Mayberry Days, 2018 – Part V

In an effort to get Mayberry fans to know who I am as I was publicly launching Liberty Grove Press, I had earlier reached out to the Surry Arts Council about being in the parade. I learned that their entry fee was covered if I placed an ad in their annual free newspaper The Mayberry Confidential. Some of starting a new business is learning what to do better next time. My ad mentioned the upcoming book This Week in Mayberry History. I will eventually release the book which I am still writing, but “coming soon” was a bit off since I have released Mayberry Firsts and another Mayberry Day-by-Day desk calendar as I write this and still have not released the book mentioned in the ad.

Just as I had been told to be at the country club early on Thursday night and found myself the only one there, I had a similar experience Saturday morning when I showed up at the parade staging route when I was told to be there only to find literally no one else was there yet. It did allow me to get a great early-morning photo of Main Street in Mount Airy.

We had breakfast as Snappy Lunch where Rob insisted his son Matt have the world-famous pork chop sandwich even though it was breakfast, so the rest of us followed suit.

We were back at the parade staging area in plenty of time to visit with others, which is a really fun aspect of being in the parade  had not anticipated.

Signing a couple of calendars for Jeff Koontz at the parade staging ground. Jeff does so much to make Mayberry Days a reality.

That included Rob and me getting a photo with the tribute artists who play my Facebook chapter’s namesakes.

The parade itself was a hoot for me. I threw out candy and pencils, the latter with my website printed on one side and Andy and Barney’s high school alma mater on the other.

After a quick trip to show  Matt the largest open face granite quarry in the world which is also in Mount Airy, my friends dropped me off at Wally’s to do another signing. Tamera runs the fantastic gift shop inside the service station. Many Mayberry fans have discovered that her pricing on Mayberry items is the best in town. Wally’s is on Main Street but is a little removed from the main part of town. Tamera hosts bluegrass bands, food trucks, and other vendors, meaning a trip to Wally’s is a must. Not to mention the squad car tours that leave from the business. In fact, while I was doing the calendar signing, Rob, Matt, and Dick took a tour.

You never know who might show up at Wally’s.

As I mentioned in my last post, someone asked me how much he owed me for signing their calendar. I had laughingly told my friends about this over dinner the previous night and assumed this was a one-time occurrence. But it happened two more times during my signing at Wally’s.

Now, this is a tribute artist who is a dead ringer for the actual character actor.

Mayberry Days, 2018 – Part IV

In my last post, I described how Friday morning began with a couple of mild disappointments followed by the never-disappointing Andy Griffith Museum. The day just continued to get better when I ran into my buddy Sarah who even happened to be wearing one of our Gomer and Goober Comic Book Literary Guild t-shirts! You can’t spend a few minutes with Sarah and not smile!

We also had a chance to check out the newly-built “whittling wall.” The wall used to be a spot where local men gathered and whittled while their wives were in the stores shopping. This was actually a common sight in small Southern towns. I remember seeing the same thing in Jackson, Kentucky when we visited during my childhood. Mount Airy commissioned a series of sculptures made from bricks showing, of course, a whittler as well as a textile worker since the textile industry had been one of the town’s main employers years ago. Local celebrities are also pictured, including country singer Donna Fargo.

Friday afternoon we attended the trivia contest at the Blackmon Amphitheater. It was extra fun to see my buddy Mike Haviland take second place (based on a tie-breaker) while wearing one of our chapter shirts. Even better was that the afore-mentioned Sarah always hands out the trophies in her guise as “Miss Mayberry.” Sarah also still had on her chapter shirt, so The Gomer and Goober Comic Book Literary Guild was well represented!

Mike with his Gomer and Goober Pyle Comic Book Literary Guild t-shirt on, front and center!

As I previously said, a special aspect of the 2018 Mayberry Days was that my old college roommate, Dick, attended with us. Dick and I along with another college friend had attended Mayberry Days together for the first time in 2006. Making it even better, my buddy Rob’s son, Matt, came over late Friday afternoon from Raleigh to attend his first Mayberry Days with us.

While at the group photo Allan Newsome always arranges after the trivia contest, we met Hal, a member of my Facebook chapter I had never met in person. When I learned he was attending the festival by himself, I invited him to join us for dinner.

The five of us ate that evening at the Derby restaurant which had been recommended to me by locals. I had breakfast there during the previous Mayberry Meet-Up by myself, but I had been told the Friday night fish fry was a must. We had all-you-can-eat fish, potato, coleslaw, and hushpuppies for—would you believe $5.65?! We likely would not even have asked for seconds on fish but the server brought another plateful without being asked. I guess she could tell we were a group of hearty-eatin’ men.

We ended the fun day with the VW Boys concert which was as entertaining as always. And of course, I had to get my annual photo with the lovely Christie as the grown-up Andelina.

A lot of the Mayberry tribute artists joined Tim White of the VW Boys on stage at one point.

Mayberry Days, 2018 – Part III

As is our tradition, we got up early Friday morning and headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway. By doing so, we miss the Mayor’s Proclamation first thing Friday morning but we also know the hectic day ahead of us, so it is nice to start off at a more relaxed pace.

Rob and I usually eat at the restaurant at Maybry Mill, but the year before we were in a small store in Meadows of Dan that had a food counter in the back. Whatever they were cooking that year smelled really good, so we decided we would try it out on this trip. My college roommate, Dick, had never been, so he was up for whatever we wanted.

The food counter in the back of Poor Farmer’s store in Meadows of Dan.
Biscuits and gravy with a side of bacon served in a styrofoam “to-go” box: the breakfast of champions.

 

While the store is definitely worth the visit with a pretty nice selection of unusual soda pops, the breakfast was a bit disappointing. Not bad but not what we had hoped. But you don’t know if you don’t try.

 

After our annual stop at Nancy’s Candy Factory, we still went up the parkway to see the mill, one of the most photographed spots on the parkway.

 

Maybry Mill.

We then headed back south to see Peggy at Mayberry Trading Post. We were disappointed that Peggy was not there due to some minor eye surgery but still had a good time looking through the store. I also dropped off the order of calendars Peggy had ordered, the last of the deliveries I had to make.

The first time I ever visited the Mayberry Trading Post, Peggy was impressed I knew who Lum and Abner were.
A framed collection behind the counter commemorates when Betty Lynn came to see “the real Mayberry.”

Between our inferior breakfast and Peggy not being at the Trading Post, that was two disappointments in a row. Luckily, after we returned to Mount Airy, we toured The Andy Griffith Museum which is never a disappointment.

Shot from a different angle by a better photographer, this would make a nice cover for a book!

Mayberry Days, 2018 – Part II

Likely just because I was new, Tanya at the Surry Arts Council asked me to do a calendar signing at the banquet on Thursday evening. While I was happy to do so, it did cramp any relaxation for the evening. When I finally left the autograph room, I had to wolf down my meal in order to be done before seeing the main act, comedian Henry Cho.

I was told I needed to be at the country club by 4:00 as the doors open at 5:00. I was there at 4:00—virtually by myself! Other than Allan Newsome, the Floyd tribute artist who served as emcee for the evening and so was going over his notes, literally no one else other than the staff of the club was there.

Of course, as it got close to 5:00, the celebrities started streaming in. The biggest perk for me was where I sat. I was not actually selling the calendars themselves. The arts council had bought them and were the ones actually selling them; I was just there to sign them. Since I would not be handling money, they put me at the one table where the only other person there did not have to handle their own money—the ever-lovely Betty Lynn! A person from the arts council sat between us to take money. Of course, that also meant I spent the evening at the table with the longest line of people seeking an autograph since Betty always has that effect.

My view throughout the banquet signing session.

I was able to distribute copies of the calendars as gifts to many of the celebrities in attendance before the doors were opened, including Betty, Maggie Peterson-Mancuso, Rodney Dillard, LeRoy McNees, Clint Howard, Karen Knotts, and more. So other than me, everyone seated had either been on the show or was the child of a cast member.

I am not sure the thought of me doing a signing there was the best. I signed a LOT of calendars that night, but the vast majority had been purchased in town at one of the shops carrying them so they were not buying them from the arts council. Not all, mind you, but a lot. The celebrities in attendance charge a nominal fee for their autographs, usually around $10. I got quite the chuckle when someone came up and explained they had bought two of my calendars at the store Mayberry on Main in town and asked if I would still be okay with signing them. I told them I would be happy to. After doing so, the person asked me, “How much?” I was confused and asked if they meant how much the calendars were being sold for at the banquet. He responded, “No, how much do I owe you for signing them?” It was everything I could do not to explode with laughter. Instead, I just chuckled and said that it was my pleasure.

My friends Johnna and Marsha were in line to get Betty’s autograph. A man behind them saw me and asked if they knew who I was. They told him my name and explained I was an author who had just released his first publication, a desk calendar. He asked, “Oh, okay. But who was he on the show?”

I love that.

Mayberry Days, 2018 – Part I

I began this blog at the end of July last year with my first post about an event I had just attended for the first time, the Mayberry Meet-Up. I have not tried to cover all the Mayberry events back-to-back, instead posting about my very first travels to Mount Airy, then eventually covering Mayberry Days 2015, Mayberry Days 2016, my first trip to Mayberry in the Midwest in 2017, Mayberry Days 2017 with a side trip to Morgantown, West Virginia, Mayberry in the Midwest 2018, the Mayberry Meet-Up 2018, Mayberry in the Midwest 2019, and finally the Mayberry Meet-Up 2019 along with my visit to Siler City and Chapel Hill.

Which means I should finally get caught up on the last two Mayberry Days, especially as they saw the public debut of Liberty Grove Press.

I released my first publication through Liberty Grove Press, the 2019 Mayberry Day-by-Day Flip Book Calendar, a desk calendar with a fact about The Andy Griffith Show each day. The facts are not random. Each of the 365 facts is tied to the particular day on which it appears. (And, of course, the 2020 version is now available!) I had approached various shops in Mount Airy who decided to stock the calendar. Since I am constantly trying to spread the word about my young publishing house, I arranged to be in the parade. But what to ride in?

Cut to my Mayberry Days traveling buddy, Rob, who has to travel extensively in his job and thus had enough points for a free rental. Rob arranged a simple, nondescript car…

Rob in his sweet rental.

Well, actually, he rented a bright yellow Ford Mustang convertible which we picked up at the Cincinnati airport a day or two before we were to leave.

2018 was extra special for me as my old college roommate, Dick, came along for the festival. It was undoubtedly a tight ride down as I brought all the calendars shops in town had ordered and the calendars by nature are far bulkier than traditional books.

The wonderful Tamera at Wally’s Service Station not only carried the calendars, she asked me to do a signing on Saturday. When I later talked with Tanya of the Surry Arts Council, she ended up asking me to do a signing at the Thursday night banquet as well. Thus, we needed to leave early as I would not only need to drop off the calendars to the Mount Airy shops that were carrying them, I needed to be at the banquet to set up for the signing.

We headed out early, having a nutritious breakfast of Holtman’s Donuts as we traditionally do. We made it to Mount Airy before Snappy Lunch closed at 1:15.

Snappy Lunch.
Frying up just a little bacon.

Instead of the go-to world-famous pork chop sandwich, I tried the restaurant’s “breaded burger” alongside a traditional burger.

A breaded burger on the left and all-meat on the right.
At Snappy Lunch, you have to choose the type of basic burger you want.

We then dropped off the calendars to the various shops, checked into the hotel, then headed to the country club where the banquet was to be held after the annual golf tournament.

I had sent some calendars early so it was fun to arrive and see some already on display.

Requesting a Favor from Those Who Have a Copy of Mayberry Firsts

It has been an unusually busy few weeks for me between various speaking engagements, Mayberry Days, and a trip to Hocking Hills, Ohio to experience their well-known pumpkin show for the first time!

I will discuss all these (well, the Mayberry-related events, at least) in more detail over the coming weeks, along with previous Mayberry festivals I have not already covered, but I do want to publicly say how thankful I am to have the opportunity to do my small part in spreading the Mayberry spirit.

I do have a favor to ask.

My book Mayberry Firsts is available through Amazon. Even if you bought the book directly from me, bought it through Weaver’s Department Store, or bought it at a shop in Mount Airy or Meadows of Dan, I would really appreciate a review on Amazon if you could take the time. While many fans are involved in the Mayberry community and are already well aware of Liberty Grove Press, more casual fans may not be. I do not pretend to understand all of Amazon’s algorithms, but I do know that reviews help push the book up in standings so a casual shopper looking for books on The Andy Griffith Show will not have to scroll back eight pages to find Mayberry Firsts!

To write a review, this link should take you there. If not, just search for “Mayberry Firsts” on Amazon and the book will pop up right away. Click on the title and on the book’s page, scroll down and click on “Write a customer review” on the left. My understanding is you have to have spent $50 at Amazon over the past year to write a review. You definitely are not required to have purchased the book through Amazon.

A special thank you to all of you have already written such generous reviews thus far!

A reminder that our new annual Mayberry Day-by-Day desk calendar is available through our website and all the other previously mentioned sources with the exception of Amazon. I hope to get it posted on Amazon soon but just have not yet found the time to do so!

Your generous support of my writings enable me to continue to write more. And I can tell you that 2020 will not only bring new writings. I also have some other surprises in store for next year! After all, 2020 is the 60th anniversary of The Andy Griffith Show so we need to celebrate!

2020 Mayberry Day-by-Day Calendar Announcement, Update

In my last blog post, I announced the new 2020 Mayberry Day-by-Day Flip Book Calendar.

The calendar was shipped today to everyone who pre-ordered the publication. I will add it to our website shop at some point next week before I leave for Mayberry Days. If you order one through our mayberrybooks.com website, I am always happy to sign and personalize the calendar to a specific name, if desired.

The calendar will also be available through other sources, of course. Beginning late Thursday afternoon, you can find it in Mount Airy at Wally’s Service, Mayberry on Main, Mayberry Hotel & Gift Shoppe, Mayberry Market & Souvenirs, and the Mill Creek General Store.

If you are traveling through Mayberry, Virginia or along the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, the calendar will also be available beginning Friday morning at the historic Mayberry Trading Post, the general store pictured in Mayberry Firsts.

By the way, all of these fine businesses listed in the last two paragraphs also have (or will have by the weekend) our book, Mayberry Firsts. The book will also available as of Thursday at the Mayberry Motor Inn in Mount Airy and as of Friday at Meadows Mercantile in Meadows of Dan, Virginia.

I will be delivering a large supply of the calendars to Weaver’s Department Store while at Mayberry Days, so I am sure they will have them available promptly after their return from the festival. I will also add them to Amazon the week after I return from Mayberry Days.

Back cover of the calendar.

I want to remind everyone attending Mayberry Days that I will be signing the new calendar and Mayberry Firsts at Wally’s on Saturday after the parade but before Prof. Brower’s lecture from 11:30 to 1:30.

And finally, I will also have the calendar for sale along with Mayberry Firsts at most appearances I make providing presentations on The Andy Griffith Show.

Just like last year, the calendar includes an easel that bends into a triangle shape so the item can be used as a desk calendar. At the end of the year, the easel can be removed (or folded flat again if you want to keep the item in its original form) and can be used as a reference book.

A sincere thank you is offered to all the Mayberry fans who have been so supportive of our mission to help keep the Mayberry spirit alive and spread it to as many fans as possible.

Long live Mayberry!

2020 Mayberry Day-by-Day Calendar Announcement

The new 2020 Mayberry Day-by-Day Flip Book Calendar will be released in just a few weeks. My plan is to do a new calendar annually for the foreseeable future. Of course, how could I not do so for the year 2020 since next year is the 60th anniversary of the debut of The Andy Griffith Show?

When I say “new,” I really mean it. This calendar is not a reprint of last year’s. It contains 366 all-new facts about our favorite show. (2020 is a Leap Year.) Just like the original, the publication is designed to be used as a desk calendar through the year with pages that are flipped over each day instead of being removed. At the end of the year, the easel can be removed if desired and it becomes a book that can be kept as a reference.

I had already changed the wording on the cover to reflect the 60th Anniversary. But I was thrilled to have the cover re-designed when I heard from Dixie Griffith, Andy’s daughter. I had gifted a copy of last year’s calendar to Dixie having it delivered to her through a mutual friend. Several months ago, I was surprised with a sweet email from Dixie who wanted to tell me how much she was enjoying the calendar every day.

Fast forward a bit and Dixie had agreed to write a blurb to be used on the cover. To say I was thrilled with her generosity and kindness toward the calendar is an understatement. Having her comment on the cover means so much to me.

The calendar will be available through my website which is your best option if you want your copy signed or personalized to a particular name. The calendar will also be available at shops in Mount Airy beginning with Mayberry Days, including Mayberry on Main and Wally’s Service Station. In fact, I will be doing a signing at Wally’s on Saturday after the parade but before Prof. Brower’s lecture from 11:30 to 1:30.

I am especially excited that the calendar will also be available through Weaver’s Department Store, the online shop run by Allan and Jan Newsome.  Not only does this couple do so much for the Mayberry community, but part of the proceeds of Weaver’s sales goes to support Mayberry events, many of which include Allan as the Floyd the barber tribute artist as a vital element. Weaver’s has LOTS of items related to The Andy Griffith Show, including my book Mayberry Firsts. You won’t regret making a purchase from Weaver’s!

It was great to see my book get a shout out in the current issue of Weaver’s newsletter alongside the shout out always included for the facebook group I co-administer, The Gomer and Goober Pyle Comic Book Literary Guild.

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.