Mayberry, North Carolina is a fictitious community that was the setting for two popular American television sitcoms, The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D. Mayberry was also the setting for a 1986 reunion television movie titled Return to Mayberry. Mayberry is said to be based on Andy Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. Mount Airy is also known as Mayberry and this town is known by both names to the people who reside there.
The name "Mayberry"
According to show episodes, the community of Mayberry was named for fictional founder Lord Mayberry. Historically, the word Mayberry is of Anglo-Saxon origin and is a locational name, a dialectical variant of the placename Maesbury in Shropshire. Purportedly, Andy Griffith himself chose the name of the fictional community. Griffith, however, told Larry King in 2003 that Artie Stander is the person who thought of the name Mayberry; Stander was one of the show's creators and writers.
Mayberry is a real community in Patrick County, Virginia, located 22 miles northeast of Andy Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. The Mayberry Trading Post, home of the Mayberry, Virginia, post office until it closed in 1922, told local TV station WGHP-TV that Griffith and his father made many trips to the Mayberry Trading Post. Griffith incorporated several community places and names from his childhood home into the show. The term "Mayberry" is mentioned many times in television shows such as Cheers, House, M.D., Criminal Minds, Supernatural, How I Met Your Mother, and Scrubs. According to the episode "The Battle of Mayberry", the town was almost named Taylortown in honor of Colonel Carleton Taylor, who was one of the first settlers in the town. There actually is a Taylortown in North Carolina, but it has nothing to do with the fictional town of Mayberry or the show.
Mayberry had one traffic light and little in the way of indigenous crime with the exception perhaps of moonshining and bootlegging. Out-of-town bank robbers, scam artists, escaped convicts, and vagrants occasionally found their way to Mayberry. The county and the town share the same name and jurisdiction. In episode 44 "Sheriff Barney", the mayor of nearby Greendale relates that Mayberry County has had the lowest crime rate in the state for two years in a row under Sheriff Taylor. The town only had one long-distance telephone line, as referenced in the episode "Man in a Hurry", that two old ladies shared each Sunday preventing others from using the telephone.
In the opening scene of season 8, episode 30 (the last episode), a sign at the railroad station lists the population and elevation of Mayberry:
- Population: 5,360
- Elevation: 671
However, this conflicts with the comment made by choir director John Masters to Andy Taylor, that "there's got to be a decent tenor in a town of two-thousand people" in the episode The Song Festers - season 4, episode 20. And, in season 7, episode 23 ("The Statue"), Howard Sprague refers to a population of 1,800.
Andy does his part for the Mayberry town band. Barney and Gomer are not sure he's helping the cause.
- Ralph Barton (Charles Lampkin), a friend of Sam Jones (RFD)
- Ernest T. Bass (Howard Morris), a bothersome troublemaker fond of throwing rocks through windows
- Emma Brand (Cheerio Meredith), serial jaywalker and hypochondriac
- Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman), fix-it shop owner
- Otis Campbell (Hal Smith), town drunk and a descendant of a Revolutionary War hero
- Rita Campbell (Dorothy Neumann), Otis Campbell's wife
- Old Man Crowley (Burt Mustin)
- Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut), a Kansas transplant, Opie's teacher and Andy's girlfriend (later appearing as his wife in Mayberry R.F.D. spinoff series)
- The Darlings (Denver Pyle as Briscoe Darling Jr., Maggie Peterson as Charlene Darling and The Dillards as the Darling Boys), a hillbilly family who play bluegrass music with Andy in several episodes
- Clara Edwards (Hope Summers), Aunt Bee's best friend (also called Clara Johnson or Bertha Edwards in early episodes)
- Warren Ferguson (Jack Burns), a Boston transplant, replacement deputy (even more inept than Fife)
- Barney Fife (Don Knotts), Andy's lifelong friend (originally portrayed as his cousin in the pilot episode and through the first season) deputy sheriff, later a detective with the Raleigh, North Carolina Police Department
- Charlie Foley (Frank Ferguson), grocer
- Harold Grigsby (Kelly Thordsen), owns the saw mill
- Orville Hendricks (Woodrow Chambliss), butter and egg man from Mount Pilot
- Evan Hendricks (Bobby Diamond), wild-driving son of Orville, known to break an egg or two
- Cy Hudgins (Forrest Lewis), Local farmer, owns a goat named Jimmy that eats almost anything
- Mike Jones (Buddy Foster), son of Sam Jones (RFD)
- Sam Jones (Ken Berry), farmer (RFD) and single parent and widower like Andy, head of the town council of Mayberry in Mayberry R.F.D. spin-off series
- Juanita Beasley, a waitress at the Bluebird Diner, who is never seen (flirts with Barney over the phone), though originally the character named Juanita was portrayed as the Mayor's daughter in season one.
- Floyd Lawson (Howard McNear), barber at Floyd's Barber Shop
- Jim Lindsey (James Best), a talented guitarist who joins Bobby Fleet and His Band with a Beat
- Leon (Clint Howard), a toddler in a cowboy outfit who wanders the streets of Mayberry
- John Masters (Olan Soule), hotel clerk and director of the town's singing choir.
- Bert Miller (Sterling Holloway), peddler
- Orville Monroe (Jonathan Hole), undertaker
- Mayor Pike (Dick Elliott) mayor in first two seasons of show (1960-61)
- Goober Pyle (George Lindsey), auto mechanic at Wally's Garage and Gas Station (later service station owner)
- Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors), service station attendant at Wally's Garage for three seasons (1962-64) (left Mayberry to join the Marine Corps in Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. spin-off series)
- Sarah, the often spoken to, but never seen, telephone operator
- Skippy (Joyce Jameson) and Daphne (Jean Carson), the Fun Girls
- Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson), county clerk
- Roy Stoner (Parley Baer), mayor of Mayberry for three seasons (1962-64), replacing Mayor Pike
- Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka), bakery clerk (RFD)
- Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), sheriff and widowed father
- Beatrice Taylor (Frances Bavier), Andy's aunt, known as Aunt Bee
- Opie Taylor (Ronny Howard), Andy's son
- Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn), Barney's sweetheart, occupation unknown
- Ellie Walker (Elinor Donahue), pharmacist and one-time love interest of Andy
- Ben Weaver (Will Wright), the flint-hearted store owner and landlord
- Mrs. Wiley (Doris Packer), genealogy researcher, called Ernest T. Bass "a creature"
- Wally (Norman Leavitt, Trevor Bardette, Cliff Norton, and Blackie Hunt), owner and principal mechanic of Wally's Filling Station. No last name is ever given for Wally.
- Lydia Crosswaith (Josie Lloyd), an attempted arranged date with Andy and a romantic interest of Goober Pyle
- Henry Bennett (John Qualen), accused of being a jinx
- Sandy (Sherman Sanders), a square dance caller
- Sam (Sherwood Keith), appeared in three 1962 episodes
- Merle (Sherwood Keith), town councilman in one 1962 episode
- Art Crowley (Frank Warren), the grocer
- Flip Conroy (Rockne Tarkington), the school African-American football coach in one 1967 episode
- Asa Breeney (Charles P. Thompson), security guard
Archetypal small town
Many assume Mayberry was loosely based on Andy Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina, but actually, Griffith has indicated that nearby Pilot Mountain, also in Surry County, North Carolina, inspired him in creating the town. Pilot Mountain likely was the inspiration for the fictional town of "Mount Pilot", a nearby larger town in relation to Mayberry, often referred to and occasionally visited by the characters in The Andy Griffith Show. The county seat of Surry County is in Dobson; thus, this is the location of the nearest courthouse to Mount Airy. One episode has a fictional nearby location - "Pierce County". Another episode has Barney Fife referring to Sheriff Taylor and himself as "the law west of Mount Pilot".
Other place names used in the show refer to actual places in North Carolina, such as Raleigh--which was also often called "Capital City" - Siler City, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill, Stokes County, Elm City and Charlotte. One of the stars of the show, Frances Bavier (who played Aunt Bee) retired to Siler City in real life. In episode 249 "A Girl For Goober", the towns of Manteo and Toast are mentioned. Andy Griffith owned a home in Manteo (on North Carolina's Atlantic coast), and Toast is about two miles outside of Mt. Airy in Surry County. Stokes County, which borders Surry County to the east, is mentioned as the location of Myers Lake in episode 140 "Andy And Helen Have Their Day". In episode 62 "Cousin Virgil", the bus picks up Barney's cousin in Currituck. A Currituck County is located in eastern North Carolina. In episode 17 "Alcohol And Old Lace" while looking for moonshine stills, Barney suggests looking into Fancy Gap, Virginia, a town just across the state line from Mt. Airy. In episode 60 "Bookie Barber", Aunt Bee states that Floyd's Barber Shop has received phone calls from as far away as Morehead City. In episode 136 "Opie's Fortune", a man from Bannertown lost $50. Bannertown is a few miles from Mt. Airy in Surry County. In episode 68 "Barney Mends a Broken Heart", the towns of Harnett and Yancey are mentioned. Both a Harnett County and a Yancey County are in North Carolina. In episode 3 "The Guitar Player" played by James Best, who later played Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard, Best's character Jim Lindsey buys his guitar picks in Winston-Salem, which is actually the nearest big city to Mount Airy (37 miles).
Origins and expansion
Mayberry originated in an episode of The Danny Thomas Show and was the setting for The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry RFD, and the 1986 reunion movie Return to Mayberry. Although the county seat of an agricultural county, black people were sometimes seen in the original series, but more often seen on RFD.
Mayberry is the name of a real community in Patrick County, Virginia; located 22 miles northeast of Andy Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. The Mayberry Trading Post, home of the Mayberry, Virginia post office until it closed in 1922, told local TV station WGHP-TV that Griffith and his father made many trips to the Mayberry Trading Post.
- The Mayberry Courthouse was where Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife maintained law and order. It also contained the county jail--two cells, a back room, and the mayor's office upstairs. No inside stairs are seen, although there is an outside fire escape. Aside from Andy Taylor's home, this was the main setting for The Andy Griffith Show.
- Mayberry Savings Bank, the town's only bank, was often subject to robberies. It contains a large vault, and its only security guard is a senile man named Asa, who is constantly sleeping and whose fall-apart dilapidated gun is filled with moldy bullets. An interesting plot hole about the vault: in one episode, the vault combination was lost so an extra door was put in the vault. But in another episode, Barney Fife gets himself locked in the safe and only escapes by breaking the wall between the vault and the next-door beauty parlor.
- U.S. Post Office - the town's only post office
- Mayberry Union High School - the high school from which Andy and Barney graduated in 1948. In the episode "The Return of Barney Fife", which originally aired 01/10/1966, Barney and Andy attend their high school reunion. Behind the small orchestra playing during the dance hangs a banner that reads "Welcome Class of '48". However, in the episode "Class Reunion", which originally aired 02/04/1963 Andy and Barney organize a class reunion in which the banner reads "Class of '45".
- Taylor House is a humble, yet handsome, two-story frame house at 332 Maple Road (though once noted by Barney to be on Elm St.), a short walk from the courthouse. Notable features include a front porch perfect for conversation and guitar playing, a back porch with an extra refrigerator, and a living room with a high ceiling and rough-hewn (rusticated ashlar) stone fireplace.
- Mrs. Mendalbright's Rooming House - Barney Fife boards upstairs and his landlady is Mrs. Mendalbright.
- Thelma Lou's House - the home of Thelma Lou, Barney's girlfriend
- Helen Crump's House - the home of Helen Crump, Andy's girlfriend and Opie's teacher
- Mrs. Wiley's House - the home of Mrs. Wiley, which is frequently subject to parties, two of which were crashed by Ernest T. Bass
- The Rimshaw House - the "haunted" house of the deceased Old Man Rimshaw where Otis Campbell and Big Jack Anderson were running a still
- The Grand Theatre - The movie theater where Andy and Barney often took their girlfriends (Helen Crump and Thelma Lou, respectively) on dates
- Walker's Drug Store - This was the town drug store and soda shop owned by Fred Walker. His niece Ellie (Elinor Donahue), also a pharmacist, worked there for a while and was Andy's first girlfriend on the show. In the early episodes, characters often talked about "going to Walker's for an ice cream soda."
- Floyd's Barber Shop - Run by the scatterbrained Floyd Lawson, it was the main center of action in Mayberry. On any given day, it was not unusual to see many of the town's important figures, including the mayor and the sheriff, gathered here.
- Foley's Grocery - Run by Mr. Foley, it was where Aunt Bee and her friends shopped.
- Emmett's Fix-it Shop - handyman Emmett Clark's business replaced Floyd's when Howard McNear left the show.
- Weaver's Department Store - run by the miserly Ben Weaver
- Wally's Filling Station - The town's only known gas station, it employed cousins Gomer and Goober Pyle. It also served as the town's auto repair garage.
Places to eat
- Bluebird Diner - This was the restaurant where Barney was often seen calling to talk to his secret love, the enigmatic waitress "Juanita". A man named Frank owns the diner. It is located on the outskirts of Mayberry, near Myer's Lake. Mount Airy has a family-owned restaurant called the Bluebird Diner.
- Snappy Lunch - a Mayberry diner named after a real eatery that still serves lunch in Mount Airy, North Carolina
- Mayberry Hotel - Where out-of-towners often stayed, the Mayberry Hotel was also where choir director John Masters was employed.
- Myer's Lake - As seen in the opening credits of The Andy Griffith Show, it was the place Andy and Opie Taylor went fishing, and where Barney often drove with Thelma Lou for their "romantic getaways". The fictional lake was mentioned on the show as being located in Stokes County, North Carolina. Stokes County is a real county next to Surry County where Andy Griffith was born and raised. Franklin Canyon Park was used for filming.
In popular culture
Due to the success and fame of the television show, "Mayberry" has been used as a term for both idyllic small-town life and for rural simplicity (for both good and ill).
In a song by Rascal Flatts titled "Mayberry", the town is mentioned: "Well I miss Mayberry sitting on the porch drinking ice cold Cherry Coke where everything is black and white."
In the song called "Grandpa's Interview" on the Neil Young album Greendale: "Shows with love and affection, Like mama used to say, A little Mayberry livin', Can go a long way."