Ron Howard & Francis Bavier… Pinehurst, NC 1988
AKA: “Opie” and “Aunt Bea”
In the 1960’s “The Andy Griffith” show dominated the TV scene and re-runs are still popular today. “Aunt Bea” was portrayed as a sweet elderly lady who loved nothing more than providing her two men (“Andy” and “Opie”) with her home baked goodies.
It is interesting to note that, in 1972, Frances Bavier (“Aunt Bea“ from the show) retired and bought a home in Siler City, NC ... a rural area that closely resembled the fictitious town of Mayberry portrayed in the TV series.
In 1978 our family moved to North Carolina and I got a job as a secretary in the ER of the large hospital in Pinehurst, NC, fairly close to Siler City. About 10 years later “Aunt Bea” suffered some medical problems that were serious enough to have her hospitalized and she spent 6 days in our facility. I never saw her but the scuttlebutt had it that she was a difficult and demanding patient. This was no surprise since I’d often read that her co-workers thought of her in the same way.
The one member of the cast who seemed to be able to placate her was Ron Howard (“Opie”). Rumor had it that he was in the Pinehurst area to see her and, sure enough, he showed up at the front desk of the ER asking for her room number. (Of course we were thrilled to give him the info and didn’t tell him he’d come in the wrong entrance!)
One of the secretaries asked him for an autograph and he promised to bring in a stock photo with his signature the next day ... which he did. He was just there for those two days but the nurses on “Aunt Bea’s” floor reported that his visit was a great boon for them. He was able to calm her down and she became a much more pliant patient.
Looking back on this memory I can’t help but see the irony of it. Here was “little Opie” turning the table on his old “Aunt Bea”. It was his turn to dish out just what she needed ... common sense and a big helping of love.