The eBullet: Volume 14, Issue 5, September 2014

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The eBullet
An Online Newsletter of “The Andy Griffith Show” Rerun Watchers Club (TAGSRWC)
Volume 14, Issue 5
September 2014

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Welcome to our fifth issue of The eBullet for 2014!  A lot has been going on, and even more (including Mayberry Days!) is coming up.  Here’s the latest…

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 Floyd’s Barbershop Bulletin Board
&
Event Calendar

CHEERY GROUP AND A CHAIR–Russell Hiatt enjoys a visit with incognito friends Tim “Goober ” Pettigrew, Kenneth “Otis” Junkin and Allan “Floyd Jr.” Newsome when the trio popped in at his shop after breakfast next door at the Snappy Lunch in August. Photo Instagrammed by Allan.

CHEERY GROUP AND A CHAIR–Barbering legend Russell Hiatt enjoys a visit with incognito friends Tim “Goober ” Pettigrew, Kenneth “Otis” Junkin and Allan “Floyd Jr.” Newsome when the trio popped in at his shop after breakfast next door at the Snappy Lunch in August. Be sure to drop by and see Russell (who has officially retired from cutting hair, but is still cutting up with friends) at his Floyd’s City Barber Shop during Mayberry Days this month or whenever you’re in downtown Mount Airy. Photo Instagrammed by Allan.

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The Andy Griffith Museum, featuring the late Emmett Forrest’s amazing collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia, is open daily in Mount Airy, N.C. For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.

* Beginning Sept. 1: MeTV has started airing “The Andy Griffith Show” in markets that don’t already have TAGS available on local stations.  The local markets already with TAGS are instead getting “Mayberry R.F.D.” on MeTV. A definite win-win for Mayberry fans!

*Sept. 19: Betty Lynn is taking this Friday off from her usual Third Friday signings at the Andy Griffith Museum to rest up for greeting fans next week at Mayberry Days. That’s a good example for all of us making plans to attend the festival that’s chock-full of Mayberry activities from start to finish.

* Sept. 19: There will be lots of carrying on when David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning works security at the Carriage Travel Club Grand National Rally in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

* Sept. 21-24: Life Lessons From Mayberry: It’s All There in Black and White in Ridgecrest, N.C. (outside Asheville) is a Bible study event drawing on the biblical truths and life applications found in “The Andy Griffith Show.” The event is $295 per person (based on double occupancy), which includes three nights of on-campus lodging, eight meals, Bible study sessions based on favorite TAGS episodes, dynamic preaching, worship, an orchestra concert of TAGS tunes, and a lunch with favorite Mayberry tribute artists. To register, call Ridgecrest Conference Center at (800) 588-7222 or visit www.lifeway.com/mayberry.com.

Rodney Dillard

Rodney Dillard

* Sept. 25-28: 25th Annual Mayberry Days in Mount Airy, N.C.   As always, numerous “Andy Griffith Show” stars will be on hand, including hometown favorite Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) and Darling Boy Rodney Dillard and the Dillard Band (with special guest Maggie Peterson, aka Charlene Darling), who will perform a matinee show on Friday.  James Best also presents his popular “Best in Hollywood Show” on Friday afternoon, and Karen Knotts returns with her fun, wonderful “Tied Up in Knotts” show, at 12:30 p.m. on Friday.

Other special guests scheduled to return include Elizabeth MacRae (Betty Parker on TAGS and Lou Ann Poovie on “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”), Morgan Brittany (Mary Alice Carter), Jackie Joseph (“Romeena” Ankrum), Peggy McCay (Sharon DeSpain), George Spence (Frank the Boyfriend), Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey), and George Lindsey, Jr.

MaryWigginsAlso, Joy Ellison (Mary Wiggins, Effie Muggins, Mary Scobey, Betsy and Iris) is flying in from New Orleans (where she’s on location working as a dialect coach) to attend her first Mayberry Days (and her first Mayberry event of any kind since 2000)!  Joy will be the special guest for Neal Brower’s lecture (always a festival highlight) in conjunction with the TAGSRWC Annual Meeting on Saturday afternoon.

Other festival favorites include David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning, Allan “Floyd” Newsome and the merry Mayberry band of tribute artists; the VW Boys and their “Salute to Mayberry;” and Michael Hoover’s “Memories of Elvis.”

James Gregory

James Gregory

Also, there will be a hilarious comedy show on Friday night by the amazing James Gregory, “the Funniest Man in America.” And the Embers warm the night with their music on Thursday, while the legendary Tams bring their soulful coastal music to the amphitheater on Friday evening. There will be something for everybody at this special 25th Mayberry Days. Visit www.surryarts.org for more info, last-minute updates and tickets.

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* Oct. 3: 54th Anniversary of the premiere of “The Andy Griffith Show” on CBS.

"Ohhh, you get a line and I'll get a pole, honey!" "Honey."  "You get a line and I'll get a pole, babe!"

“Ohhh, you get a line and I’ll get a pole, honey!” “Honey.” “You get a line and I’ll get a pole, babe!”

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* Oct. 3: Dean Webb and Missouri Boatride perform for The Old Brush Arbor, at Keystone Baptist Church in Reeds Spring, Mo.

* Oct. 5: Karen Knotts brings her “Tied Up in Knotts” show to the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, Calif., at 2 p.m. For tickets and info, call 209-338-5071 or visit www.galloarts.org.

Betty Lynn signs a photo for TAGSRWC member Bruce Fisher at the Andy Griffith Museum in July. Photo by Hobart Jones.

Betty Lynn signs a photo for TAGSRWC member Bruce Fisher at the Andy Griffith Museum in July. Photo by Hobart Jones.

* Oct. 17: Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8×10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.

LeroyMackFlag* Oct. 19: LeRoy “Mack” McNees and wife Jan share their faith and bluegrass gospel music during the 11 a.m. worship service at the New Horizons Baptist Church in Oxford, N.C.

RonHowardGuilford* Oct. 23: “An Evening with Ron Howard” as part of the Bryan Series, hosted by Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. In a moderated conversation, Ron Howard will offer the Bryan Series reflections on his 50 years in the motion picture and television industry. He will discuss his journey from his role as Opie to his achievements as one of the most accomplished filmmakers of our time. Expect him to talk about the creative process and the significance of his films including Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon and others. The presentation starts at 7:30 at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster for about $59 (including fees & taxes), plus $7 per vehicle (“everybody on the truck!”) for parking  For more info, visit www.guilford.edu/bryan-series.

* Oct. 31- Nov. 2: Back to Mayberry Retreat at the Eagle Ridge Conference Center in Raymond, Miss.  A fund-raiser weekend of Christian fellowship and Mayberry fun and games in the heart of Mississippi.  For more info visit www.backtomayberryretreat.webs.com.

CarnvialVictory* Nov. 1-6: Cruise to Mayberry 9 stars LeRoy “Mack” McNees, George Lindsey, Jr. , and a passel of Mayberry tribute artists for music, sights, sun, fun, and games…and hearty eatin’ aboard Carnival’s Victory cruise ship, departing Miami for Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman.  For more info, contact Sharon at All About Cruises (336) 538-4926 or by e-mail at pwesje@aol.com or visit the website at www.allaboutcruisesnc.net.

* Nov. 5-10: David Mayberry Deputy” Browning joins the VW Boys and a boatload of down-home comedy, bluegrass and country music performers on the Acoustic Cruise sailing from Charleston, S.C., to the Caribbean. Info is at www.ExclusiveCruiseTravel.com, or call Kathy Kennedy at (877)288-7711.

* Dec. 5-7: Life Lessons From Mayberry Christmas in Ridgecrest, N.C. (outside Asheville) features special guest Margaret Kerry (“Bess” from “Christmas Story” and “Helen” from “Andy Forecloses”). This fun and inspirational weekend draws on the biblical truths and life applications found in TAGS. Guests are invited to bring 1960s attire or dress as a character for the Saturday night Christmas banquet. Adults: $195 per person (based on double occupancy), which includes two nights of on-campus lodging, six meals, Bible study sessions based on four favorite episodes, and preaching and worship. Kids 12 and up: $96 (when staying in parents’ room); kids under 12: $66 (when staying in parents’ room). To register, call Ridgecrest Conference Center at 800-588-7222 or visit www.ridgecrestconferencecenter.org/event/mayberrychristmas. Questions? E-mail: llfmevents@gmail.com.

2015

* Jan 9: Karen Knotts performs “Tied Up in Knotts at the Norris Center in Naples, Fla.  Show time is 7:30. For more info, call 239-213-3058 or visit www.naplesgov.com.

KarenKnottsGuitar* Jan. 11: Karen Knotts performs “Tied Up in Knotts at the Florissant Civic Center in Florissant, Mo., at 2:00 p.m. Admission is $28.00.  For more info or tickets, call (314) 921-5678 or visit www.florissantmo.com.

* Feb. 15: Karen Knotts performs “Tied Up in Knotts at the Howard Performing Arts Center on the campus of Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich. Show time is 7:30. For more info, call 888 467-6442 or visit www.howard.andrews.edu.

FilmFestLogo* Mar. 5-7: The 18th Annual George Lindsey UNA Film Festival in Florence, Ala. Details TBA.  For updates go to www.lindseyfilmfest.com.

Otis loves a fifth of anything!

Otis loves a fifth of anything!

* May 1 and 2: Fifth Annual Mayberry Comes to Westminster  festival in Westminster, S.C.  Details TBA. Photo highlights from 2014 at www.mayberrywestminster.com.

* May 15-17: Mayberry in the Midwest returns to Danville, Ind. Among the festival’s highlights are the parade, the Mayberry Squad Car Nationals, and performances by the Mayberry Tribute Artists. Guest stars and other details TBA.  For now, just mark your calendar.

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 **** News of Cast & Crew ****

In July, Ron Howard and his wife, Cheryl, sold their lakefront estate in Greenwich, Conn., where they have lived for 20 years and raised their four children.  We don’t know whether they had any help from Barney Fife, Realtor, but they got their asking price.

Ron and his Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer recently announced a deal for their company to produce (along with Scott Pascucci and Grammy winner Nigel Sinclair) and for Ron to direct a documentary about the touring years of The Beatles. “Imagine” that!  Fab for Ron…and for Beatles fans everywhere!  “What’s so compelling to me,” Ron told Rolling Stone, “is the perspective that we have now, the chance to really understand the impact that they had on the world.” Keep up with the project’s progress at www.thebeatlesliveproject.com.

Ron’s also still very involved in post-production for his next feature film release, In the Heart of the Sea, which will be in theaters next March.

Ron Howard tweeted this photo in August with daughter Bryce and son-in-law Seth at a screening of an early cut of Ron's In the Heart of the Sea.  Follow Ron on Twitter @RealRonHoward.

Ron Howard tweeted this photo in August with daughter Bryce and son-in-law Seth at a screening of an early cut of Ron’s In the Heart of the Sea. Follow Ron on Twitter @RealRonHoward.

And Ron begins directing Inferno, the latest movie adaptation in author Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code series) in April. The movie will again star Tom Hanks as lead character Robert Langston and is slated for release in theaters during the 2015 holiday season.

Also, Imagine Entertainment has signed to make a TV pilot based on Digital Fortress, the Dan Brown novel from 2003, for ABC-TV. There’s no word on whether Ron might be directing the pilot or any future episodes if a full series develops.

The Imagine duo of Howard and Glazer is also set to produce a new adaptation of East of Eden for the big screen.  Jennifer Lawrence has been announced as one of the stars. Meanwhile, Imagine in co-producing The Good Lie, a feature film starring Reese Witherspoon that will be hitting U.S. theaters in October.

Ron is also hoping to direct a film version of Neil Graiman’s best-selling The Graveyard Book. And he might direct or at least produce the film version of another best-selling book, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair for Warner Bros.

And that’s not all.  Ron has signed on as executive producer for a mini-series based on the Clan of the Cave Bear book series.  The series is expected to air on Lifetime next year.

And just last month, Ron took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Abbey Road in London.  Here’s the short video of Ron’s charitable dowsing.

Jim Nabors‘ Maui home and the “Big Island” home of TAGS associate producer Richard O. (Dick) Linke both were fine after the rare hurricanes that skirted Hawaii in early August. Dick will be 97 years old on October 23.

Betty and friends at the Andy Griffith Museum in July.  Photo by Hobart Jones.

Betty and friends at the Andy Griffith Museum in July. Photo by Hobart Jones.

Betty Lynn has been drawing large crowds of fans to her meet-and-greet afternoons once a month at the Andy Griffith Museum. Though a bit under the weather for a spell in late August, she looks forward to welcoming her fellow TAGS stars and all attendees at Mayberry Days this month..

Ronnie Schell (two TAGS episodes and Duke Slater on “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C”) completed a stint at Harrah’s Improv Comedy Club in Las Vegas in June and another at Harvey’s in Lake Tahoe in July. Also, he did some selections from his stand-up comedy act and performed Love Letters with Maggie Peterson (who also did a set of favorite songs) at the Touch of Mayberry festival in Hiram, Georgia in August.

Maggie Peterson (left) with Rodney and Beverly Dillard at the Cruise-In in Oakboro, N.C., part of the DARE fundraiser weekend.  Photo by Tom Rusk.

Maggie Peterson (left) with Rodney and Beverly Dillard at the Cruise-In in Oakboro, N.C., part of the DARE fundraiser weekend that also included a concert in nearby Troy. Photo by Tom Rusk.

And later in August Maggie joined TV brother Rodney Dillard for another successful DARE concert and fundraiser with a full roster of the Mayberry tribute artists in Oakboro and Troy, N.C.

James Best has had an active year so far with performing and making personal appearances. And also painting (you can view–and buy!– his work at www.jamesbestart.com). James also has been making time for some fascinating sightseeing and leisurely travel. He recently returned from a family vacation in Europe. But barely back from that, he immediately hit the ground running for two performances of his one-man “Best in Hollywood” show and a “Dukes of Hazzard” reunion show.

James also won a Kay Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Norman Thayer Jr. in the Hickory Theatre’s production of On Golden Pond last spring.  Way to go, Jimmie!

Peggy McCay (Sharon DeSpain) took a tumble on the set of “Days of Our Lives” in June. But ever spunky, she quickly bounced back and is looking forward to being at Mayberry Days this month.

Jackie Joseph introduced Ken Berry, who then introduced mutual pal Larry Storch, for Larry’s official final stand-up comedy performance, which he did at the Comedy Store in L.A. this past weekend. Next stop for Jackie is Mayberry Days!

Joy Ellison (Mary Wiggins and others), making her debut at Mayberry Days this month, is currently on location in New Orleans as dialect coach during the filming of the often nominated and award-winning “American Horror Story” anthology TV series.

MorganBookCoverMorgan Brittany (Mary Alice Carter) is gearing up for touring and media appearances to promote her new book, titled What Women Really Want, which is being released this week. (Yes, she will have books on hand to sign for fans at Mayberry Days!)

Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey) has been busy as usual with lots of Disney-related appearances, including at a Disneyana Club event in Garden Grove, Calif., in July. Keep up with Margaret on her website: www.tinkerbelltalks.com. The Club House section of her site also has a video of her cutting up with George Lindsey Jr. (That Club House area is for “members only” and requires a paid subscription.)

Karen Knotts has had several performances of her “Tied Up in Knotts” stage show so far this year.  And she has more shows coming up, including Mayberry Days (see Floyd’s bulletin board above). She also recently performed in a two-month run of the well-reviewed I’m Not Just a Comic Genius at the Secret Rose Theatre in North Hollywood.

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We’re sad to report the passing of two talented me with connections to the production of TAGS and one of its “Sister Figure” shows.

Rick Mittleman, who wrote 20 episodes of “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” He died following a car accident while walking his dog on July 30 in Los Angeles. He was 84.

MittlemanDuring his five-decade career writing for TV, Rick was a three-time Emmy nominee who specialized in comedies. Among the shows for which he wrote were “The Red Skelton Hour” (which earned him his first Emmy nod), “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Flintstones,” Get Smart,” ‘Bewitched,” “McHale’s Navy,” “The Odd Couple,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “M*A*S*H” and “Arnie,” which earned him his second Emmy nomination. His third Emmy nomination was for the 1975 comedy special “Van Dyke and Company.”

Rick also wrote for “Remington Steele,” “Simon & Simon,” “Murder She Wrote,” “Matlock” and many others. His last writing credit was for a 1999 episode of “Early Edition.”

He was a producer for several shows, including “You Asked for It,” in the 1950s. And though he never wrote for TAGS, Rick was a favored writer of the Sheldon Leonard/Danny Thomas family of shows, including not only “Dick Van Dyke” and “Gomer Pyle,” but also “That Girl” and “I Spy,” as well as shows steered by TAGS producer Aaron Ruben, including “Sanford & Son.”

Rick served on the board of directors for the Writers Guild of America for several years, and in 1997 received the WGA’s Morgan Cox Award for exceptional service to the Guild.

Survivors include his wife, Arlene, children Todd, Rachel and Dana, and four grandchildren.

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Ted (Theodore J.) Flicker, who directed three classic episodes of TAGS, died September 12 at his home in Sante Fe, N.M. He was 84.

Ted directed “The Lucky Letter” (Episode 146), “Aunt Bee’s Invisible Beau” (Episode 154) and “The Arrest of the Fun Girls” (Episode 155).  He is probably best known as co-creator (with Danny Arnold) of the “Barney Miller” TV series, which won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1982, as well as a Peabody Award, Golden Globes and many other industry honors.

Ted also directed episodes of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “Night Gallery,” “The Streets of San Francisco,” “Banacek,” “Nichols” and others top shows.  He also occasionally acted and also wrote scripts for TV shows, including “The Mod Squad.”

TheodoreFlickerBorn in Freehold Borough, N.J., on June 6, 1930, Ted studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London before joining the improvisational Compass Theater in Chicago in 1954. He wrote and directed the 1959 Broadway Musical The Nervous Set. For the big screen, he co-wrote and directed 1964’s The Troublemaker, and he directed The President’s Analyst (1967), among others.

Ted was also an accomplished sculptor and had a large sculpture garden next to his home in Santa Fe, where he had lived for 28 years.

Ted Flicker is survived by Barbara, his wife of 48 years.

 Editor’s Note: Thanks to our ace stringer Brent Seguine for alerting us to the passing of both Rick Mittleman and Ted Flicker.

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**** Chapter Update ****

Two new chapters have started since the July eBullet.  That brings us to a new total of 1,424 chapters that have been founded since  TAGSRWC started almost 35 years ago (October 1979).

Here are the two newest chapters:

Opie and Aunt Bee with a Coaster Wagon and a Pack of Yappin’ Dogs
Williston, Fla.
Mayberry Ministries Clinton, Miss.

Starting a chapter of TAGSRWC is really easy to do.  Just pick a name that hasn’t already been chosen (that’s the challenging part!), and submit it with a list of your founding members by e-mail or by U.S. Mail to TAGSRWC’s HQ in Nashville.  There’s a searchable list of chapter names that are already taken at www.tagsrwc.com. You can submit your chapter name request to Goober@imayberry.com.

Whether or not you start or join a local chapter, you can always join our online “Who’s Been Messin’ Up the Bulletin Board?” chapter. (It’s really quick and easy to do. Info is at tagsrwc.com.)

We always enjoy hearing news (and seeing photos) from existing chapters.  (See the Chapter News section below.) And if HQ can ever be of any service to your chapter (“Will you help us?”), we’re always here to do whatever we can.

Just jump in where you can, hang on!

**** Merchandise Update ****

We have seven brand new officially licensed TAGS items in the last month!  And that’s on top of three new ones in July.  Those and other highlights are below.  Browse the full selection of books, apparel, DVDs, music, artwork, collectibles, items for your vehicle and much more at our online Weaver’s Department Store (www.weaversdepartmentstore.com).

We appreciate your shopping at Weaver’s, especially because Weaver’s sales are by far the main thing that helps TAGSRWC be able to offer financial support to Mayberry Days and other Mayberry-connected events and charitable efforts throughout the year. We appreciate your helping us do that through your shopping with us!

New This Month:

 Words of Wisdom T-Shirt

TrevcoCBS1539$20.00

This design is brand new in September! It captures a special sentiment between Andy and Opie. Kind and wise words from a father to his son.

The image on the shirt is deliberately distressed and splattered to give it an old, family scrapbooky feel. (Or maybe more like Newton Monroe spilled some paint on it.) Anyway, that’s a cool look these days, so if you want to be hip, you gotta have a shirt with some roughness, even if the photo itself is charming. All on a charcoal- colored shirt. It’s the color of choice of the Ankrums and other families around Mayberry

 Lawmen Throw, Blanket, Pillow, Pillow Case and Beach Towel

LawmenThrowLawmen design available in assorted items (woven Throw shown)

Everybody is so keen on the Lawmen design that one of the licensed manufacturers just went wild coming up with things to put it on.  With Aunt Bee and Clara’s help, of course.  You’ll find a cool (and warm!) assortment of items for fun decor, whether in your home or at the duck pond.  Mix and match.  Actually, at this point, it’s more like match and match.  But that just makes decorating all the easier!  Everything goes together when it’s all the same!

Lawmen Bandana

LawmenBandana$16.00

This is a brand new item for this fall.  Made of 100% polyester for a soft feel and easy care.  It measures a generous 22 in. x 22 in.

Lawmen on the front and TAGS logos covering the back.  Definitely nothing to sneeze at…unless you need to.  For example, if you’re wearing the ol’ salt and pepper (ha-ha), then you’ll be extra glad that you have the coolest handy kerchief around!

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Featured This Month at Weaver’s:

2015 Andy Griffith Show Wall Calendar

2015TAGSCalendarFront 2015CalendarBack$15.00 
Now in stock!

We think the 2015 edition is a particularly good edition. It features 11 different characters (a new record for 21st century Mayberry calendars).  All photos are black and white, but there’s a lot of nice color in the design around the photos.

Because of a smaller allotment this year, this edition may end up being somewhat harder to find later on than some previous editions have been, but we’ll do our best to keep it in stock for as long as we can. There just may not be the discounts available to later shoppers that some earlier editions have had.

As 2015 will be the 55th Anniversary of TAGS, what better way to keep Mayberry on your mind every day than with this cool calendar!

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Halloween Special

RemshawTrio

The eyes have it!

Direct from the Remshaw House, we’ve got a special deal on a couple of creepily fun items that are indirectly related to Mayberry.  Check them out…if you dare!

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From Ben Weaver’s Archives:

The Andy Griffith Show Trivia Game

TAGSTriviaGame$59.00 $49.00

TAGSTriviaGameOpenThis is the original Andy Griffith Show Trivia board game from 1998. It’s now out of print and really hard to find still unused and even sealed in its original shrink wrap, but we’ve got a couple.

A wonderful game to play or to preserve as a collectible. (Even crusty ol’ Ben thinks it’s more fun to play than to save back!)

Loads of fun anytime!

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Weaver’s of course always has individual Season sets of “The Andy Griffith Show,” The Entire Series  (now only $109.00!) and a 50th Anniversary Collection of TAGS on DVD, Season 1 of TAGS on Blu-ray as well as DVD sets of  “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” and favorite movies and other features starring Andy Griffith, Don Knotts and the Dillards.

Sneak Peek: A Preview and Quick Book Review

A Cuban in Mayberry–Looking Back at America’s Hometown

CubanInMayberry$30.00  $27.00
Pre-order now at Weaver’s
Shipping in early October

We’re taking pre-orders now for a brand new and outstanding book about TAGS, the first book directly about the show itself in about a dozen years. It’s titled A Cuban in Mayberry–Looking Back at America’s Hometown, by Gustavo Pérez Firmat, a native of Cuba who is a professor of humanities at Columbia University. (He also has lived and taught for decades in North Carolina.)

This well-written 194-page book from the University of Texas Press is a very scholarly discussion about TAGS.  It’s basically written from the perspective of somebody like “Stranger in Town” Ed Sawyer, someone who’s not native to Mayberry, but eagerly sees the joys and wants to understand and be a part of the friendly town. Gustavo Pérez Firmat (in Mayberry, he surely would be simply Gus) identifies with the Ed Sawyer experience.  And he’s also a lot like Howard Sprague, who makes his own relatively late appearance in our view of Mayberry, but is welcomed as one of the gang.

Indeed, this book is one that’s more likely to be found on a bookshelf at Howard’s house or maybe at Helen Crump’s place rather than either up in Barney’s room, where the reading tends to be breezy detective chronicles and fast-lens photography, or in Goober’s collection of thinner books, such as Crab Monster (sorry, Goob–only 17 pictures in this book).

Professor Pérez Firmat makes keen observations about TAGS, its production, and its relevance in culture and social history. Fans may chuckle (or wince) at some of the “trivial trivialities” that trip up the professor.  For example, he writes that Andy’s favorite dish is lamb stew, a slight miscue likely caused by his sometimes relying on Andy Griffith’s donated scripts in the library at UNC-Chapel Hill for reference rather than the filmed episodes.

GustavoA&ORaleigh

MAN IN THE MIDDLE–Author Gustavo Pérez Firmat at the TV Land Landmark statue for TAGS in Raleigh, N.C. Maybe he’ll soon also get to pose with the revered version of the statue in Mount Airy.

Those slips are easily forgivable, because the thrust of this book is not episodic trivia, but rather a broader examination of themes, such as the role of things like place and home and relationships, both in Mayberry and in American society.  (It’s also worth noting that there probably hasn’t been a Mayberry book yet without its share of trivial and non-trivial errors.  There’s just such a huge number of interesting facts to catalog. All Mayberry writers could benefit from access to that complete set of TAGS scripts for checking the spellings of names, etc.!)

While there might be a tendency among many in academia to too easily dismiss TAGS as just more TV fluff that’s not worthy of their intellectual attention, Professor Pérez Firmat is not of that school.  He has an obvious affection for TAGS and strives to enhance that affinity with a deeper understanding.  He has definitely been wearing a bucket on his head and taking a think under there.

That said, sometimes the Professor might be guilty of over-thinking some observations about the show when he’s trying to make a larger and valid point. An example of this would be his attaching significance to the headlines of the prop newspapers used on the show–suggesting that they were chosen to illustrate how provincial Mayberry is.  Legions of modern-day “trained noticers” among us have also enjoyed spotting these headlines and similar little things visible on the show. But as proof that Professor Pérez Firmat is as much fan as scholar, he possibly gives them too much emphasis in supporting his themes.

Though some of the newspapers on TAGS were custom made for the show by a prop provider (such as when Mayberry goes Hollywood or when Barney cracks the Walker robbery case or is the hero in the cave rescue or when Floyd “captures” the lady convicts), most of the generic newspapers on TAGS were just the same props (or reconfigured versions with stock headlines and stories) used on all sorts of other film productions. (Or in the cases of the use of The Mount Airy News, the newspapers were just Andy Griffith’s sly way of saying hello to the folks back in his hometown.)

ChineseTrees

“DON’T THE TREES SEEM NICE AND FULL”–The infamous “Chinese Living in Trees” headline, a favorite of “trained noticers.” (Click to view larger, as with most photos in any eBullet.) This is the type of trivia that’s far from the main themes of most of A Cuban in Mayberry, but still part of the fun of watching TAGS.

A fun instance of this topic is the Professor’s reference to a small newspaper headline seen in TAGS that says “130,000 Chinese living in trees as result of flood.”  (The actual headline says 110,000, and is seen in newspaper props used in two TAGS episodes, but that could be just nitpicking!) This same headline is also visible in a copy of the Daily Planet used in an episode of “Superman.”  And it can even be spotted in The Sitter Downers, a 1937 Three Stooges short and other films as early as at least 1935. And more to the point, these filler newspaper stories in Mayberry usually weren’t even supposed (or probably even possible) to be read by viewers given the picture quality of TVs during the original broadcasts.  Only with the advent of later technologies such as VCRs, DVDs, HD-TVs and Blu-ray have many of these visual trivialities become part of TAGS consciousness, much less its lore.

So, like all of us who enjoy TAGS and gladly sometimes slide down the wonderfully enjoyable slippery slope of believing (or at least wanting to believe) that everything in Mayberry is really real, even Professor Pérez Firmat’s rigorous scholarship occasionally succumbs to the lures of both Mayberry’s fantastic realism and the pure fun of Mayberry minutia (including bloopers).  That’s a good thing.

And the helplessness that we all have (if we’re lucky) in being drawn into the satisfying world of Mayberry is also where the incredible attention given to the fine details of the show by Andy Griffith, Aaron Ruben, Bob Ross, the writers and others–but most especially Andy Griffith–really works its magic.  Unlike almost any other TV show, TAGS creates a believable fictional world that’s so rich with interesting people, stories, and generally authentic details that we never tire of exploring, learning, and experiencing as much about that world as we can. And most of all, we just enjoy watching (visiting!) Mayberry and being entertained.  All that, plus Barney’s hilarious. Professor Pérez Firmat gets all these things.

So, for anyone who enjoys thinking about and understanding more about Mayberry, a description that likely fits most readers of this newsletter as much as any other community in the world, A Cuban in Mayberry is fascinating reading, maybe even essential.  You probably won’t agree with all of Professor Pérez Firmat’s observations and conclusions about TAGS, but you’re sure to enjoy the journey.

Professor Gustavo Pérez Firmat, you have no worries.  You should know that you are heartily welcomed as a fellow citizen of Mayberry.  In other words, “Attaboy, Gus!”

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Find all of these items and much more at weaversdepartmentstore.com, or just click on the orange and blue Weaver’s button at the top left or top right of the page whenever you’re visiting www.imayberry.com.

**** Chapter News ****

Members of the “Hearty Eatin’ Men and Beautiful, Delicate Women” (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), “You Better Put a Buckeye in Your Pocket and Do the Incant for a Sore Foot” (Bessemer, Ala.), Mayberry Minutemen (Graysville, Ala.) and Mayberry Squad Car (Canton, Ga.) were among those joining local fans at the Touch of Mayberry event starring Maggie Peterson and Ronnie Schell in Hiram, Ga., in August.

THE QUEEN AND HER COURT--Betty is surrounded by friends Neil and Pat Coleman of "Remembering Mayberry" chapter (Chillicothe, Ohio) and grandchildren Evan and Alli outside the Andy Griffith Museum in July. Photo by Hobart Jones.

THE QUEEN AND HER COURT–Betty is surrounded by friends Neil and Pat Coleman of “Remembering Mayberry” chapter (Chillicothe, Ohio) with beaming grandchildren Evan and Alli outside the Andy Griffith Museum in July. Photo by Hobart Jones.

Some of those same chapters and more than a dozen others from at least seven states also participated in Jeff (Howard Sprague) Branch’s annual DARE fundraiser with Maggie and Rodney Dillard and the Dillard Band the following weekend in Troy, N.C.

Mayberry chapter (Knoxville, Tenn.) had their popular annual day at the lake in August.  (No report of loons, through Dennis Beal was there, so maybe that’s a question asked and answered!)

Barney chapter (Greensboro, N.C.) is tight-lipped as usual about its plans for the Mayberry Days parade.  When a member of Andy chapter (Nashville, Tenn) was told by a Barney member that he couldn’t be privy to the plans, he was possibly overheard to mutter, “But Barney member, you’re my mother!”

OUR KIND OF FOLKS--Ron and Terry Quinsey of "We're the Cat's! chapter enjoy a perch after lunch together in Niagara, Ont. Longtime Mayberry Days attendees (circa 1993-95 ) likely have fond memories of hearing Ron sing during Colonel Tim's Talent--especially his show-stopping version of "My Kind of Town."

OUR KIND OF FOLKS–Ron and Terry Quinsey of “We’re the Cat’s! chapter and Mary Clark (right, of Andy chapter) enjoy a garden perch after lunch together in Niagara, Ont. Longtime Mayberry Days attendees (circa 1993-95 ) likely have fond memories of hearing Ron sing during Colonel Tim’s Talent–especially his show-stopping version of “My Kind of Town.”

That rejection might’ve been motivation enough for Andy chapter to head to Canada in August, creating the opportunity for what are believed to be the first and second joint chapter meetings outside of the U.S. of chapters from more than one country.  In other words, chapters from the U.S. and Canada met in Canada.

First up was a lunch meeting in Niagara with members of “We’re the Cat’s!” (Fort Erie, Ont.)  We don’t want to let the cat out of the bag quite yet, but we’ll have more news about something exciting the chapter has been up to in our next issue.

GOOBER SAYS EH!--A selfie Goober with Canadian Yankees fan Albert Cooper, Albuquerque Isotopes fan Mary Clar, and Blue Jays fan Beth Cooper at the ol' ball game in Toronto.

GOOBER SAYS EH!–A selfie Goober with Canadian Yankees fan Albert Cooper, Albuquerque Isotopes fan Mary Clark, and Blue Jays fan Beth Cooper at the ol’ ball game in Toronto.

The next international chapter gathering was in Toronto, where Andy chapter members joined “‘Course I Don’t Fix ‘em.  I Just Put in the Gas” (Oil City, Ont.) for an outing that lasted nine innings.  In a way, there were 38,000 others (including Derek Jeter) at the get-together, but we probably should stick to just the four we know were at the meeting as part of TAGSRWC, even though the Yankees shortstop did hit one for the ol’ Goober.

And our largest gathering of chapters is just ahead with several dozen chapters and about 30,000 fans in all gearing up for the 25th annual Mayberry Days in Mount Airy.  We’ll have news about that and much more in our November issue.

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It’s always with great sadness that we note the passing of TAGSRWC members.  And it’s not something we always know about or are able to report in every instance.  But we’ve recently learned of the passing of the founders of two of our earliest chapters, and want to share that news.

Peter Finkel, founder of Howard Sprague chapter. Photo courtesy of Steve Nathan.

Peter Finkel, founder of Howard Sprague chapter. Photo courtesy of Steve Nathan.

Peter Finkel, founder of Howard Sprague chapter (Framingham, Mass.), passed away suddenly on March 10.  He was 59.

Peter was steadfastly active in TAGSRWC for three decades.  In the early years of our group, he was our sole, stalwart outpost in the Northeast. He was a graduate of the New York Film Institute and a licensed projectionist, and he had a wide range of expertise in audio-visual technologies.  He was also a longtime stand-up comic and talented drummer.

His family and many friends looked forward to his special cards each Christmas.  They paid tribute entertainers who had died during the last year. Though Peter never got to attend any of our large Mayberry gatherings in other parts of the country, he was a vital part of the spirit of TAGSRWC.  He’ll remain an inspiration.

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We also recently learned of the passing on July 2 of Elmo Dooley, who along with late wife Betty was founder of Aunt Bee chapter (Cookeville, Tenn.).  He was 90.

Dr. Elmo S. Dooley, founder of Aunt Bee chapter.

Dr. Elmo S. Dooley, founder of Aunt Bee chapter.

Elmo was a top scientist of his time.  And his time was a long time.  He was the chief microbiologist for two U.S. military medical research labs and also worked for NASA and as an intelligence analyst.  While working for the space program, one of Elmo’s jobs was to load Able and Baker, the first monkeys launched into space, into their life support capsule.

Elmo retired as a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves after 43 years of active and reserve service.  He was also professor of biology at Tennessee Tech University for 27 years.

As founders of TAGSRWC’s third chapter (after Andy and Barney chapters), Elmo and Betty carried the banner for Aunt Bee chapter with pride for 32 years.  They were dedicated TAGS fans and TAGSRWC correspondents.  They were instrumental in helping TAGSRWC grow and have solid footing in our early days and in all the years since.  As the Darling boys are known for singing, “I remember very well the day old Dooley died.”  And so will many in Mayberry and beyond remember this very special Dooley.

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If your chapter has news or photos to share, you can write to us the old-fashioned way at OUR NEW MAILING & SHIPPING ADDRESS: 118 16th Avenue South, PMB 146, Nashville TN  37203-3100, or by e-mail to Goober@imayberry.com.

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**** Mayberry on the Web ****

imayberrycommunityThe iMayberry Community
This TAGSRWC online group is organized and overseen by webmaster Allan “Floyd” Newsome.   You can check it out and sign up for free at: http://imayberrycommunity.com.

The iMayberry Community complements our other online activities, including our main www.imayberry.com page, podcasts, Facebook page, online newsletters (such as The eBullet!), weaversdepartmentstore.com and chat rooms.  Combined with TAGSRWC chapters and the various Mayberry events for all fans (from Mayberry Days to ocean cruises), not to mention enjoying the sites of Mount Airy year-round, the world of Mayberry fun keeps expanding.

And best of all, it’s all rooted in watching the show itself.  Whether through DVDs and Blu-ray, streaming video, local stations, or TV Land, loving to watch the show continues to be the energy that feeds all the other Mayberry fun and activities that we enjoy.  What a wonderful thing Andy Griffith and his talented team of actors, musicians, writers and crew people created 54 years ago–for us and generations to come!

Mayberry Podcasts

Two Chairs, No Waiting is our weekly podcast of TAGS news, interviews and pretty much whatever happens to be going on in and around Mayberry. It’s hosted by Allan Newsome. There’s a new episode every Tuesday (and you can watch and listen live during tapings on Monday evenings). Past episodes are in an online Archives in case you want to listen to or view episodes you’ve missed. (There have been 296 episodes since Allan started the podcasts almost six years ago.)

There’s a lot of info and discussions that you simply won’t find anywhere else, including rare interviews (vintage and new) with cast and crew members of TAGS. If you’ve got sound on your computer or have an iPod or similar device, you can easily tune in live or download these podcasts.

Also, check out the podcast area of our www.imayberry.com site for info about a Mayberry Bible Study Podcast, also hosted by Allan, and a “brother figure” podcast called Burke on Mayberry, hosted by Kevin Burke.

FLOYD: "92!  Degrees?"   ANDY: "No, thousand!" FLOYD: "Thousand!?  That's hot!"

FLOYD: “92! Degrees?”
ANDY: “No, thousand!”
FLOYD: “Thousand!? Ooooo…That’s hot!”

TAGSRWC’s official page on Facebook now has more than 92,000 friends! You can find us at www.facebook.com/tagsrwc. There’s a variety of comments about Mayberry, and a lively stream of thoughts from fans about TAGS, plus photos. And our Facebook page is also one of the first places we post announcements and breaking news about TAGS. If you haven’t already dropped by the page, we hope you’ll check it out sometime when you have the chance. We invite you to become a TAGSRWC Facebook Friend!

   **** Post Note ****

If you ever miss receiving an issue of The eBullet, you can always catch up by reading it in the eBullet Archives in the Newsletters section at imayberry.com. Each issue is usually placed in the Archives at about the same time that it’s distributed to subscribers.

Between issues of The eBullet, keep up with all the happenings in Mayberry with the daily Who’s Been Messin’ Up the Bulletin Board? (aka “WBMUTBB?”) Digest. It’s a free subscriber list that consists entirely of comments, newsflashes, and questions and answers from subscribers. You can sign up for that list by going to the Mailing Lists link at tagsrwc.com. “WBMUTBB?” also has its own Archives where you can follow the ongoing stream of messages.

And TAGSRWC publishes Weaver’s Newsletter in alternate months to The eBullet. Like The eBullet, the Weaver’s Newsletter is free. Its focus is tilted a little more to Mayberry merchandise and collectibles and quick newsflashes. To sign up, go to: Weaver’s Newsletter Sign-Up.

TAGSRWC’s other main vehicle for Mayberry information is simply our website at www.tagsrwc.com (and its sister site www.imayberry.com). Both sites have extensive content and links for just about everything a Mayberry fan might be looking for.

The next eBullet is planned for November, and the next Weaver’s Newsletter will be out in October.

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Get ready for Mayberry Days fun!  Photo by Hobart Jones.

Get ready for Mayberry Days fun! (It’ll be hair before you know it!) Photo by Hobart Jones.

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