My Additional Travels After the 2019 Mayberry Meet-Up, Part XII: Mount Airy

On my third and final day of reviewing Andy Griffith’s original scripts at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, I was only able to stay half a day as I had an appointment to meet with a friend who is a longtime resident of Mount Airy.

On my first day in Mount Airy before the Mayberry Meet-Up began, I spent a good deal of time running around town showing shops which might potentially choose to sell Mayberry Firsts in the fall. Even so, I did not get the opportunity to visit them all so I also was able to complete that task by leaving the library a bit early as well.

In my book Mayberry Firsts, I discuss what I personally feel is the likeliest inspiration for Andy Griffith’s character on the show having the last name of “Taylor.”

Of course, the name Taylor is found in nearly any part of the country. There certainly were Taylors who resided in Mount Airy. I stayed in a beautiful bed and breakfast my last night in Mount Airy which is on Taylor Street. There is also a Perry Taylor Road. But my friend showed me a Taylor grave monument that was in a small cemetery I did not even know existed.

There is an attorney’s office nearly right across the street from Wally’s on South Main Street. In the back of the parking lot is an iron gate that opens into a small, secluded cemetery that is not listed on most lists of cemeteries in Mount Airy. The marker is so worn, it is difficult to read. The name Taylor and the Masonic square and compasses symbol are easily visible, but the dates are worn badly. It appears to say Taylor died on December 19, 1892, aged 22 years, and an indecipherable number of months and days.

So while the theory I provide in Mayberry Firsts is my personal guess as to what is most likely, there is certainly no way to know for sure as Andy was undoubtedly and not surprisingly exposed to people named Taylor in Mount Airy.

By the way, there is a town called Taylorsville over an hour south of Mount Airy that is sometimes floated as a possible inspiration for the name. I do not think this likely. Regardless, the town was not even so named because of local residents. It was formed in 1847 and named in honor of General Zachary Taylor of Virginia who became a national hero due to victories he won in the Mexican-American War. Two years after the small town’s founding, Taylor’s military record led to his becoming the 12th president of the United States.

My Additional Travels After the 2019 Mayberry Meet-Up, Part XI: Chapel Hill

I wrote earlier about discovering which dorm Andy Griffith stayed in for at least the first couple of years at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill while I was there reviewing his original scripts for The Andy Griffith Show.

I was also curious about seeing the building which hosted the Carolina Playmakers. This is a long-established student theater group at the university. It still exists though it is now known as the Playmakers Repertory Company though the theater still has the name “Playmakers Theatre” over the door.

The Playmakers Theatre.

I knew through previous research that Andy was passing by the theater one night and saw an audition sign-up sheet for the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera The Gondoliers. He recalled that he had absolutely no idea who Gilbert and Sullivan even were, but he signed up. He won a role and received good reviews for his solos in the show. He cited his involvement with the Playmakers as the reason he eventually decided to switch from studying ministry to music.

His involvement with the Playmakers also led to his not returning to Mount Airy to work in the furniture factory that summer but instead taking a cut in pay and performing in the outdoor drama The Lost Colony in Manteo, North Carolina.

Andy stayed involved with the Playmakers. One role ended up having an influence on an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. Andy was cast as the lead in a play called Egypt Land which was based on the life of folk singer and guitarist Leadbelly. This was his first dramatic role. He was cast by the play’s writer and director, a UNC graduate student named Bob Armstrong. The two had also appeared together in The Lost Colony and become friends. Armstrong eventually also became a successful actor and formally used his initials as part of his stage name, known to most as R.G. Armstrong, though Mayberry fans know him better as the gruff farmer Flint who would not initially allow his daughter, Frankie, to accept any cosmetics or dresses from Ellie.

When I discovered the location of the Playmakers building, I realized Andy being in Steele dorm meant there was almost no way he could not have been exposed to the theater group. Just as I had walked by Andy’s old dorm without knowing it at first, I had also walked by the rear of the Playmakers building, which stood just yards from Andy’s dorm.

My view as I walked down this diagonal walkway each morning to reach a walkway that ran alongside the green space. The two walkways meet near the rear of the Playmakers Theatre right beside Andy’s former dorm.
While it is a bit hard to see, the yellowish building barely visible to the left of Andy’s dorm is the back of the Playmakers Theatre where the stage door is located.
Andy’s dorm right beside the theater is seen easily from this camera angle.

Seeing the Playmakers Theatre and Andy’s dorm made the trip all that more meaningful to me.

My Additional Travels After the 2019 Mayberry Meet-Up, Part X: Roadside Attractions in Winston-Salem Interlude Conclusion

In addition to the Reynolds Building and Mickey’s Coffeepot, Winston-Salem had a couple of other roadside attractions of note.

Large statues of bulls or cows (along with roosters and chickens) are some of the more popular roadside attractions to be found. Many restaurants use them to call attention to their businesses, usually set on the ground or sometimes a rooftop.

Winston-Salem had one instead mounted high off the ground advertising a butcher shop. The Thrif-Way (and no, that’s not a typo) butcher shop’s statue is held aloft by two poles.

But the main attraction I was interested in seeing and the one that really got me off the road during my travels is a symbol of the days when fossil fuel was celebrated, a former Shell filling station shaped like—well, of course, a shell.

Eight of these shell-shaped stations were built in the late 1930s by a local marketer of Shell gasoline, the Quality Oil Company. The building is modeled on the trademarked logo of Shell Oil. It is built of a bent wood and wire frame covered with concrete stucco and painted in the same bright colors as the logo.

These eight filling stations were used for decades but eventually fell by the wayside notwithstanding their novelty. Sadly, seven were eventually torn down. This location was used by a lawnmower repair business during the 1970s and ‘80s. Finally, in the late 1990s Preservation North Carolina, a statewide historic society, purchased and restored the building, bringing it back from its state of disrepair and saving it as the last of its kind for future generations. While the building was not open while I was there, it is used by the organization as a regional office.

My Additional Travels After the 2019 Mayberry Meet-Up, Part IX: Chapel Hill

When I found Andy Griffith’s first letter home after moving to Chapel Hill for college, it included his dorm address. UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus is large, but I decided to try to locate the dorm if it still existed.

My view every morning of the diagonal walkway as I entered the campus.

When approaching campus from the parking garage I used, there is an enormous green space lined with buildings. The Louis Wilson Round Library is at the far end of this tree-filled area. A sidewalk that runs parallel to the street bordering campus cuts the green space in half. From where I entered the campus, I followed a sidewalk that cut across the first half of the green space at a diagonal to reach that halfway point. From there, I walked along the edge of the farther, second half of the green space to reach the library.

When I looked at a campus map, I discovered that Andy’s old dorm was not only still standing, but it was at the juncture of the diagonal sidewalk and sidewalk along the edge of the parklike open area. I had literally walked right by it the day before.

Andy’s college dorm. It was Steele dorm at the time but is now called the Steele Building.

The building is no longer a dormitory, however. It is now an administration building. I knew Andy had stayed his freshman year at least in room 17. I went into the building, presuming the room configurations would no longer exist but wanting to be sure. Unfortunately, I was right. The building was gutted when it was converted from a dorm to an administration building. The young woman at the front desk did not know where room 17 would have been, but her smile also told me that my comment that Andy used to live there was not news to her.

I do not know if Andy stayed in the same dorm his entire time he attended Chapel Hill, but there was other correspondence in the files that showed near the end of the school year in 1946, he still lived in the same dorm though he was now in room 33.

While I think it is unlikely I will have any luck, in advance of my next visit I plan to see if there are any old floor plans which would show the original location of rooms 17 and 33. After all, the exterior of the building has not changed so his dorm windows could at least be located.

The brick walkway never had a chance.

My Additional Travels After the 2019 Mayberry Meet-Up, Part VIII: Roadside Attractions in Winston-Salem Interlude

As regular readers know, I am a fan of roadside attractionsIn addition to those in and near Mount AiryI had the opportunity to visit some good ones in Winston-Salem while on my drive to Siler City on the way to Chapel Hill.

The Reynolds Building was completed in 1929. This 22-floor skyscraper made claim as the “Tallest Building in the South” until the 1960s when larger buildings were built that unquestionably negated the popular claim. The building is considered a roadside attraction as it was the design inspiration for the much larger Empire State Building in New York City. The Empire State Building consists of 102 stories and was completed in 1931.

The Reynolds building is now home to the Cardinal Hotel, part of the Kimpton boutique hotel chain.

Locals often tell the apocryphal story that the staff of the Empire State Building sends a “Father’s Day card” to the staff at the Reynolds Building annually due to the building being the predecessor to the New York City skyscraper. While that story is basically a local urban legend, it has been verified that the Empire State Building staff actually did send a 50th birthday card in 1979.

Winston-Salem has what looks to be an interesting “living museum,” a restored 18th Century Moravian community called the Old Salem Museums and Gardens. (Salem pre-dated the town of Winston and the two incorporated as one town in 1913.) While I only drove by the grounds, I did see another roadside attraction that originated in the village: a giant coffeepot.

Julius Mickey ran a grocery store in the mid-1800s in Salem and added a tin shop in the building’s loft as a side business. His craftsmanship was such that the tin shop soon took over as his primary source of income. Unfortunately, a rival tin shop opened up nearby run by an unscrupulous tinsmith who would steal Mickey’s business when people asked where Mickey’s tin shop was located.

To solve the problem and make it clear to all which shop was his, Mickey built what is now referred to as the Mickey Coffeepot in 1858. The coffeepot served as both an advertisement and as a way for all to know which tin shop was Mickey’s, even if they were illiterate.

The coffeepot was already 40 years old in this 1898 photograph.

The seven-foot, three-inch tin pot has a circumference of 16 feet. While it was only a prop, the pot could hold 740 gallons if it was the real thing. Even at the time, the pot was so large that it caused issues with passing traffic.

In the 1960s, it was moved to where it now stands. Mounted to a pole on a traffic island near the museum grounds, the pot and pole together are more than 12 feet tall.

Lots of large coffeepots and even buildings shaped like coffeepots exist as roadside attractions, but the Mickey Coffeepot is the oldest.

Now 160 years old, the pot is a Winston-Salem landmark.

By the way, Mickey is a common last name in the Moravian community. When a young Andy Griffith wanted to learn to play the trombone, it was Rev. Ed Mickey of Mayberry’s Moravian Church who gave him lessons and served as a mentor to his musical development.

My Additional Travels After the 2019 Mayberry Meet-Up, Part VII: Chapel Hill

My goal at the Louis Wilson Round Library was to work my way through all five seasons of the black and white years. I was able to do so and also checked several color episodes to answer questions I had about them.

I did get a chance to look through the limited correspondence the library had in their archives. The first letter I removed from the file at random—and I still can’t believe it was not a copy but was the actual letter—was the first Andy wrote to his parents after he started college. This was truly moving for me. Andy came to college in July, earlier than I would have supposed. He told his parents he was not as homesick as he had thought he might be. He talked about boys he had met, noting one was blind and had a “fine tenor.” And it also contained the prosaic, with Andy asking his mother to send a pillowcase (which he called a pillowslip) since she had forgotten to pack him one.

There were also several books of Andy’s. One was a dictionary of pronunciation that contained his name from a rubber stamp he must have had made for some of his books.

The receipt was also enclosed and it is interesting to note that he was already sometimes using “Andrew” even though his legal given name was “Andy.” This was something he would continue to do while young.

The original is a bit hard to read since it was made with carbon paper.
I darkened the image to make it more legible.

Among the news clippings was a familiar sight: One of the hard copy Bullet newsletters that have been replaced by the eBullet.

I did not get to look through the photos as thoroughly as I would have liked. And yes, the library requires you to wear cotton gloves to handle them. And as noted, I still want to see all the color season scripts. Whenever I visit somewhere, I always say you should not try to do it all as you need to have a reason to go back. Looks like I will have to spend at least a couple more days in Chapel Hill in 2020!

My Additional Travels After the 2019 Mayberry Meet-Up, Part VI: Chapel Hill

In the last post, I discussed the paper color used in scripts for The Andy Griffith Show, though there was the occasional variation. This is not a unique way to handle script revisions.

The page colors for scripts have now been standardized by the Writers Guild of America (WGA). Unrevised scripts are now always in white with the next two colors the same as used in The Andy Griffith Show scripts: blue then pink. Further revisions are next on yellow, then green, then goldenrod, then buff, then salmon, then cherry. Revisions after that begin with “second blue revision” all the way through cherry again.

Sometimes the “color” of the paper is in name only for later revisions, meaning the “green” revision might actually be on white paper and will just have the words “GREEN REVISION” with a revision date at the top of each page. The “color” needs to be typed because unlike actors and the rest of the crew, script supervisors get a fresh script printed on white paper with each revision so they need the color to be stated. Likewise, if a PDF copy has to be made, it can then be printed on all white pages. And quite frankly, it saves the copy shop from having to keep colors such as cherry in stock.

When you watch these same scenes from The Andy Griffith Show pages shown in the photos, you will see the actors did not necessarily follow the lines verbatim, feeling free to put a slight spin on them to make the lines their own. In the script, when Otis tells Barney he can’t stay in jail since choir practice is that night, the script called for Barney to hit his palm with his fist and say, “Darn it!” That was scratched out and “Oh, yea” was written in as though Barney had just forgotten that it was the night for choir practice and now recalls it. As filmed, Barney does mouth an almost imperceptible “Oh, yea” without playing up the implicit joke that he had forgotten it was choir practice night. Knotts then reinserts part of the original line saying “Darn!” as he strikes his plan with his fist.

During the first three seasons, an “integrated commercial” was included at the end of every episode that at first usually seems to be extending the story. But as the commercial progresses, it always ends with Andy or another character breaking the fourth wall, speaking directly to the viewing audience, and often stating something that makes it clear the commercial is not canon. A first example is a good one: the commercial at the end of “The New Housekeeper.”

After Opie had told Andy and Aunt Bee in the tag ending that his pet bird, Dickie, had returned, Andy is shown putting Opie to bed. Opie asks why Andy really thinks Dickie came back. Andy repeats what he had originally said in the tag ending about Dickie enjoying the fried chicken at their house, but he then adds that the next time Opie feeds his bird he should top it off with a nice cup of Sanka coffee. Andy then explains about the qualities of Sanka coffee to Opie and adds “that little ole’ parakeet can drink, drink, drink all he wants ‘cause it’s 97% caffeine-free.”

This is already not canon and obviously a commercial instead of a true part of the original story. Andy even acknowledges his character is aware he is in a television show in the next exchange, When Opie says that parakeets don’t drink coffee, Andy replies.”They do on this program.” He then looks directly at the TV audience and says, “And so do a lot of us folks. What don’t you try Sanka Coffee? Thank you. Goodnight.”

This also illustrates that even though the scripts were tightly adhered to, they still were tweaked a bit by the actors. Even though the script describes Dickie as a parakeet, that is not actually used in the episode or the Sanka commercial.

All the integrated commercials were also written by Aaron Ruben. I had not known and was surprised to find that for the few episodes that they knew would be rerun after the season ended (there were only five reruns at the end of the first season), fresh integrated commercials were written for the rerun. So there were two sets of integrated commercials for the few episodes they knew would be rerun after the end of the season.

The various colors of paper make a limited rainbow of colors from the side.

My Additional Travels After the 2019 Mayberry Meet-Up, Part V: Chapel Hill

This was hanging just inside the door to the archive reading room, confirming I was where I should be!

I don’t mind to admit that I was downright giddy with excitement to actually be thumbing through Andy Griffith’s original scripts knowing he had held these scripts in his hands and done the same. It was an amazing experience for me.

The shooting scripts are on several different colors of paper. The colors seemed to eventually vary a bit, but in the earlier seasons, the original script was usually printed on a light canary yellow paper that almost photographs white. In later seasons, they were instead sometimes on white paper and sometimes on a vivid goldenrod. Several of the scripts by Aaron Ruben were printed on goldenrod and had little or no revisions, which should not come as a surprise since he was the story supervisor for the series.

Occasionally, a white, thin onionskin paper would be used for a page or two. Likewise, occasionally some pages were copies printed on a thicker, slick paper that is now nearly illegible. Presumably, this was because Andy’s scripts were missing some pages for whatever reason when it came time to bind them and these were copies to fill in the gaps.

The initial submitted script would always be on a single color (traditionally white paper but with the Mayberry scripts, often light yellow). The use of other colors of paper would not occur until a script had been accepted to be used and was locked in for scheduling.

The use of different colors of paper for revisions has always been standard practice for several reasons. Using different colors of paper makes it easier to keep track of revisions. The use of colored paper as inserts saves on photocopy costs (which at the time of The Andy Griffith Show would have been mimeograph costs). There is no need to reprint the entire script for each cast member. It is cheaper just to print the pages with changes and replace the original pages with the new inserts. Finally, it also saves time as cast and crew often write notes or changes in a script by hand, If they did so on a page that was not being revised yet the entire script was replaced, they would have to re-write their notes.

Title page.

After a title page, the next page lists the writers. At least one of the early scripts was not dated at all even though accepted “as is.”

This writers’ page is missing the usual date in the lower right-hand corner.

However, most of the writers’ credit pages were dated with the original date. These were also scripts which had been accepted “as is.”

“The Guitar Player” writers’ page which includes the date of completion in the lower right-hand corner which was on nearly every script.

Sometimes scripts, including “The New Housekeeper,” were sent back to the writers for a more extensive revision. The writers’ credit pages for those scripts instead included the date the revised script was submitted.

“The New Housekeeper” writers’ credit page includes the usual date of completion but this time it is the completion of a required revision of the entire script.

As noted, upon occasion last-minute revisions were made during shooting and were usually written in by Andy himself in his own copy of the script just as the other actors would have noted the same changes in their own handwriting in their copies. But the scripts underwent more revisions than those made last-minute.

Non-revised page 9 from “The Manhunt.” No dates are included on the page as it is a page from the original script. Note that the original script said Otis was to be released at three o’clock and Andy changed it to “12.” When Barney commented that Otis was their only prisoner, the script called for Andy to respond, “So?” Andy changed it to “Well?”

Regardless of whether the script had been completely revised by the original writers or not, after the table read, additional revisions were usually made based on input from the actors. The revised pages are on light blue paper and are inserted, always with the date of the revision on top.

Revised page 10 from “The Manhunt.” This revised page took the place of whatever had originally been page 10 in the original script. Note at the top of this revised page, the revision date is included. This date appears at the top of each of the revised pages. Andy again wrote some changes to the script, such as changing the word “criminal” to “convict.”

Finally, story consultant and producer Aaron Ruben would do a final polish. His pages are in pink and are inserted with no date of revision.

These final pages did not contain a revision date. If you watch this scene in “The Guitar Player,” you will see James Best slightly changed his dialogue.

My Additional Travels After the 2019 Mayberry Meet-Up, Part IV: Chapel Hill, Weenie Dogs Interlude

I am not usually a creature of habit when it comes to eating out while traveling. In fact, I try to avoid chain restaurants while on the road. I always feel that I can go to Olive Garden at home so why go to one while trying to get the feel of an area?

My time has been a bit limited when it comes to anything other than Mayberry Firsts and getting the 2020 Mayberry Day-by-Day Flip Book Calendar ready to go to press so I did not do as much of my usual research into good local restaurants to try in Chapel Hill. The one restaurant I had noted that was close to campus and the parking garage was a place that is known for good fried chicken. I wasn’t as hungry after the drive from Mount Airy to Chapel Hill so I decided to save the chicken joint for Monday night.

Instead, I decided to eat Sunday night after the Mayberry Meet-Up at a spot that was clearly popular with the students who were still around campus during summer session. I can’t deny the restaurant name was part of the reason I chose the restaurant. It was called Sup Dogs which I always now say as a question. Sup Dogs? I had a couple of dogs there and they were excellent.

Okay, I know the presentation isn’t stellar, but a really tasty Hillbilly dog!

Of course, I have a high standard when it comes to hot dogs. I had stopped at Hillbilly Hot Dogs in West Virginia on my way to the Mayberry Meet-Up. Sup Dogs did have excellent hot dogs though.

What the presentation of the food mat lack is made up for by Hillbilly Hot Dogs’ ambiance.

On Monday as I left the library after my first day, I was happy and elated with my experience but also exhausted. I also had quite an appetite. Each day I spent in the library, I skipped lunch in order to have more time looking through Andy Griffith’s scripts. I walked past Sup Dogs and arrived at the fried chicken restaurant. I didn’t even have to walk all the way to the door as there was a large sign was in the window stating they were closed Mondays. Too tired to look around more, I did something I don’t think I have ever done while traveling: I went to the same restaurant for dinner a second night in a row. I had read that Sup Dogs had good hamburgers as well. I have to say, I thought their burgers were every bit as good as their hot dogs.

Sup Dogs in Chapel Hill.

On Tuesday, I was again whipped and famished and was again looking forward to the fried chicken even more than before. The large sign I had seen the day before that said “Closed Mondays” was gone but I should have actually walked up to the door on Monday. They were open on Tuesdays—until 3:00 PM! They were only open for dinner on the weekends.

So—you guessed it—I returned to Sup Dogs for the third night in a row, this time for a burger and one of their less-loaded dogs, along with an ice-cold Cheerwine. The only explanation I can offer is I was traveling by myself, was tired each night, and the trip was not a traditional vacation.

In this instance, eating at the same place three nights in a row worked out well. The two full days I was there I literally left to drive to campus early, ate a granola bar for breakfast, spent all day doing research while skipping lunch and only drinking from a water fountain (if the library did not allow ink pens to be bought in, you know they didn’t allow drinks either!), having dinner at Sup Dogs, then going back to my single room Air B&B to work on my computer, watch a show on Netflix, then collapse, only to repeat the same pattern the next day.

I actually did the same the third day but had to leave the library a bit early as I had an appointment back in Mayberry to meet with a friend I wanted to talk to about another upcoming book project, So Sup Dogs never had a chance for a fourth night in a row!

My Additional Travels After the 2019 Mayberry Meet-Up, Part III: Chapel Hill

This sticker was on the inside of each script.

The Andy Griffith archives housed at the Louis Wilson Round Library are not extensive when it comes to photos, correspondence, and news clippings—though certainly some of each of these are available—but what they do have are all of Andy Griffith’s personal copies of his scripts from The Andy Griffith Show. Andy had them bound with a “library-quality” binding each season.

Statue in an alcove at the end of the lobby.

 

The library itself is beautiful and stately. In addition to the archive reading room, they have an extensive collection of items about the history of North Carolina, from displays of all the different types of money that was used before there was a standardized national currency to now-defunct soda pop to an exhibit on Chang and Eng Bunker, the Siamese twins who settled in Mount Airy.

 

I am a fan of regional soda pops. I would have loved to have tried Boone Cola based on the name alone.

I was at the door of the archive reading room before they opened. Once allowed in, the security measures became apparent. I keep my laptop in a protective, padded case. That was not allowed to be brought in. They provide lockers outside the entrance for such items. I had known that they did not allow pens but was surprised that if you wanted to bring in paper, they had to stamp each sheet. The simpler route is to use the pencils and pre-marked paper they provide in the archive room.

The archive reading room.

Once I showed identification and was photographed for their records, I was assigned a designated spot to sit and allowed to request material. Naturally, I started from the beginning with “The New Housekeeper,” The library system said the box included the pilot for The Andy Griffith Show but that is incorrect, They had misidentified the premiere as the pilot.

The bound scripts are contained in boxes. The scripts are bound in the order filmed, not the order aired, just like many syndicated airings of the show used to be.

After requesting a box, there was often a bit of a delay as the box was retrieved from storage. They are not just sitting out like books in a regular library. As each item is removed from a box, a large placeholder has to be inserted into the folder so items will be returned to the correct spot.

Open box with placeholder.

Photography was obviously allowed, but the books had to be viewed on foam rubber wedges. 

One last security measure to note. Whenever I left the room with my laptop, the computer had to be flipped open so they would know a piece of paper was not being smuggled out of the library.