Thursday, July 05, 2012
As a proud North Carolinian, it's pleased me to no end watching Andy Griffith get his due. Around here, he's kinda like ... Shakespeare. I was lucky enough to meet him in 2002, at the dedication of the Andy and Opie statue in Raleigh's Pullen Park. It was after the ceremonies and he was seated. I was among a number of news crews waiting to interview the seventy six year old legend. When it was my turn, I clipped the microphone on his lapel and told him my mother attended Goldsboro High School during the time he taught there. He nodded graciously and I got on with the business of the interview. With a long line of reporters and photogs behind me, I knew I didn't have much time, so I told him A) how much I loved what he had done for North Carolina and that B) whoever cancelled his short lived sci-fi series Salvage One had broken the heart of this nerdy twelve year old. The great man chuckled and I was soon shooed away by his handlers. I'm sure he forgot the encounter the moment another news crew approached, but it's certainly stuck with me. In his later years, Andy Griffith had a well-deserved reputation for surliness. Friends of mine who worked on Matlock in Wilmington tell stories of him giving no quarter to fool, lackeys and whoever else wandered into frame. But the day I met him, he was wizened and kindly, seemingly at peace with the fuss everyone was making about his landmark contribution to the old North State and to America's sense of decency.
What an honor to meet the man.