Welcome to Our Fifth Issue for 2018!
Pre-Mayberry Days Issue
We’re all keyed up for the annual Mayberry Days in Mount Airy. N.C., from Sept. 27 to 30!
There has also been a lot happening around Mayberry in the two months since our last issue, so we’ll get right to it all the goin’s on.
* Sept. 21: Betty Lynn greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 1:00-3:00 p.m. (Beat the rush to visit with her next week at Mayberry Days!) She will have autographed 8 x 10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Sept. 22: Roland White and his band perform at 9 p.m. at the Station Inn in Nashville, Tenn.
* Sept. 27-30: 29th Annual Mayberry Days in Mount Airy, N.C. Actually, a few festival events start as early as Monday the 24th. Stars from “The Andy Griffith Show” confirmed so far include Betty Lynn, Keith Thibodeaux (his Mayberry Days debut), Dennis Rush (Opie’s pal Howie in his Mayberry Days debut), Rodney Dillard, Maggie Peterson Mancuso, Clint Howard, Ronnie Schell, Margaret Kerry, and LeRoy McNees.
Karen Knotts will also present her show “A Deputy’s Daughter.” Bettina Linke, wife of late TAGS associate producer Richard O. Linke; Laura Hagen, wife of late TAGS music director Earle Hagen; and Stark Howell (son of actor Hoke Howell, aka Dud Wash) also will be attending.
Tickets are available for several performances and activities, including The Doug Dillard Tribute Concert featuring Rodney Dillard and his band, Ronnie Schell’s Salute to Jim Nabors, and “Bluegrass Mayberry Style” by LeRoy McNees and Friends.
Also performing are the VW Boys with their “Salute to Mayberry,” the Motown Legacy Revue, Michael Hoover’s “Memories of Elvis,” the Mayberry Days debut of country star Collin Raye (four platinum albums and four #1 singles), the legendary Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives (another Mayberry Days debut), James Gregory (“the funniest man in America”), and the Malpass Brothers.
There’s still more: Colonel Tim’s Talent Time, Neal Brower’s Lecture/TAGSRWC Annual Meeting (featuring Clint Howard, Keith Thibodeaux and Dennis Rush for the Lecture and then an extended visit with Clint for the first part of the TAGSRWC Meeting that immediately follows the Lecture), and the Mayberry Days Golf Tournament and its separate Banquet & Entertainment, which this year features popular stand-up comedian Henry Cho, often called Mr. Clean for the wholesome hilarity he’s known for on The Grand Ole Opry, Comedy Central and Sirius Radio.
Or make it a whole week of fun in Mount Airy with shows earlier in the week, Sept. 24-26, including comedian John Floyd (Mon.), beach music by both Band of Oz (Tues.) and The Embers featuring Craig Woolard (Wed.), and screenings of 1983’s Murder in Coweta County (starring Andy Griffith and Johnny Cash) along with a special Q&A with producer Dick Atkins (Tues. and Wed. afternoons).
And those are just the ticketed events. There’s much more that doesn’t require tickets, including the Mayberry Days Parade, Mrs. Wiley’s Tea Party, trivia, apple-peeling, checkers, horseshoes, pie-eating, pork chop sandwich-eating and Mayberry Idle Talent contests, music, and a variety of vendors.
And that’s not to mention meet-and-greet sessions with the Mayberry stars, the Andy Griffith Museum, Mayberry-related movies at the Earle Theatre, Mayberry Days Silent Auction, and all of the everyday sights and attractions of Mount Airy.
For complete info, visit www.mayberrydays.org.
* Oct. 6: Special guests Rodney Dillard and the Dillard Band and Maggie Peterson Mancuso are joined by David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning and host Tim White with the VW Boys for a taping of “Song of the Mountains” (the official TV show of the State of Virginia) at 7:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Va. Reserved seat tickets are $25. For info and tickets, visit https://songofthemountains.org.
* Oct. 19: Betty Lynn greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 1:00-3:00 p.m. She will have autographed 8 x 10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Oct. 26: Roland White and his band perform at 9 p.m. at the Station Inn in Nashville, Tenn.
* Nov. 5-10: Mayberry Cruise 13. Dixie Griffith (daughter of Andy) will be the guest for the cruise to the Western Caribbean from Tampa to Cozumel and back aboard Carnival’s Paradise. For more info, visit www.allaboutcruisesnc.net or call (336) 538-4926.
* Nov. 16: Betty Lynn greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 1:00-3:00 p.m. She will have autographed 8 x 10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Nov. 23: Roland White and his band perform at 9 p.m. at the Station Inn in Nashville, Tenn.
* Dec. 1: Roland White and his band host the annual Bill Monroe Appreciation Night at 9 p.m. at the Station Inn in Nashville, Tenn.
* Dec. 21: Betty Lynn greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 1:00-3:00 p.m. She will have autographed 8 x 10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
**** News of Cast & Crew ****
Ron Howard has several films in the queue at Imagine and he’s currently slated to direct three of them: The Girl Before, Seveneves and a documentary about Luciano Pavarotti.
Along with Imagine partner Brian Grazer, Ron also continues to serve as executive producer of acclaimed TV shows, including “Arrested Development,” “Genius” and “Mars,” which returns for a second season on the National Geographic Channel on Nov. 12.
There’s also chatter (notably from Ron himself) about developing a sequel to Willow, which Ron directed for executive producer George Lucas three decades ago.
The beautiful 5,900 square-foot Honolulu home that Jim Nabors bought in 1992 is now for sale. Nestled on a lush half acre of Diamond Head oceanfront property, the estate has an asking price of $14.9 million. (Goober was interested, but later concluded, “I ain’t no Rockefeller!”) Here’s a link to an article about the the listing, which includes several interior and exterior photos.
Maggie Peterson Mancuso headlined the Mayberry Night in Troy, N.C., earlier this month. She was joined by Dixie Griffith (daughter of Andy), the popular VW Boys and a big contingent of Mayberry tribute artists for the annual fundraiser for the local DARE program.
Going coast to coast, Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey) was in North Carolina in July for the Raleigh Supercon, and she also did a personal appearance for the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco in August. She’s back in North Carolina for Mayberry Days this month.
Bettina Linke (wife of late TAGS associate producer Richard O. Linke, also longtime personal manager for Andy Griffith, Jim Nabors, Ken Berry, Maggie Peterson Mancuso, Ronnie Schell, and Jerry Van Dyke) says that all’s safe from the Kilauea eruption on her side of Hawaii’s Big Island. Just a little extra thick air, or “vog” as it’s often called. However, Bettina and her fellow Hawaiians also had to deal with torrential rains from Hurricane Lane a few weeks ago. Next up for Bettina is Mayberry Days, right on the heels of Hurricane Florence, whose lingering effects continue to devastate much of the Carolinas.
On August 17, we updated our Special Edition of The eBullet: Remembering Dean Webb by adding a link to the text of Pastor Rich Futrell’s beautiful Funeral Sermon from the Celebration of Life Memorial Service for Dean on August 11. We highly recommend it as inspiring and informative reading!
We’re very sad to report that Sandy Webb, Dean’s wife, died September 3 from complications with treatment for breast cancer. (She had been diagnosed three days before Dean died in June.)
Sandy attended several Mayberry events with Dean over the years, and some Mayberry fans also got to know her well at performances by Missouri Boatride, Dean’s most recent band. Our hearts continue to got out to Dean and Sandy’s family during what has been a summer of great loss.
It is with great sadness that we also learned of the passing of banjo legend Billy Ray Lathum in Nashville on August 19. He was 80.
As a member of The Country Boys, Billy appeared in two episodes during the first season of TAGS: “Mayberry on Record” and “Quiet Sam.” Songs the group performed in “Mayberry on Record” were also included as tracks on the Songs, Themes and Laughs from “The Andy Griffith Show” album released on Capitol Records in 1961. (It was during this period that Billy also found time to give a young Barbara Mandrell her first banjo lessons. He later also gave jump-started The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia’s mastery of the banjo with some early lessons.)
Billy was born the son of cotton farmers in Wild Cat Corner, Ark. (that is, in northeastern Arkansas near Hazel Grove in the southeast corner of Sharp County near the Lawrence County and Independence County lines and more or less in the middle of a triangle formed by the communities of Strawberry, Evening Shade and Oil Trough), on January 12, 1938. Billy moved with his family to Michigan, where his father had found work in a factory after farming could no longer provide for his family.
At a very young age, Billy largely taught himself to play guitar and eventually focused on the banjo. Having to drop out of school to help support his family after his father died, Billy worked various jobs dealing with the automotive industry. He played music in his spare time and even put together a group that was good enough to play on local live radio shows. Billy Ray worked at GM for a while before getting laid off. He then joined his brother in California, where he worked at a gas station. He played music wherever and whenever he could while hoping for the right career opportunity.
That opportunity came when brothers Clarence, Roland, and Eric White asked him (and soon after LeRoy Mack McNees) to join them in forming what became The Country Boys in 1957. Billy was still with the the band when they changed their name to The Kentucky Colonels in 1963 and remained with the group until they broke up near the height of their success in late 1965. Band members pursued their own artistic directions in what was becoming a vibrant and diverse bluegrass, folk and emerging country-rock music scene.
Billy decided to move to Missouri. He got married and settled into work as a musician on the “Ozark Opry” in Branson for a few years, before getting the itch to return to California, where he worked at his brother’s gas station.
Before long, though, Billy was back playing music full time. He recorded and toured with Doug Dillard and the Expedition for a short time in 1969 and into 1970. He then recorded two albums and toured with Rick Nelson for a couple of years. Meanwhile, Billy continued to cross-pollinate his musical interests with a lot of the blossoming country rock bands of the late 1960s and 1970s, including The Country Gazette. He frequently crossed paths and collaborated with his former Country Boys bandmates.
In 1971 Billy began recording with The Dillards and by 1972 had officially joined the band. He was with The Dillards until 1978, and then joined Roger Miller’s band, mainly as guitarist, in 1979.
After his stint with Roger Miller, Billy kept busy for most of the 1980s with bands of various configurations (including one with his second wife) around his home base in California.
Some health issues curtailed his touring and much of his performing in the early 1990s before being able to resume with the Laurel Canyon Ramblers for a couple of albums in the mid-’90s, before his health once again caused him to have to leave the road in 1997.
By 2003, Billy had accepted an invitation to be the new banjo player with Soulgrass, a Kentucky-based group that had started the year before. The move to Kentucky Wildcats country was a natural move for a native of Wild Cat Corner. He eventually settled in the town of Horse Cave, near Mammoth Cave.
A horrific car wreck nearly took Billy’s life in 2004. His right arm was so severely injured in the accident that he never fully recovered the distinctive banjo-playing form for which he was so renowned. Soulgrass disbanded that year as well.
Billy Ray Lathum is remembered by friends and his fellow musicians as one of the truly untamable, ever-restless creative spirits of his realm. When he was ready to change direction and try something else, he did. As his friend and former bandmate LeRoy Mack McNees fondly wrote in an online post about his friend, “He was always searching for the next best thing.”
That was indeed Billy Ray Lathum–truly a wild cat.
Editor’s Note: An informal memorial was held for Billy at The Station Inn in Nashville on September 1.
**** Chapter Update ****
One new chapter has started since the July eBullet:
“That’s the Mayberry Knot-Tying Club.
Meets Here Every Tuesday.” Taylors, S.C.
That brings us to a total of 1,459 chapters founded since TAGSRWC began in Nashville in the fall of 1979.
Starting a chapter of TAGSRWC is really easy to do. Just pick a name that hasn’t already been selected by another group. (O.K., so maybe that part is getting harder!)
You can check the searchable list of chapter names already taken at www.tagsrwc.com. Then submit your chapter’s name with a list of your founding members by e-mail (to Goober@imayberry.com) or by U.S. Mail to TAGSRWC’s HQ (118 16th Avenue South, Suite 4, PMB 146, Nashville, TN 37203-3100).
TAGSRWC Time Capsule
**** Merchandise Update ****
Ben Weaver has been busy making sure his virtual shelves are filled for all your Mayberry shopping needs. Here’s the latest:
Available Now! $15.00
The official 2019 TAGS Wall Calendar is now in stock at Weaver’s and ready to ship.
The 2019 edition of this annual favorite features photos from all around the town of Mayberry. You can see which characters are featured each month in the image at left. And at right you can see a representation of how the months are displayed.
The calendar is 12 in. wide x 12 in. tall when closed and 12 in. wide x 24 in. tall when open.
Characters featured in this 2019 edition are Andy, Barney, Opie, Aunt Bee, Goober, Floyd and Gomer.
Two calendars for one great price. Just $25.00 for the pair, but only when you buy them together in this special combo. (Think collectibles!)
Enjoy the rest of 2018 and be ready for the new year with this Calendar Combo, the final two of the 20-teens.
Was $30.00 Sale $25.00!
Be ready for Halloween all year long with this haunting print of the very painting that hangs in the Old Remshaw Place in Mayberry.
As you look closely at the print, you will likely notice that the eyes seem to follow you when you move around the room. Of course, “It’s probably just the lighting.”
The print is 16″x 20″ on heavyweight stock. The print will be shipped in an art tube to protect it during shipment.
The print includes the image of the original painting and the image of the frame (just as seen). Get yours before they disappear. And remember that it’s just a print. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Isn’t that right, Gomer? Gomer? Gome?
Weaver’s also now has more than 50 different T-shirt designs to choose from!
Most of our adult-sized T-shirts are just $20. A few designs are $18, and the Lawmen and Sheriff all-over designs are $25. (The long-sleeved Sheriff shirt is $40.) Several designs are available in sweatshirts (and some also as hoodies) as well.
Check out new items and old favorites (including lots of great books for fall reading online at Weaver’s Department Store. (Or just go to www.imayberry.com and click on one of the orange and blue Weaver’s buttons at the top of the page.)
And remember that your purchases from Weaver’s help support Mayberry events and Mayberry-related charitable causes all year long at locations all around the country. Those sales also help keep our online Mayberry newsletters and communities available to everybody free of charge. As always, thank you for shopping at Weaver’s!
**** Chapter News ****
There has been a lot happening involving chapters over the summer. We’ll rely mostly on photos to cover some highlights.
“Blood Brothers” chapter (Macon, Mo.) held its annual summer barbecue in July (see photo). Some members also took a road trip to Wisconsin, where they had a great visit with Mayberry Memories chapter (Eau Claire) before heading on to Clear Lake, location of the Taylor Home Inn and where Mayberry Scout Troop #44 chapter is encamped.
Some members of “Blood Brothers” will be attending Mayberry Days this month, and the chapter as a whole plans to get together for a Halloween party (complete with pizza and hayrides) and again in November for an afternoon of board games and cards as they share Mayberry cheer with residents of a local nursing home.
Mayberry chapter (Knoxville, Tenn.) has continued with events and meetings and celebrations at least monthly through the summer. They’ve participated in a couple of parades with their fleet of Mayberry squad car replicas and their own assortment of Mayberry tribute artists.
The chapter’s Mayberry Minutes newsletter (another deluxe 16-page issue!) should be reaching mailboxes of subscribers this month. And they’ll have a contingent at Mayberry Days, as always.
It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of one of the most beloved members of TAGSRWC. Robert Shelby of Goober’s Auto Dismantling (West Frankfort, Ill.) died on August 23 from complications following heart surgery. He was 67.
Along with wife Jill, Robert has been a cherished friend to many Mayberry fans, as well as members of the TAGS cast and crew. To even more fans, Robert was a familiar, happy face. He and his award-winning Mayberry squad car replica were fixtures at countless Mayberry events over the past 25 years.
That “The Andy Griffith Theme” was the music selected to follow the funeral sermon conveys all you need to know about how much Robert loved TAGS. Words alone tend to fall short in capturing Robert. Instead, here’s a collage of photographs that Allan Newsome composed as a tribute to this wonderful friend.
If you’re attending Mayberry Days, look for an homage to Robert in The Mayberry Confidential, the festival’s official newspaper.
That’s Chapter News for this round. If you have news or photos of your chapter activities that you would like to share with The eBullet, please send your updates to Goober@imayberry.com.
**** Mayberry on the Web ****
This TAGSRWC online group is organized and overseen by webmaster Allan “Floyd” Newsome with spirited help from Keith “Col. Harvey” Brown. (Keith has been under the weather since mid-July, so keep a good thought for him. And yes, you can be sure he knows to take the adult dose of his Elixir!) You can check out the fun 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 pages, online newsletters (such as The eBullet!), weaversdepartmentstore.com and chat rooms.
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. Most weeks also include a Mayberry History Lesson from special correspondent Randy Turner.
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 classic installments you’ve missed. (As of this issue, there have been 496 episodes since Allan started the podcasts almost a decade ago.)
And you’ll also find links on that web page to a couple of other outstanding Mayberry-related podcasts: Burke on Mayberry (hosted by TAGSRWC’s Kevin Burke) and the Mayberry Bible Study Podcast (another one hosted by Allan Newsome).
TAGSRWC’s official page on Facebook has over 240,000 Mayberry friends! You can find us at www.facebook.com/tagsrwc. 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!
We also have links in our “Liked by this Page” section to the pages of several TAGSRWC chapters on Facebook (including the Gomer and Goober Pyle Comic Book Literary Guild), as well as to Facebook pages of Mayberry Days, the Andy Griffith Museum, TAGS actors and others.
Ben Weaver also has his own Facebook page at www.facebook.com/weaversdepartmentstore. It features all the latest in Mayberry items and merchandise news.
**** Post Note ****
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.
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. It has some content overlap with The eBullet, sometimes earlier and sometimes later, depending on the timing of the news. To sign up, go to Weaver’s Newsletter Sign-Up.
The next eBullet, the final issue for the year, will be published in November. The next Weaver’s Newsletter is slated for October.