From my archives: downtown Holton


While I was growing up in the ‘60s, I noticed that my grandmother seemed to prefer the days of her youth over the current times.

Grandma clung to the old ways. On wash day, she pulled her old wringer washer onto the front porch. At bath time, she’d heat water on her stove and carry it to the bathtub rather than use the new-fangled hot water heater. When nature called, Grandma would visit the wooden outhouse tucked away in the shelterbelt.

She spoke longingly about the good old days, which to us grandkids didn’t sound that good at all. We liked indoor plumbing, electricity, television and telephones.

But now, I can understand Grandma’s point of view. It’s easy to think that the old days were better.

Maybe she clung to the past because the ‘60s were a time of big changes and dramatic events: the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Vietnam War and the protests, the Civil Rights movement, the nuclear threat from Russia.

It was a scary world then and Grandma found comfort in the old ways.

It’s a scary world now, and I find comfort in the black-and-white reruns of “Andy Griffith.” When Andy died last month, I think we all returned to Mayberry in our minds.

Mayberry is a fictional place. The show’s purpose was to make the viewer feel happy and satisfied, and it was done in a way that wasn’t saccharine or cheesy.

The show aired from 1960-1968. Even after 50 years, the show holds up. Mayberry is symbolic of what we long for in society – a place where people get along, where folks work together toward a common goal.

Mayberry represents a place of safety, and it doesn’t seem too different from my childhood hometown. Many people in Pawnee Rock left the keys in their cars and their houses unlocked. If I didn’t put my bicycle away at night, I knew it would be there in the morning. Nowadays, we lock everything. There are safety seals on ketchup bottles and metal detectors at the courthouse. We live in a culture of fear. 2012 is a different time and a different place.

In the fictitious world of Mayberry, a spare key to the town’s drug store was kept on top of the door frame and the sheriff didn’t carry a gun. However, most of the problems Andy faced with weren’t actually of a criminal nature. He dealt with quirky personalities and uncomfortable interpersonal situations, but he handled them with patience and with common sense. And always with kindness.

Andy, Barney and Opie would rather eat dozens of Aunt Bee’s awful-tasting pickles rather than hurt her feelings.

On one show, Barney suggested that Andy run a suspicious person out of town and Andy said something like, “If I was to run everybody out of town that was actin’ strange, I figure I’d empty the whole town.”

Even though Barney’s antics could aggravate Andy, Andy never tried to fix him. He just let Barney and all the other resident be who they were. And is there not a better friend than someone who understands our idiosyncrasies and accepts us just as we are?

In an interview Andy Griffith once described the show like this, “It was about love. Barney would set himself up for a fall and Andy would be there to catch him.”

And that’s what stands out on the show for me – the patience and kindness of Andy Taylor. These are traits that I’d like to emulate.

My grandmother held onto the past. Often these days, I find myself wishing for the simpler times as well.

The past is gone, things have changed. But what we really long for, I think, is what those folks had in Mayberry: the small-town pace, the sense of connection, the friendliness, support from neighbors and friends, the wisdom of Andy Taylor.

We may not be able to do anything about a world that seems to be spinning crazily out of control, but perhaps we can create in our own lives those things that were found in Mayberry – a strong sense of community, kindness and acceptance, love and respect for one another.

“Flyover People” is online at Cheryl Unruh can be reached at

Copyright 2012 ~ Cheryl Unruh


  1. Thanks for writing this,Cheryl! I heartily agree with your conclusion–and I remember how much I enjoyed the Andy Griffith show…I need to find it on DVD and sit down with a bowl of popcorn and my favorite grandchild to watch!

  2. Excellent writing. Thanks Cheryl. I felt calmer just reading this and I love the idea of creating a Mayberry in our own homes and neighborhoods even if right now, we can’t create one in the world.

  3. Hey Cheryl…that is why Kansas is in my future…upstate NY is so far away from what I remember…I love NE Kansas more than any other place in these United States. Thanks for bringing up what we should all strive for.

  4. Yeah, I loved the Andy Griffith Show. All the characters were great, and you decent, genuinely laugh out loud humor without resorting to all the junk you see in movies and television today.

    Some of my favorite moments include Barney taking off on his motorcycle with sidecar, only to have the sidecar stay behind cause the guys hanging out had loosened the bolts.

    There was the episode with the guy who seemed to always have bad luck, and Barney along with other characters were making homespun charms to try and ward off the bad luck. “Close your eyes and give two winks and protect us from this awful jinx.”

    Great show. And great post. Thanks for writing it; it brings back good memories.

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