“Aunt Bee” and “Opie” in Pinehurst, NC 1988
From 1960 to 1968 “The Andy Griffith” show dominated the TV scene. Who can forget the hilarious antics of Sheriff Andy Taylor and his deputy Barney Fife? How many of us felt like we were sitting in Aunt Bee’s kitchen as she dished out apple pie and common sense to little Opie? And what about poor Otis, the town drunk? We knew he’d always have a warm cell where he could “sleep it off.”
The show was set in the fictitious town of Mayberry, NC and it is interesting to note that “Aunt Bee”, Frances Bavier, bought a home in the small town of Siler City, North Carolina, in 1972. This rural area and it’s people, in that day, were very reminiscent of Mayberry. Frances was to live there until her death in 1989.
In 1988 “Aunt Bee” suffered some medical problems that were serious enough to have her hospitalized for about 6 days, and the hospital that she chose was the one I worked in, Moore Regional Hosp. in Pinehurst, NC. I never saw her but I did hear that she was a difficult and demanding patient. This was no surprise since I had read that her co-workers thought of her in the same way.
The one member of the cast who seemed to be able to get along with her was Ron Howard, (“Opie”). Rumor had it that he was in the Pinehurst area and, sure enough, he showed up one morning at our desk in the ER. Of course we didn’t tell him that he’d come in the wrong entrance !
One of the girls asked him for an autograph and he promised to bring in a stock photo with his signature the next day. He was as good as his word…so I actually saw him twice. I think he was just there for those two days but the nurses reported that his visit was a great boon for them. He was able to calm “Aunt Bee” and she became a much more pliant patient.
Looking back on this memory I can’t help but see the irony. Here was “little Opie” turning the tables on his old “Aunt Bee”. It was his turn to dish out just what she needed... common sense and a big helping of love.