After such a delightful lunch at Hickie’s, we made good time and arrived in Mount Airy in time for something I had planned without informing my friend, Rob. We went straight to Wally’s and took a squad car tour.
The tours leave from a building that evokes Wally’s filling station from The Andy Griffith Show. Tours are given in reproductions of the Mayberry squad car. If you are ever in Mount Airy, treat yourself and take a tour. It was definitely worth every penny. Our driver was quite knowledgeable about both the town and its occasional reflection in the show. He quickly realized what a fan I was and did not hold back on sharing as much information as one could take in during the tour.
Wally’s is also home to a shop known for having good and fair prices on Mayberry products of which they stock a nice selection. They also stock a lot of old-time candy many of us would remember from our childhoods.
If all that were not enough, another building next door houses a reproduction of the Mayberry Courthouse, complete with the sheriff’s desk and jail cell. There is also a reproduction of the Darling cabin along with the Darling’s truck. It was a perfect way to introduce Rob to “Mayberry” on our first evening.
We arrived near the end of Wally’s operating hours. After the tour, we asked to see the owner who we learned was Mike Cockerham. We told him how much we had enjoyed the tour and what a great job the driver had done for us. As we started to leave, I thought it would be worthwhile to ask for a restaurant recommendation as Snappy Lunch was about the extent of where I had been in town. Mike recommended a ribs restaurant called 13 Bones. He started to give us directions and then said we could just follow him since he was going there anyway. We responded we would do him one better and treat him to dinner. And that’s how we found ourselves passengers with the owner of Wally’s squad car tours as he drove to 13 Bones and called to tell his wife he would be home later than usual because he had met two nice fellas from Cincinnati who were taking him out to dinner.
That night at the Fairmont Inn, we discovered there were more notable people than us staying there.
We spent Friday exploring and also saw several shows. One was Karen Knotts’ one-woman show “Tied Up in Knotts” about her life and her father, Don Knotts.
We also saw a moving tribute to James Best, Mayberry’s own guitar playing wizard Jim Lindsey, called “Remember Me with Laughter.” Jimmie had passed away earlier that year and the tribute was hosted by his widow, Dorothy Best, and the Mayberry Deputy, David Browning.
We closed the evening with a truly entertaining concert by the VW Boys. This bluegrass band’s show was as much a comedy show as a concert and even included a bit of humorous magic. Before the concert began, a number of tribute artists were patrolling the aisles. When Andelina (the grown-up daughter of Charlene and Dud, played to perfection by Christie McLendon) saw me, she paraphrased Charlene Darling’s line and said, “My! You’re big as a tree.” Rob took a photo of us and has enjoyed teasing me about it to this day.
We had already had a full trip but we had another full day ahead.