The Hollisters all got in the truck shortly after my last Porch posting on Wednesdey. We left the house here in Dallas at about 8:00pm our time, and finally arrived at our destination at about 6:00pm Mayberry time Thursdey. After checkin' into the hotel ($7.00!) we took a swim in the hotel pool. It was COLD, but it shore did wake us up good from our long trip! We was SO wide awake that we decided to go downtown and have a look around. It was just wonderful, walkin' the streets of Mount Airy with hardly another soul in sight! We winder-shopped, and talked and laughed together, and had just a good time! We also made some plans for the next day - shops we was gonna come visit again durin' bidness hours, where we was gonna eat lunch and supper, and such as that.
The next mornin' we had a quick breakfast and headed downtown again. Laaawwwww, you never saw so many people gathered in a small town in your life! We DID find a parkin' place though, in the lot right behind Main Street (just a little ways down from Floyd's City Barbershop and the Snappy Lunch). We commenced to visitin' some stores, and lookin' at this and that, and finally wound up in front'a the cinema there on Main Street. Well, just as we come up, LO and BEHOLD, out stepped CHARLENE (Maggie Peterson Mancuso) and ROMEENA (Jackie Joseph) and ALLAN (Floyd) NEWSOME and his family, and DAVID BROWNING the Mayberry Deputy, and PHIL LEE as Ernest T. Bass! My family must'a been the first to see 'em, 'cause they didn't have a big ol' crowd around 'em yet, so we was able to step up to 'em and shake hands and interduce ourselfs, and get pitchers, and I don't know what-all! And it was a fun time. They was all headin' down to hear the Mayor's Mayberry Days Proclamation in front of the Old City Jail, so we went there too.
The Mayor did a good job, 'cept she got the dates a little off (she said Sept 25th-27th, instead'a 24th-26th; she must'a been usin' last year's script). And we got to see Charlene and Romeena again during the proclamation, and we heard the Mount Airy High School choir sang a arrangement of The Fishin' Hole (it was extry-good!) and then a ELVIS impersonator started caterwallin' like somebody was beatin' his dawg, so that was the time that me and the family decided we'd heard enough. Besides, we wanted to get to the Snappy Lunch before the line got too long!
Just as we was approachin' the gift shop across the street from the Snappy Lunch, these two nice-lookin' ladies stopped us there in the middle of the sidewalk. The dark-haired one says, as she's takin' my hand (I wondered why this woman wanted to shake my hand, but I wasn't fightin' it), she says, "Hi, I'm Hazel." Well I just about had a conniption fit right there! "And you must be Andelina!" I said to the purty blond that was standin' with her. And we had us some hugs and "how do you do"s and some laughs, and it was so good to meet some of our Porch buds! I told 'em that I was headin' to the Snappy Lunch line, and that we'd see 'em at the pool later on!
The line at the Snappy Lunch was still not too bad, so we got our porkchop sandwiches in record time, and went back to our little van (we named her "Blue" 'cause she looks like blueberries and cream, according to our daughters) to eat 'em there in the parkin' lot, tailgate-party style. I got to meet MPO and Myra Koonce, and Mary Grace from Arkansas and her hubby Mister Grace while standin' in line at the Snappy Lunch, and after we ate, I met fred and jennie boone, Opie, and Orville Monroe right there in the parkin' lot! The whole weekend was like that: bein' in the right place at the right time to meet somebody, or see somethin', or such as that. It was really neat, you know? Kinda like we "had the rhythm".
Me and the family headed back to the hotel to let our little boy Zach take a nap, then we headed over to the Best Western pool to meet ever'body else! It was a fun time, and we got so many darling little souvenirs from our Porch friends! I just wished I'd'a known that was the custom, 'cause I'd been happy to brang somethin' to share with ever'body. The kids got to swim, but I limited myself to kickin' off my boots and rollin' up my overalls to my knees and soakin' my feet in the pool for a little while. **Barn and Emmett took turns under the bucket to sang The Marines Hymn, and Opie brought a birthday cake with him so's we could all celebrate the September birthdays. It was good, too. Thanks, Ope! Other friends we got to meet and greet (besides the ones I already mentioned) were: Martha (Emmett's darlin' person), Mr. Schwump (my long-lost twin brother!) and his darlin' person Melanie, Nice, real nice MaryGrace and her hubby Mr. Foley, Elinora, Emma, Momma, and judyjudyjudy and her mommer Mrs. Armbruster (she's a little bitty woman!). It was real nice seein' ever'body, but the time just passed too quick!
The Mayberry Days trivia contest was scheduled for 4:30pm over at the Andy Griffith Playhouse, so we all ran back into town (actully, most of us drove) to get there in time to either sign up, or to watch those that did. Let me tell you, some'a them questions was HARD! Some weren't so bad, but Laaaaawwwww... I gotta admit, it was fun, even though I didn't get even half of the questions right! I better start studyin' up fer next year right NOW! I did win a prize by answerin' one'a the questions posed by the folks at the Weiner Burger, who sponsored the contest. By bein' the first to shout out the answer, "Miss Peggy" to the question, "What is Andy's rich girlfriend's name?", I won a book, Goober in a Nutshell, signed by George Lindsey himself!
We met and got to talk with Hoggette and Shawnee and Mayberry Band Member before the trivia contest, and finalized plans for afterwards. They had just gotten into town, and were pretty hongry, so we planned to meet at our hotel pool and get some pizza and set around and jaw. In addition to knowin' these good folks from the Porch, we had also met 'em back in March during our first trip to Mayberry, and they are just the nicest folks you could ever want to meet!
On the way back to the parkin' lot, we met Jim Clark, the head Goober! He's a real nice guy, and he stopped and talked to us just like he was a regular person, and not the head of TAGSRWC and the author of some great TAGS books! What a guy! He asked if we was headin' to the Doug Dillard concert, but we told him no, we were meeting some friends.
My family and Hoggette's family spent the rest of the evenin' beside our pool, even after closin' time! The only hitch in the plan was that Hazel was real tired, and Hoggette volunteered to drive her back to her hotel, and instead drove all the way to Virginia before they realized they had missed a turn! LOL! But, Hoggette made it back in time for some (slightly cold) pizza and some good conversation.
I set the electronal alarm clock in our hotel room to go off at 7:20, so's we'd have time to get dressed and have some breakfast before the big Mayberry Days parade that started at 9:00 Saturdey mornin'! But I kinda messed up. I didn't notice that the "pm" light was on when I set the alarm, so 7:20am came and went without even a hint from that stupid electronal marvel that we was over-sleepin'! But my darlin' Martha woke up at 8:42am and give me a nudge, and I BOUNDED outta bed and got dressed real quick, then screamed downtown just in time to catch the parade! I recorded it on video and took some snapshots with my free hand. I don't know how either will turn out, but at least I made it! The family will see the parade via video and pictures for the first time after ever'thang gets back to normal in the Hollister household.
We checked outta our hotel that mornin' since we was leavin' that afternoon, then we took one more trip downtown. We stopped in a book store there and looked around for awhile. We was about to leave when Martha says to me, "Who is that over there signin' books?" LO and BEHOLD, it was none other than "Professor" Neal Brower, and he was signin' his brand-new book, Mayberry 101. Well, I went up to the ladies at the check-out stand and bought me one'a his new books. One of 'em slipped the receipt inside the book and told me that I'd need to stand in line for Neal to sign it. I went to the tail-end of the line, and who do you think I run into there? Remember Gilly Walker who posted at the Porch awhile back? Yep. He saw my nametag that **Barn had made for each of us, and he asked if I was the *Rafe Hollister who posted on the Porch. I said that I was, and he interduced himself, and told me that he hadn't been back in awhile 'cause he was busy. It was nice meetin' another Porchster, though! I hope he's able to come back and see us!
Well, I finally got up to the counter where Neal was signin', and he looks at my nametag and says, "*Rafe Hollister, huh? I included Rafe Hollister Sings in my book. I hope you enjoy it." And we talked some more about his book, and him meeting Jack Prince (the actor who portrayed Rafe), and about where me and my family was from (he couldn't hardly believe that we drove all the way from Dallas!), and we just had a nice time. I shook his hand, and Martha got our pitcher together, and ever'thang! Now here's the STRANGE part: After we left the store and I started lookin' through the book, I found that the lady at the check-out counter had put the receipt inside the book on the exact page where the episode Rafe Hollister Sings is discussed! Weird, huh? Well, I thought so.
It was lunchtime by now, and since we had already eaten at the Snappy Lunch the day before, we decided to give the Bluebird Diner a try. It was good, too! We had kind of a long wait for a table, but the crispy chicken sandwiches and onion rings we had were worth the wait! Zach was getting tired by now, but we didn't have a hotel room to go back to, so we decided to just drive around the countryside for awhile and let him nap in his car seat. It worked! He had himself a good nap while we drove up to Virginia and then back down into Mount Airy via a different route.
We got back into town in time for me to make the 3:30 presentation at the downtown cinema by Neal Brower. He presented a show called "Seldom Scenes" that included some prologs, and some epilogs, and some other scenes in TAGS that just aren't shown that often, 'cause the stations (or Viacom) cut 'em out. He made comments about them as well, and offered insights into the writers' experiences that he got from interviews he did with them. It was just a real good show! Too bad it had to end, but end it did.
I met the rest of the family back at the van (the little woman and the kids had decided to go shoppin' while I was listenin' to Neal), and we said good-bye to Mayberry. There was so much more we would like to have done, but it will have to wait for another time. All I can say is that Mount Airy has captured a piece of our hearts, and we'll always cherish the times we had there. I can't wait to go back, and I hope to see you all there when we return! Mayberry may be a state of mind, but having a real place on the map that can be used as a reference is also a comfort to those who love Mayberry and the people in it.