My Additional Travels After the 2019 Mayberry Meet-Up, Part I: Siler City

Wow, did time get away from me. I feel like Tom Silby returning to Mayberry after being away so long.

My initial inability to keep up with even the occasional blog post was the result of it taking a bit longer than I had guessed to get my upcoming book Mayberry Firsts to bed. I think Mayberry fans will find it was worth the extra wait. The book is at the printer and will be released shortly.

Frankly, after every moment of spare time spent doing last-minute polishing on the book, I just needed a break. And as soon as I was rested and before I knew it, it was time to leave for the 2019 Mayberry Meet-Up in beautiful Mount Airy, North Carolina. I will post about the gathering soon.

So while all that is enough to illustrate I have been busier than Andy and all the rest trying to get a town band concert together at the last minute, I also added on to my trip. While other attendees headed home on Sunday, I headed east for what I knew would be an incredible experience.

Frances Bavier’s Siler City home.

Before I got to my ultimate destination, I stopped in Siler City. I first located Frances Bavier’s former home which she arranged to be purchased sight-unseen before retiring there. I was respectful of the current owners and did not approach the house but I did take several photos from the road.

I then visited Frances Bavier’s gravesite in Oakwood Cemetery in Siler City. I knew from seeing various photos that fans often leave jars of pickles at the gravesite. That is clearly still the case.

After my visit to Siler City, I got back on the road and headed on to my final destination: Andy Griffith’s alma mater, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

12 Replies to “My Additional Travels After the 2019 Mayberry Meet-Up, Part I: Siler City”

  1. Another nice blog Randy. Still on my bucket list. Looking forward to learning what all you dug up at Chapel Hill ! It is been a fun summer and more to come in a couple of months. Very nice photos of the house and grave site. You would not believe the number of people I have met that still think TAGS was filmed in North Carolina, I even had one fellow telling me that Aunt Bee (I don’t think he even knew her real name, was born, raised and died in Siler City 🙂

  2. Looking forward to the book Randy. Glad you got down this way. I grew up in Siler City and now live in Raleigh.

    I remember kids always talking about going sledding at “Aunt Bee’s hill” just down from her house. Did you notice the nice sledding hill on Elk street? I never had any personal interaction with her but did see her in the hospital in the mid 80’s in a room beside my mom. My daddy told me about seeing her Studebaker being unloaded (I believe from a rail car) when she moved to town. There are a number of feral cats all around Siler City that are said to be descendents of her cats. It makes for good story telling anyway…

      1. I would love that, Ted! I just sent both my email and physical mailing addresses tom you through Facebook Messenger.

  3. Thanks for the comment, Shannon. I have been to Raleigh several times but somehow never made it to Siler City. I noticed the area around her house was hilly enough that it could make for some good sledding! Frances reportedly asked her friend to buy a house in a price range Frances was used to in California. And as you know, the result was she ended up a single elderly woman living by herself in a 17-room house (though I know she eventually had nurses there as well).

  4. An excellent read.
    Next time I go to Mt. Airy, NC. I hope to drive a little farther to Siler City and see her home and gravesite as well.
    Hope to read about your trip to Chapel Hill soon.
    Thanks
    Lynn

  5. I’ve always been very fond of Frances and the character she portrayed! We visit her gravesite each Fall/Autumn. It’s been so many years ago that we attended the auction after she passed. I bought some of the wallpaper from her home and I had a swatch framed and gave it to my dad. Dad and I watched the show every week back in the 60’s. Dad passed away in 2007 but mama still proudly displays it her home. You hear so many people say negative things about Frances’ demeanor and the relationship between her and Andy. I choose not to believe any of the gossip! If you talk with the folks that really knew her and were her friends they paint an entirely different picture of our beloved, Frances. God bless her! And as with any of the citizens of Mayberry, (like your mama taught you) if can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. And like Opie said, “she needs me!”

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