First Posted: 9/23/2009
Last year, you made a special and unexpected appearance at Mayberry Days in which you told us and Emmett Forrest (through a letter and voice recording) how proud you were that we are building a museum in your honor.
On Tuesday, the most incredible thing happened, a little less than a year later it was finished.
I saw your lifes work on the walls of your museum. I got cold chills to see Emmett Forrest watching it all take place. This was most certainly, and without a doubt, a history-making moment.
Emmett has amassed such a wonderful collection of your work. I now understand why he was named Keeper of the Flame, because through him and his extensive efforts, those who love you and The Andy Griffith Show will have a place to remember all of it, forever.
As I stood in the museum for the first time, I felt the overwhelming feeling that something bigger than me, our town and even you was happening. People will come from near and far to get a glimpse of the little town called Mayberry.
It took the dedication of so many to see the dream come true. Some people doubted where it should be placed. They disliked the way it looked, they said it was a big boxy building with no windows. But Andy, I can tell you without a doubt, that as I walked down the winding path of granite and into the lobby of the brand new museum, its exactly right.
Its perfect, and it will only improve with time and more funding.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who dedicated themselves to the process of seeing the project through.
To Michella Huff and Chip Calloway, whose landscaping transformed the mud pit surrounding the building into an amazing garden, thank you.
To the buildings designer, Chris Price, who saw the vision of the light coming through the glass in the lobby, I have to say you are right the light streaming in through the front entrance is artwork unto itself. When you are inside the space it does not feel like a building with no windows. Its bright and airy. And besides, sunlight is damaging to archival artwork.
To Bill Johnson and Jerry Coram of J.G. Coram, Inc., thank you so much for building the museum so quickly in a year with 30 rain days. You guys are my heroes. Not to mention that you got in a beautiful finishing touch, the lobby full of granite tiles that were laid on a weekend. Good job!
To interior designers Neal Fine and Rob Hildebrand, thank you for donating your services to make the inside of the space so beautiful.
I have been a lifelong fan of The Andy Griffith Show. Watching the show always brings me back to a simpler time. A time when less was more, good overcame evil and friendships lasted a lifetime. Thats why everyone loves the show so much. I have traveled many places and I know for a fact, theres no place like home. Im just lucky enough to live in a place called Mayberry.
So to you Andy, I want to say thank you so much for saying that Mount Airy truly is the real Mayberry. It means the world to me and everyone here who is as grateful as I am to call you our hometown hero.
I wish you could have been here with us to see the unveiling of your beautiful, most magnificent work of art. I know you are here with us in your heart.
Thank you, Andy Griffith, for enriching our lives so much with your talent and your vision. I hope that with the museum and the continued efforts of the Surry Arts Council, we will continue to make you proud to call Mount Airy home.
To all of the fans of The Andy Griffith Show and all of its amazing characters, welcome to the 20th annual Mayberry Days and welcome home.
Mondee Tilley is a staff reporter at The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at [email protected] or at 719-1930.