I won’t waste anyone’s time trying to describe the career of the man or the way his work and collaboration has touched people. I’m so fortunate to live in a tiny town which we for years have often referred to as Mayberry, to the extent I even got to say “Good morning, Sheriff.” not long ago in the village. (Yes, it really was the Sheriff, a neighbor whose son dated my daughter in school.)
Just wanted to share an outline of an episode that touched my heart and soul, helped to shape my Armchair Zen, and to this day brings tears to my eyes. Andy Griffith’s career included much more than his character of Sheriff Taylor in two TV series’, but it is this character for which he is best known and loved. He had a lot of influence on the show’s production, including the location of the fictional Mayberry, not far from his home, which I believe was Mount Airy.
In this episode, his young son Opie (Ron Howard, now a Hollywood legend in his own right, who describes working on the show as a wonderful life-building experience, and Mr.Griffith as everything we see in Andy Taylor) has a BB gun, and shoots a songbird in the tree beside his bedroom window. While Andy is a sportsman, he is deeply disappointed and angry with Opie that he would shoot a songbird, an unsportsmanlike act. In addition, the bird has a nest of fledglings, now orphaned. In scolding his son, he opens the bedroom window as Opie is put to bed, and tells the child to listen to those babies calling for their mother who is never coming home, to drive home the impact of Opie’s actions.
Subsequently, Opie decides to redeem himself by taking the birds in, putting them in a cage, feeding and raising them as restitution for his crime against nature. Mr.Taylor is pleased that his son is learning about his impact, and has taken a proactive step to remedy his wrongdoing.
Before long, the little fledglings are grown enough to leave the nest. The child has become attached to the creatures as pets, and the father admonishes him that the right thing to do is set them free to return to the wild. This is a difficult and agonizing thing for a child of perhaps six years of age, but ultimately he follows through with his father’s wishes and advice, and the birds are released to fly off.
In the last scene, Opie is a bit forlorn that the fun and excitement, the gratification of having the birds in his room, is over. Pouting, he looks at the vacant birdcage as his father stands at the bedroom window from which the tale began.
“Gee, pa, that cage sure looks empty.”, the lad says longingly.
“Yes.”, Andy says, as he turns to the window and gazes out with a half-smile and a glad heart.
“But don’t the trees look nice and full.”
Be at peace