There is a reason that The Andy Griffith Show, of the 1960s, remains in the list of Top Ten Classic TV Shows of All Time.
Sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith), his son Opie (Ron Howard), Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) and a host of others from Mayberry, North Carolina provided great life lessons with both humor and sometimes drama.
One notable episode focused in on the importance of parenting when outside influences come in to disrupt. It’s a wonderful lesson even today.
The episode, “Opies Hobo Friend,” aired on November 13, 1961:
🔹Deputy Barney remains determined to round up what he is convinced is a Chicago gang on the lam.
🔹A life lesson appears in learning how to tell good from bad.
🔹Andy makes certain that Opie learns that lesson.
🔹Earl Hagen’s evocative theme played on harmonica that captures the slowed-paced and seemingly innocence of small-town America just when the post-war 50s were giving way to the New Frontier of the 60s.
🔹Buddy Ebsen (the original Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz” 1939 movie, before he became ill from the silver body paint), played the guest star role as hobo David Browne. He is dressed just a shade better here than he is when “The Beverly Hillbillies” television program starts its run the following year.
Deputy Barney tells his boss, “Oh, Andy, everything’s breakin’ loose. First, Mrs. Tillman has an apple pie stolen from her window. Now, Jess Crawford just reported a chicken thief. It’s a regular reign of terror!”
David Browne, a hobo, appears in Mayberry and befriends Opie. It becomes obvious that Andy must put away the welcome mat when the likable drifter starts putting Artful Dodger-ish notions into Opie’s head.
David Browne: You know, I’ve grown awful fond of that young fellow. What’s wrong?
Andy Taylor: Well, there seems to be something wrong with his thinkin’. He’s gotten a little twisted on things lately, like bein’ able to tell the difference between right and wrong.
David Browne: Oh.
Andy Taylor: Not that that’s an easy thing. A lot of grownups still strugglin’ with that same problem, but ‘specially difficult for a youngster, ’cause things rub off on ’em so easy.
David Browne: Well, Sheriff, maybe I do look at things differently than other people. Is that wrong? I live by my wits. I’m not above bending the law now and then to keep clothes on my back or food in my stomach. I live the kind of life that other people would just love to live if they only had the courage. Who’s to say that the boy would be happier your way or mine? Why not let him decide?
Andy Taylor: Nah, I’m afraid it don’t work that way. You can’t let a young ‘un decide for himself. He’ll grab at the first flashy thing with shiny ribbons on it, then when he finds out there’s a hook in it, it’s too late. The wrong ideas come packaged with so much glitter it’s hard to convince him that other things might be better in the long run, and all a parent can do is say, “Wait. Trust me,” and try to keep temptation away.
Somehow, along the way, we have lost this basic truth. As parents, we must protect our children from harmful indoctrination and propaganda. Too many people are more concerned about being their child’s friend, than in being a parent.
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