Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show

Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show by Daniel de Vise Read Free Book Online

Book: Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show by Daniel de Vise Read Free Book Online
Authors: Daniel de Vise
Griffith was “a very pleasant one to be around,” Garnett recalled. Carl, thirty-one at Andy’s birth, was “much younger than most of the dads back then,” Garnett says. Carl and his only child spent a lot of time together. Andy would go to the furniture factory after school to work alongside Carl. Then, they would walk home together. “And we’d be just draggin’ along,” Andy recalled. “Finally, Dad would say, ‘We’d better hurry up. We’re gonna miss The Lone Ranger. ’ So we’d sit together by the radio.”
    When the Lone Ranger called, “Hi-yo, Silver, away!” Carl would cry, “Whoooeee!” That whoop was Carl’s signature. “If something really astounded him, or if he saw a really pretty woman, he’d do a whole-body take, go ‘Whoooeee!’—and he’d walk out of the room and come back and do it again,” Andy recalled.
    Andy picked up many of his father’s exaggerated Southern mannerisms and his rustic humor. Carl, more than anyone else, was the wellspring of Andy’s wit.
    â€œHe simply adored his father,” recalled Dixie, Andy’s daughter. “It feels to me that his work ethic and his perseverance and those things were a result, in a sense, of his father’s work ethic and perseverance, and his determination, and getting up and doing the grind. He had a great deal of respect for his father, and what he did, and how he did it. Granddaddy would have these little looks and little nods and little idiosyncrasies. And Daddy, he’d say, ‘This is how Granddaddy used to do it.’ ”
    Andy grew up in a deceptively matriarchal society. Half the women seemed to hold jobs in the hosiery mills; the other half ran large households. The fathers of Mount Airy, by contrast, were comparatively shiftless. “A lot of the men, like my daddy, stayed drunk all the time,” J. B. Childress recalled. “The ones who were sober worked in furniture mills.”
    Carl Griffith wasn’t a drunk, but he drank, and he may well have been an alcoholic. Later in life, Andy told Don of his heavily inebriated father wobbling into the room one night as the younger Griffith poured a drink and telling his son, “Ah need to have a talk with you about yer drinkin’,” before passing out cold on the floor himself.
    Yet, Carl was always a hard worker. Andy claimed his father had gone to work at age twelve to offset his own father’s gambling.
    While Andy adored his father, his relationship with Geneva was more complex. She sometimes seemed to manipulate Andy like a puppet, sewing his clothes, dictating his comings and goings, and locking him indoors at the first sign of dark or chill. She ruled the Griffith home.
    â€œThis’ll tell you as much about my mother as you need to know,” Andy once told an interviewer. Andy and his parents were sitting in a restaurant with the principals of The Andy Griffith Show . A waiter spilled something on Geneva’s suit. “Oh, she just went crazy,” Andy recalled. “Finally she said, ‘Carl, why couldn’t you have been setting here?’ That’s my mother.”
    Geneva Nunn Griffith came from Patrick County, Virginia, twenty miles east of Mount Airy in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a place sparsely populated to this day. To the Griffith home she brought a tradition of spirited mountain jam sessions. “They used to have what they call play parties, dances,” Andy recalled. “The Nunns, they all played, fiddle or something.”
    Andy was veritably surrounded by music. A steady pulse of country-western hits blared from the family’s Majestic radio. Sunday mornings were filled with hand-clapping, head-swaying gospel at Haymore Baptist Church, where Andy would take careful note of the fire-and-brimstone sermons. The Griffiths spent many summer evenings swept up in the sweaty delirium of tent revivals, led

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