Here’s one from the “you can’t make up stuff like this” department:
The Andy Griffith Museum reopened Thursday after being closed for weeks due to a major makeover, and the first person to walk through the doors of the revamped facility just happens to be named Andy Mayberry (no lie).
As it turns out, the man known by the official title of Rep. Mayberry — who lives in Arkansas and serves in the state Legislature there — was swinging through Mount Airy with his wife Julie and their four children, ages 10 to 17. The family is on a summer vacation trip with Washington, D.C., as the main destination.
Now, one might expect that a man named Andy Mayberry is a big fan of “The Andy Griffith Show,” and one would be right.
And knowing Mount Airy was along the way between the family’s home in Hensley, Arkansas, and the nation’s capital, the group decided to make a side trip to this city and soak up atmosphere in the place known unofficially as Mayberry.
“The craziest thing”
Rep. Mayberry explained Thursday afternoon that he had never visited Mount Airy before and was unaware of the Griffith museum’s recent renovations. He basically had showed up out of the clear blue sky that morning at the Surry Arts Council complex which includes the museum.
And when council Executive Director Tanya Jones became aware of his presence, she thought it would be appropriate for Andy Mayberry to be the first visitor to set foot in the refurbished museum. Jones had planned its reopening for some point Thursday and after the family arrived, arranged to do so at noon with Mayberry walking through the doors.
“They’re our first official guests,” Jones proclaimed as the family began touring the facility boasting a new layout with electronic gadgetry and artful displays integrated with mementos from Griffith’s long show business career.
The Surry Arts Council official was understandably shocked by the totally spontaneous and coincidental development of Andy Mayberry’s arrival.
“It’s the craziest thing I have ever seen,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
Andy Mayberry was born in 1970, shortly after “The Andy Griffith Show” had captured the hearts of America through a unique brand of comedy that featured down-to-Earth characters and small-town values. His dad loved the program and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to name his son after one of its characters, paired with the Mayberry surname.
“I have lived with this name my entire life,” the Arkansas visitor said, recalling that it sometimes prompted teasing by classmates.
“It’s a good thing I’m a fan,” Mayberry said regarding the show and the attention he’s received because of his unique name. “I’ve been a huge fan of the series for years.”
Mayberry also is glad that he wound up with the fairly conventional moniker of Andy rather than other names from the series such as Goober or Opie.
In fast-forwarding to Thursday, Mayberry said it seemed to be one of those perfect-storm situations as the family paid a visit on the very day of the museum’s reopening.
“I have wanted to come here for many years and this was just an opportune moment,” said Mayberry, who owns an advertising firm in Arkansas. The family also publishes a small newspaper there, The East Ender.
“This is like a dream come true for us,” Julie Mayberry said, calling the family’s visit to Mount Airy a “bucket list” type of event.
Adding to the experience even more, the group booked accommodations at Andy Griffith’s Home Place on East Haymore Street, a bed and breakfast establishment occupying the house where the star lived as a child.
The family members seemed to enjoy their tour of the revamped museum, where Jones says some finishing touches await after its “soft” opening on Thursday. “We know we have at least eight more weeks of fine-tuning.”
She said the unexpected arrival of Andy Mayberry was truly special, “as have been many Mayberry moments.”
As for Andy Mayberry, he has but one regret about the whole thing:
“I only wish I had gotten to meet Andy Griffith.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.