Andy: What'd ya get `em?
Barney: A septic tank.
Andy: For their anniversary?
Barney: They're awful hard to buy for. Besides, it was something they can use. They were really thrilled. It had two tons of concrete in it. All steel reinforced.
Andy: You're a fine son, Barn.
Barney: I try.
As a TV Guide reporter put it in a 1963 article on the show's popularity: "Such dialogue — read with sly amusement by Griffith, unflinching earnestness by Knotts — demands an extraordinarily high degree of comedy acting and a solid grasp of the subtleties of character."
Considered the driving force behind the series, Griffith was heavily involved with the show's production and helped shape the scripts and characterizations.
George Lindsey, who joined the series in 1965 as Goober, told The Times in 1993: "He is probably the best script constructionist that ever was." Griffith, he added, "made you operate at 110% because you brought yourself up to his level."
Ron Howard, who grew up to become one of Hollywood's top directors, considered Griffith "like a wonderful uncle to me."
Griffith "created an atmosphere of hard work and fun that I try to bring to my movies," Howard told People magazine in 1986.
When Griffith and most of the major cast members reunited for "Return to Mayberry" in 1986, it was one of the highest-rated TV movies of the year.
"The backbone of our show was love," Griffith once said. "There's something about Mayberry and Mayberry folk that never leaves you."
The small-town atmosphere depicted in Mayberry wasn't far from Griffith's own boyhood in Mount Airy, N.C., a small town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he was born June 1, 1926.
An only child, Griffith grew up singing and playing guitar with his mother. He learned to tell funny stories from his father, who earned a modest living at the Mount Airy Furniture Co.
Griffith majored in music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and dreamed of becoming a professional singer on stage. On a whim, he auditioned for a campus production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Gondoliers."
"I loved it," Griffith recalled in a 1996 National Public Radio interview. "I had two songs, two solos. I got good reviews. It said I had good timing and so I played the comedy leads in all the Gilbert and Sullivans they did while I was there."
After graduating in 1949, Griffith taught music at a high school in Goldsboro, N.C. But he and his first wife, Barbara, a singer and musician who had been a member of the university drama group, continued acting in North Carolina's famous annual outdoor drama, "The Lost Colony," on Roanoke Island.
After receiving a negative comment about his singing at one audition, Griffith abandoned his dream of a singing career. Not wanting to teach anymore, he wrote a few jokes and did his first monologue, which he delivered in a thick Southern accent.