The southern country charm of slow town Sheriff Andy and his son, Opie. Good ole boy Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife quickly fumbling awkwardly with the unloaded gun on his sagging hip holster and pretentiously acting and talking in his signature high-pitched whine like he knows everything. Aunt Bea and her comfortable home cooking, especially her apple pies. The fictional, idealized Mayberry was a warm, welcoming, family place designed to emote the enveloping embrace of home. If you took the TV show seriously, you felt like you were home for the next 30 minutes.
A couple of months ago I drove my adult daughter to her first archery lesson. She had signed up with blind faith, having no foreknowledge of the facility or the organization that operated it. We arrived at a narrow, makeshift barn-like structure in the countryside and apprehensively walked through the creaky front door into a very unofficial but homey lobby populated with rustic picnic tables, an impressive collection of old trophies, and an array of classic archery paraphernalia hugging the walls. An army of upper-middle age women manning the small registration table kindly approached my daughter and showed genuine interest in her interest in archery, as if she belonged to them. Another crew of retired fathers from the same era gently walked her down to the indoor range at one end of the shallow barn and patiently started to explain to her how to hold a bow and line up an arrow. I remember glancing around the barn and sensing an inherent warmth that made me feel comfortable, kind of like visiting the eclectic old garage at my Grandpa’s house. Life was slow but kind here- the kind of life you rarely meet nowadays in today’s instant, internet world, except in classic movies and old TV sitcoms.
My mind stumbled for a moment- Wait a minute? Where was I? What do they call this place that I have trusted to offer archery lessons to my only daughter? I quickly scanned the walls for some semblance of identification, stopped on reading the plaque affixed to an old trophy, then smiled with satisfaction- “Mayberry Archers.” Of course.