Andy Griffith: A tribute

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Media outlets are reporting that the great Andy Griffith has died.

Griffith is, of course, best known for the role of Sheriff Andy Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show” — a series that stands the test of time as a truly great show (the early, black and white episodes, at least).

Watching it today, the show can still make you cry or laugh out loud. And the good news is you can now stream the episodes on Netflix (during Christmas last year, my family and I watched this classic one.)

In recent years, Griffith became an outspoken proponent of ObamaCare, but I hope conservatives don’t allow that to in any way stain his legacy (and I hope liberals don’t exploit the timing of his death).

Personally, I try not to let politics ruin entertainment. Even still — the top notch quality of the show aside — there is much for conservatives to like. A recurring theme was how common sense and local control works better than bureaucracy or top-down management.

There were other important values taught as well. Consider an episode from season 4, titled, “Opie and his Merry Men.” In the episode, Andy’s son, Opie (Ron Howard), befriends a hobo (this happened at least twice during the show’s run), who convinces him it’s okay to “steal from the rich and give to the poor.”

After learning his son is picking up some bad habits from this new “friend,” and had stolen an apple pie, Andy tells Opie: “Folks [that are] too old or too sick to take care of themselves, and need help, we give it to them. But an able-bodied man like this friend of yours … he don’t want charity — not if he’s honest. All he wants is a chance to work and make a living.”

Opie then explains that the hobo isn’t really able-bodied — that he got hurt saving a baby from a train. Incredulous, Andy brings Opie and his friends to the hobo’s shack, where he offers to find the vagabond a place to live — and a job that won’t hurt his leg. Rather than work, the hobo runs off into the woods, thus teaching Opie and his friends a valuable lesson. It was just one of the many lessons Sheriff Taylor would teach us over the years.

“The Andy Griffith Show” goes down in history as one of the best TV shows of all time. It was funny and heart-warming. You can watch it with your kids, but adults find it entertaining (random trivia: Lee Atwater was a huge fan).

In my mind, the show will be forever linked to memories of my own dad, who introduced me to the show — and who loved it, himself. We lost dad a few years back, and now comes another sign that the world is moving on.

We will miss Andy Griffith.

Matt K. Lewis