Friday, April 23, 2010

Mayberry - Back to another time: Mount Airy, NC

Roger here...

All of us have had tunes that replay themselves in our minds, even when we want them to stop. They are usually stupid jingles or "not-so-great" songs from our youth. During the last few days I have been hearing the whistled theme song from the Andy Griffith Show, AND honestly, I am kind of enjoying it.

We are spending three nights in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, the hometown of Andy Griffith -- In case you did not know it. This is really the true MAYBERRY, in almost every detail. I convinced Dianne that this might be fun - though a little corny - and she agreed. However, the bottom line is, it's not really that corny.

The campground is called (what else) the Mayberry Campground. It's really pretty nice with terraced gravel sites that overlook the Blue Ridge Mountains and what I choose to believe as Opie and Andy's fishin' pond. Oh yes, we can also see and hear I-74. Nonetheless, we really like it here.

Back to Mayberry (Mt. Airy).... what a quaint, friendly and unique place! We started our visit with a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs at Barney's Cafe. Barney's place has not been updated (other than the cut-out of Barney and the great Mayberry pencil drawings on the walls). We were so lucky to run into Barney and Thelma Lou before we moved on. Doesn't Thelma Lou look great?

We snapped a picture of the Mayberry patrol car, as well as some other vintage cars, that were parked along Main Street. (Most Saturday afternoons vintage car enthusiasts line up to show off their cars.)

We next stopped at the visitor's center that anchors the vintage town clock. The very nice lady there greeted us as we entered and told us about all the "wonders" (that she was so proud of) of Mt. Airy. This was our first introduction to the genuinely friendly people here. Because of the people, among other things, this is a special place.

We wandered down Main Street and encountered a live blue grass band outside the movie house. Dianne recorded a video of a snippet of their performance. It was so cool. Check it out:

Even better was the elderly southern gentleman who approached us while we listened, to strike up a conversation. (This seems to be the norm here and we like it.) When he found out that we were from Indiana, he told us about the nostalgic days that he had at Ft. Benjamin Harrison when he was in the service. (Dianne here: He thought he was going north to a nice, mild summer. He said he soon discovered that Indiana summers were more hot and humid than here in Mount Airy! Must be the elevation here....)
What a warm and welcoming feeling. (If the shop keepers were any more friendly and welcoming, we'd be making plans to come back to spend Christmas dinner with them! They seemed genuinely glad to have us visit their shops. -- D.)

Further down and across the street, we encountered the Snappy Lunch (famous for its pork chop sandwiches, and mentioned in the Andy Griffith Show). We were still too full from breakfast, but it was fun to see it. (They close mid-afternoon, so go early if you want to eat lunch there -- D.)

Next door was Floyd's Barbershop. THE REAL FLOYD'S BARBERSHOP! The owner (Russell) has cut hair there for 60 years - including Andy's. How cool? I did not get a haircut, but did get a shot of the barber's chair. Russell wasn't there when we stopped by, but if you visit when he's there, you can get your picture taken with him while sitting in the barber chair. The walls are covered with photos of visitors from over the years.

A short way down the street we encountered Opie's Candy Store. OK, it really does not belong to Opie, but it is FULL of the candy that I remember from my local Indiana dime store - chocolate stars, lemon drops, carbonated beverages, licorice - yada yada yada. You could buy candy in a paper bag (mix and match) by the pound. Dianne (the sugar queen / aka the pyro queen) was in heaven.
We also visited the Andy Griffith museum and the regional museum in Mount Airy. The "jail" was closed (on Saturday?) so we couldn't take our pictures in Otis' jail cell, as other tourists have done. We did drive by the small house that Andy Griffith and his family lived in while he was growing up in Mount Airy. It is now rented out as a bed and breakfast.

We ended up spending more time in town than we expected to, and having a lot of fun while there. It was threatening rain, so we made our way back to the public parking lot and the short drive back to Mayberry Campground.

This area is also known for its lovely local wineries. Check back soon for our blog about our day wine tasting our way around the Yadkin Valley.


Margie said...

Did you see our photos on the wall at the barber shop??? Roger got his hair cut there. We went during Mayberry Days in September. We were invited to ride in a police car to Wally's Garage. Great town - friendly people.

Guess you had too much wine sampling and couldn't post about your winery visits yet, ha ha.

Mike and Michele Utt said...

Glad ya'll had a good time in Mt.Airy, NC. We've lived here all our lives and remember Main Street for being the place to shop, (no Malls back then). Now that I'm 50 I look at our town as a nice place to live and can't believe the number of people that comes through here. Hope you come back soon and maybe we'll cross paths some where while out camping.