Sunday, May 06, 2012

Goodbye, Goober

My family got a TV in time for me to see some of the Andy Griffith Show episodes when they were still in prime time.

But I have had to watch most of the episodes in syndicated reruns.

That's OK because, really, like any truly good TV show, the stories are timeless. The fact that I didn't see most of the episodes when they first aired takes nothing away from them.

I still laugh when I see Don Knotts doing his side–splitting physical comedy as Deputy Barney Fife. And I marvel at the realistic portrayals of Andy's relationships with his son and Aunt Bee.

And I appreciate the presentations of the folks in Mayberry — Floyd the barber, Gomer and Goober Pyle. They could have been inspired by real people I knew when I was growing up in a small Southern town that probably had a lot in common with Mayberry.

Certainly, I knew one or two folks who were a lot like Goober Pyle, played by George Lindsey, who died early this morning at the age of 83.

Lindsey actually had a fairly lengthy career, and much of what he did on the Andy Griffith Show really was inspired by people he observed growing up in rural Alabama.

Before landing the role of Goober, he appeared on such TV shows as Twilight Zone and The Rifleman. When Andy Griffith ended its run, he continued the role on Mayberry R.F.D., then spent a couple of decades on Hee Haw.

I have a friend with whom I speak Goober. Independently of each other, we noticed how Goober would often say "Say it again" to someone who said something to him that had one or more multi–syllabic words.

And we both laughed whenever he did his Cary Grant impression — "Judy! Judy! Judy!"

Even though he was mostly a supporting character, Lindsey played a key role in daily life in Mayberry, and, even though he was something of a simpleton, Goober had some admirable qualities that one doesn't often find in TV characters anymore.

He was honest, sincere, even a bit naive (but that was OK). He didn't think he knew it all, and he didn't pretend to know things when he didn't (except for once rather late in the series when Goober, who had struggled to speak up in an adult education class he had been taking with his Mayberry friends, returned from a hunting trip with a new but still full beard that gave him the confidence to dominate conversations).

Sounds like he had those qualities in his everyday life.

He will be missed.