Auburn was in the front pew of The Andy Griffith Show revival of the 1980s. An Auburn chapter of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club (Don’t Hit Your Granny With a Big Ole Stick) was started in 1983 or so (Randy Campbell was a member). Several Auburn players listed the show as their favorite in the football media guide; it was pretty much the only show included in the favorites that wasn’t still airing. When I called the Mt. Airy, NC tourism bureau—Mt. Airy is Andy Griffith’s hometown, and the town on which Mayberry is loosely based—before my grandparents took me there as a graduation present 10 years ago, the woman on the phone said “we always get a lot of people from Auburn.”
And of course there’s that line from Ed Hinton’s 1978 story about Auburn in the Atlanta Journal:
“The corner of Magnolia and College is a perfectly preserved microcosm of life in the ’30s. You can still park for a nickel an hour, at meters painted in stars and stripes. And you get the feeling that if you let the meter run out, Barney Fife will get you for sure.”
So when Don Knotts came to the Foy Union Ballroom to speak on April 24, 1985, it was a big deal—so big the Plainsman felt Biblical allusions were the best way to capture the mood of the 3,000 people in attendance.
“The Barneyphiles on campus were whispering the prophecy for weeks before the arrival. His limbs will be wiry, and his plan will be to go get a bottle of pop. And he shall come on Wednesday.”
“The crowd inside was frightening, chanting ‘Barn-ey, Barn-ey.’ A priest of the order of Mayberry was wandering through the crowd saying holy words “You beat everything, Barney, you know that.”
“He is the one, for he has spoken the words of the prophecy. Indeed, this man is truly Barney Fife,” the reporters whispered.
And the Glom paid tribute the best way the Glom knew how: Not just with a giant photo of his speech, but by making Knotts a member of Auburn’s senior class a la the pride of Rectum.
Eagle Eye Award: Kevin Bagwell.
Related: Bear Bryant’s lost year at Auburn.
* Brak listens to WEGL
* Former AU homecoming queen starring in HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’
* Bama fan legislator introduced bill to abolish Auburn University in 1973
* Auburn wore green jerseys… for two seasons
* Gus Malzahn, 1989
* Jeff Foxworthy walking around Auburn
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Michael Val Hietter says
I remember seeing Don at the then-new now-old Student Activities Building sometime in the mid-80’s, not the Foy Ballroom, unless that was a different appearance or different event at the same trip.
It was not at the Foy Ballroom…so many people showed up that they moved the event to the old Student Acts building. It was suppose to be at Foy but thousands showed up. I remembers folks sitting in the aisles. Great night of stories and memories from a great actor.
Elizabeth L Maness says
I was there watching and to this day say I am from Mayberry AKA Camden, Alabama. Glad Robert and Jimmy made us go early! I had a seat!