Someone at the event was asked what the Meet Up was like and they responded it was like a family reunion where everyone loves The Andy Griffith Show. That is a great description. I knew a few of the people there in advance from previous Mayberry Days and through Facebook, but I felt welcome by all. I can guarantee that anyone would feel welcome in such a group. It was my first time to attend but it won’t be my last.

Attendees of the Meet Up on Saturday.