True story. James Slate, whom I met once on the main drag in Mount Airy, liked to dress up as Otis, the town-drunk character on the old “Andy Griffith Show.” Slate struck me as a nice and sincere man who liked to entertain tourists in front of his son’s Mayberry-themed store downtown.
I regret to read that Slate was working on the carburetor of a Mayberry squad-car replica. You can’t make this stuff up.
The story, reported by the Mount Airy newspaper, reminded me of season 4 “Andy Griffith” episode No. 19, “Hot Rod Otis,” in which Otis buys a car to the consternation of Andy and Barney.
Unfortunately, as Slate tinkered with the squad car, according to the newspaper, the carburetor caught fire and burned him bad enough that he had to go to Winston for treatment that included skin grafts.
I’m sorry to hear of Slate’s accident and wish him a full recovery. I hope he’ll return to the streets of Mount Airy as Otis.
But I couldn’t help thinking about a potential episode of the “Griffith” show: an impaired Otis tampers with the squad car with comical results (no fires, of course).
For 55 years now folks just can’t get enough of “The Andy Griffith Show.” Reruns are as popular as ever. And there are all kinds of spinoffs. For instance, a Charlotte car dealership is drawing on the show’s popularity by airing comedy radio ads with actors spoofing Andy and Barney shopping for a new car.
So it might be time to revisit what other new episodes of “Griffith” can we come up with here in the 21st Century. Here’s what I offer:
Junior Johnstone (wink, wink) from over in the next county is running some moonshine down to Winston when Barney stops him in a license check.
“License and registration,” a strutting Barney tells a nervous Johnstone. “What’ve you got in them jars,” Barney asks while pointing to some filled Mason jars in the shotgun seat.
Johnstone tells a naive Barney that it’s cough syrup. Opie’s at home with a bad chest cold, and Barney insists on buying a jar.
“I’ve never seen clear cough syrup,” Barney observes. Johnstone smugly says that they haven’t put in the coloring yet.
Barney rushes to Andy’s house and tells Aunt Bea that he’s brought Opie some new, miracle medicine. “This’ll have the lil’ fellow up in a jiffy,” Barney tells Bea.
By the time Andy gets home that evening for a bedtime story, Opie’s acting like Otis.
One of the better “Griffith” episodes was the “The Pickle Story,” season 2, episode 11, about Aunt Bea’s kerosine cucumbers, i.e. homemade pickles that Andy, Barney and Opie must get rid of.
This time Aunt Bea enlists Andy, Barney and Gomer to paint her kitchen. Gomer gets the paint and rushes to the house to show Andy.
“This is pink, Andy. This is real pink,” Gomer says. “It’s hurrible, just hurrible.”
“Looks like Pepto Bismol,” Barney adds in a high-pitch tone and a snort.
The boys can’t talk Aunt Bea out of the pink paint. But as she checks on their progress the look on her face betrays her growing realization that she’s made a bad mistake.
Bea asks Clara on the phone: “What can I do? The boys have worked so hard and I just can’t tell them.”
So Clara paints her kitchen a fine off-white and Bea feigns jealousy. Andy pleads with Barney and Gomer to repaint.
“I know, I know,” Andy says. “But Aunt Bea’s got her heart set on Clara’s off-white.”
“Aw, I don’t mind, Andy,” Gomer reasons. “Anything to get the Pepto Bismol off your wall.”
Andy gets a phone call. Aunt Bea’s frantic. Her church group was returning from an outing to Stone Mountain when the van broke down.
“Come and get me, Andy.” Bea pleads.
“Weeell, Aunt Bea, where are you?” Andy asks.
“Wellll, Aunt Bea, which state road?
“That it. State Road.”
“Now, Aunt Bea, I’ll be glad to come and get you. But which state road? Is it 268 or 89 or …”
“Just State Road.”
“But Aunt Bea, you’ve got to tell me which state road.”
“Oh, never mind. I’ll thumb a ride over to Jot-Um-Down and you can pick me up there.”
“Aunt Bea, have you been into Opie’s cough syrup?”
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.
Back In The Hometown