This Telephone Directory Is From Andy Griffith’s Real Hometown
Andy Griffith was a young boy when he dreamt of joining a swing band and saved up for nearly six months to buy a trombone. His high school didn’t have a band, but his church did, and a pastor offered him free lessons if he rode his bike two miles with the trombone every week to church. This moment in Mount Airy changed everything for Andy, and he became a “little somebody then,” as he later recalled.
Andy Griffith eventually became a giant somebody as the star of his own show, The Andy Griffith Show, which remains one of the most popular TV shows ever aired. The town of Mayberry, where the show is set, is known to be loosely based on Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy. Although Mount Airy is the inspiration for Mayberry, it’s rare to see a reference to the town in an actual episode of The Andy Griffith Show.
However, there is a tiny piece of Mount Airy that Griffith brought with him to Mayberry, and it’s visible in the fourth season episode “A Black Day for Mayberry.” In the opening scene of the episode, Barney Fife, the deputy sheriff, picks up a telephone directory from Andy’s desk. If you look closely, it’s not a phonebook for fictional Mayberry, but rather one for Mount Airy, with the town’s name clearly visible on the cover. It’s likely that this was Andy’s actual copy of his hometown phonebook, well-worn from use.
Today, a statue of Andy Griffith stands in Mount Airy, in front of the Andy Griffith Playhouse. The town has a thriving tourist industry, with 95% of the $80 million spent in the county rooted in businesses in Mount Airy. Griffith’s relationship with his hometown was complicated, as he felt bullied for his family’s poverty as a boy. However, he took pride in the impact he had on the town and its people, and his legacy is still felt in Mount Airy today.
Despite his complicated feelings about his hometown, Griffith was fiercely protective of Mount Airy and its place in his life. When a statue of Don Knotts, his co-star on The Andy Griffith Show, was proposed for Mount Airy, Griffith objected, saying that it belonged in Morgantown, Knotts’ hometown. For Griffith, Mount Airy was his home, and he wanted to honor that connection.
Griffith’s story is a reminder that our hometowns can have a profound impact on who we become and what we achieve. For Griffith, his humble beginnings in Mount Airy were the foundation for a remarkable career and a lasting legacy. Despite the challenges he faced growing up, he remained connected to his hometown and took pride in the impact he had there.
The lesson we can learn from Andy Griffith is that we should never forget where we come from and the people who helped us get where we are today. No matter how far we travel in life, our roots will always be a part of us. It’s important to honor and celebrate that connection, just as Andy Griffith did with his beloved Mount Airy.