An Evening in Mayberry (RFD)

It was a rare evening when I finished up business, and had a little time before I could sneak in and watch the “This Week in the NFL” show, which didn’t start until 9:00, so I turned the TV on to the channel which carries the old television shows. Since I don’t watch network television, except for sports, I am thankful we get a channel which features the old family shows.

I don’t watch network television, for the simple reason, “Have you seen network television?”
I know that sounds like an “all-inclusive” statement, which we’re not supposed to make. Pretty much the only exposure I get to network television is on the promos during commercial breaks during football games, and that’s enough to turn me away. I’m sure there may be some “good” shows out there, being made today, but they must not advertise them.

Anyway, the show that was on this particular evening was “Mayberry RFD.” They play two episodes, back-to-back, and I joined the first show half-way in. The story was centered on the town raising money to replace the church bell. So, scenes inside the church were part of the show. One of the final scenes showed the congregation (with all the cast in attendance) singing a hymn … a song which included the name “Jesus” … on television, a network show featuring the entire cast singing a song in praise of Jesus … A popular show at the time, I might add … and, still popular today … Did I mention the plot was centered on the importance of a church to our community … and the entire cast was seen, in church, singing a song in praise of Jesus? This show, “The Church Bell,” first aired 3-24-69.

It was like I was transported back in time, to a place and time far, far away … and, long, long ago …
I thought about how things have changed, and, perhaps, just maybe, how the shows of that time reflected our society … Does this mean that the shows on TV today reflect our society?

Anyway … back to Mayberry RFD … I thought, “That’s nice,” but, maybe this was just a rare show in the series … I sat in my chair and watched the second episode begin …
This show was about a city in Mexico, Porto Bello, which was to be a “sister-city” to Mayberry. So, the town of Mayberry had to come up with a special welcome gift to give the visiting delegation from Porto Bello. Aunt Bee (Yes!!! Aunt Bee!!!) had crafted a hand-stitched, framed gift which said, “God Bless Porto Bello.” The show, “Sister Cities,” first aired 5-12-69.

I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed just watching a television program. Watching Ken Berry, Goober, Aunt Bee, Howard Sprague, and Emmett. We love Ken Berry … he just seems like such a nice guy … have admired his work for years, including shows like “F-Troop” and “Mama’s Family” … He was also a cast member of the “Dr. Kildare” show … Mr. Barry is now 81 years old …

All of us remember certain television shows from when we were growing up. For instance, I never forgot an episode of “The Waltons” which featured Ron Howard as a family friend who was diagnosed with leukemia … a show called “The Gift,” which I was able to purchase at Wal-Mart, and have seen many times … I also never forgot an episode of “Mayberry RFD” in which Goober was lost in a cave … what I remember most from that episode, which I hadn’t seen since it first aired on March 15, 1971, was Goober, alone and lost in the cave, and his lamp going out … In total darkness, here’s what we heard: “Now I lay me down to sleep …” It was the sound of Goober praying. Well, I got to watch that episode last week …

It suddenly strikes me now that, in Mayberry RFD, as far as I can remember, “Opie” did not make an appearance, but Andy did (more on this later) … yet, Ron Howard will be forever etched in my memory as another character other than “Opie,” and then … well, there was “Richie Cunningham” … (OK, so we love “Happy Days”, too!) …

All this has really gotten me thinking about the past, and as usual … how things have changed … Is it just me, or does it seem like every time we think about how things have changed … how things aren’t the way they used to be … how things are “different now” … Why is it that we are usually referring to the fact that things aren’t “as good” as they used to be … that things have changed-for the worse? Aren’t things “supposed to improve with time …?” Or, maybe that is just wine … which should give another, clear understanding of how we look at the past, and how, over time, things seem to work in reverse … not “move forward,” as we are led to believe.

Anyway, I got the chance to watch another episode of “Mayberry RFD” a couple of weeks later (remember that “This Week in the NFL” is a weekly show), and, guess what?
The episode featured the return of Andy Taylor to Mayberry … with his wife, Helen … and their new baby!!! You remember the show about the “Four Godfathers?” The plot was that Andy and Helen came back to Mayberry … in order to go to church … in order to christen their new baby …

I am not making this up: Each time I was exposed to this classic television program, it seemed that the plot, the theme of the episode, revolved around church, and the importance of “church” to the community. Just so you’ll know, I haven’t watched it since, but, just from the few episodes, at random, I watched, it made me think about many things:

First, allow me to offer this: I get tired of people who will speak of those old family shows, and say things like, “That’s just fake,” or “That’s just made up,” or, “That’s not the way it really was.”
As I ponder these opinions, I think that it may have more to do with “That’s not the way it is now,” or, sadly, “That’s not the way it was at my house. That’s not the way it was for me.”

Yes, I realize that it was not “that way” for many families back then … and, now. However, the reason I was called to write this was because that was “the way it was” in my family, for families I knew when I was growing up … we were raised with morals, and family values, and the shows we watched echoed, or, more importantly, cemented that. When we watched these “family shows,” … ready for this … we watched them as a family … We didn’t think these families were strange or made up, because the values the shows sought to teach us were already a part of our upbringing … the fact that “church” was a large part of our lives did not seem strange to us … because “church” was a large part of our lives. The morals and family values which those shows represented were already a part of our lives, so, seeing this “played out” on the television screen was not something we thought of as “different” or “fake” or “made up.” Church and morals and values were part of our very existence, our everyday life. Period. We loved the shows because it mirrored what we lived … what we believed … and … ready for this … what we were taught at home …

When “Olivia Walton” (Mama) ran off to be alone, in a room by herself, and opened the Bible, read a passage, and, in agony, cried out … it wasn’t “fake” or “strange” to us … because it was real to us … it was what happened in our home … in our lives … the portrayal on screen may have been from a time which was years and years ago, but, what she did … what she believed … what she acted out on screen … was “natural” to us … because, that’s what my Mama did … and, what a lot of other “Mamas” did … in real life. It wasn’t fiction to us: We loved these shows because it portrayed, in a theatrical sense, our home life. It really did. We “bought in” to these shows because, to us, they were real.
Do I really need to follow up that “real” sentence with a reference to “real” shows, or, I think they call them “reality shows” today?

Back when the show “Dallas” was popular (remember “Southfork?”), the show was number one in the world. This was at the beginning of when U.S. television, because of satellites, etc., became viewed world-wide. I remember reading that “Dallas” was the Number 1 television program in the entire world. And, that, people in these foreign countries, who had never been to the United States, based their opinion of the United States, and Americans in general, on what they saw on this particular television program.
Has this changed?
Do our “present” television programs reflect our present society?
Do our “present” television programs reflect our present society do the world?
How could they not?

Here goes: When I watched those, what are now, “old shows,” they were like watching family. Because, that’s what my family, and the values and morals they portrayed, lived and taught. That’s the way it was, in my family, and my community.
What about now? Do the television shows reflect the values, morals, and community in which I live?
Do people, around the world, “find out about” how we are, as a society, by our television shows?
If television reflects us, how does that reflection appear around the world?
If TV reflections our society …
Look at TV from years ago …
Look at TV now …
Look at how the United States was viewed (and revered) long ago …
Look at how the United States is viewed, around the world, now …

Shall we hope that the world doesn’t watch TV …?
Except for METV … ?

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
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