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.
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.
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.
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.