Monday, June 18, 2012

Mayberry Mondays #45: “The Mayberry Road” (02/16/70, prod. no. 0219)

This week’s installment of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s popular Mayberry Mondays feature promises to be a good one.  For starters, despite his inclusion in the “The Mayberry Road” credits at the IMDb (he’s also mentioned in the opening credits of my copy), village idiot Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) has the week off…so those of you not particularly enamored of Mr. Pyle can rejoice.  (I know I said last week that the whole gang shows up for this one…but I was misinformed.  It is possible that Goober appeared in footage that was snipped for syndication, but I just don’t see where he would fit in the overall scheme of the episode, so I remain a skeptic on that score.)  Secondly, for those of you who may have followed the exchange of ideas between myself, BBFF Stacia and TDOY commenter Chris Vosburg in the comments section of “Goober’s Brother,” there is more than meets the eye in these Mayberry R.F.D. repeats; they are highly-charged political treatises with captivating sociological ramifications as well.  (I have no idea what this means, by the way—but it must mean something, since I used big words.)

“The Mayberry Road” opens on a road in Mayberry—but is not the interchange of the title.  Plans are being made for a cutoff that will connect Mayberry’s Elm Street to the highway leading to Mt. Pilot, shortening the lengthy drive to the superior town by 3-4 miles.  We learn of this as poor-but-honest dirt farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry) explains the situation to his diabolically evil housekeeper, Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (Frances Bavier), and his idiot son Mike (Buddy Foster), after making a stop along the thoroughfare so that nature child Bee can drink in the beauty.

AUNT BEE: Mmm…you know, we take so many things in life for granted—like Grover’s Woods here—without really stopping to appreciate them…
MIKE: You mean the trees…
AUNT BEE: Mm-hmm… (Inhaling) Smell that woodsy smell…that’s the most wonderful smell in the world…
MIKE (after taking a sniff): They just smell like trees

Never a colony of bullet ants around when you need one.

SAM: Well, you’d better appreciate this while you can…you know, this is where the county is putting in that new cutoff…

And that’s when Sam drops the bombshell about the new road…which leaves Aunt Bee in her usual state of looking sad and concerned.

AUNT BEE: You mean they’re going to cut down these beautiful trees?
SAM: Well, yeah…at least enough for the road…probably take a strip about forty or fifty feet wide…
AUNT BEE: Oh, dear
MIKE: Aunt Bee?
MIKE: When you’re through smelling…do you think we could go home?

Bee…the kid has no breadcrumbs with him.  It would be that damn easy.  Aunt Bee is inconsolable about the trees, despite Sam’s insistence that “I guess the county feels a new road is more important.”

“Well, I don’t see why,” she replies with finality…and with that—an environmentalist is born.

With a scene change, we find Aunt Bee addressing the members of Mayberry’s Garden Club, a radical environmentalist group who…nah, I’m just making that up.  They’re a bunch of old biddies who like flowers and sh*t.

AUNT BEE: So I’ve called you here to see if you feel the same way I do…about the state cutting that road through Grover’s Woods…now I’m giving you the facts—who’s with me?  In trying to halt this latest step…in the desecration of our woodland areas?

One woman who is not with Aunt Bee (at first, anyway) is this character played by veteran character thesp Maudie Prickett…whose best-known television showcase is probably that of Rosie Hammaker, the best friend of “domestic engineer” Hazel Burke (Shirley Booth) on the long-running sitcom Hazel.  Prickett had a lengthy, often uncredited film career (among the movies you can spot her in are Colorado Territory, Harvey and Monkey Business) but her TV resume was much more extensive, with recurring roles on such series as the early Betty White sitcom Date with the Angels and The Jack Benny Show (she played his tart-tongued secretary, Miss Gordon).  Prickett’s four stints as Edna Larch on The Andy Griffith Show and her previous appearance on R.F.D. as Lydia in the episode “The Church Bell” will no doubt confuse a few people (like me) but Toby O’Brien has asked me not to stare, so I won’t.  (I do want to say, though…I like that hat.)

MYRTLE: Now, Bee…I love nature just as much as you do…but this new road might be worth it…actually, it’s only a mile long…it wouldn’t involve that many trees!
ELSIE: That’s right!  It isn’t exactly the Sequoia National Park

The woman who has summoned up the intestinal fortitude to speak out against Aunt Bee’s defiance of the powers-that-be is played by Mary Lou Taylor, whose TV appearances include guest shots on Gunsmoke, The Invaders, The Andy Griffith Show and My World and Welcome to It.  Her scant entertainment resume might have been the result of the bitch-slapping she’s about to get from Aunt Bee.

AUNT BEE: Elsie…Myrtle…I know this is not an official meeting…

“So I’m going to dispense with this ‘sergeant-at-arms’ nonsense and just get medieval on your asses…”

AUNT BEE: …so I’d like to sum this up…to me, Grover’s Woods has always been Mayberry Sequoia National Park…a place of beauty…and peace…and those trees are a symbol of this quiet little town’s stand against crass commercialism!

Day-amm, Aunt Bee!  The seeds of Occupy Mayberry have been sown!  (I wonder if she’ll feel the same way when she’s late for an appointment in Mt. Pilot and is sad and concerned about how the fershlugginer highway is inadequate for Mayberry’s burgeoning transportation needs.)

MYRTLE: But…if the county has made their plans…how are we going to fight it?
AUNT BEE: By sending a responsible member from our City Council…

Funniest.  Line.  Ever.

AUNT BEE: …directly to the County Commissioner of Highways in Mt. Pilot
MYRTLE: How about Lawyer Hobbs?

This one made me stifle a giggle, too—because I’ve noticed (particularly in B-westerns) that characters always refer to a person’s occupation as though it was their first name.  We have a situation sort of like this in my neck of the woods; the local Atlanta TV station runs a barrage of ads for a lawyer referred to as “Attorney Skip Wilson”—so much so that my father and I are convinced “Skip” is his middle name.

MYRTLE: He’s the one who kept that New York firm from building the bowling alley next to the Methodist church

Two items that need to be addressed here: first, once again we observe that the makeup of Mayberry’s city council changes at the whim of the writers in practically every episode; let’s face it—the only councilman we ever actually saw elected to office was Sam, and that took place on The Andy Griffith Show.  (For reasons that are unknown to me, R.F.D.’s writing staff never attempted an episode showing any member of the council running for re-election, which leads me to believe this outfit was run a lot like the Politburo.)  But since we said goodbye to token black resident Ralph Barton (Charles Lampkin) in last week’s episode, perhaps this Hobbs guy filled Ralph’s seat in a special election.

Oh, and the other thing…”The Mayberry Road” welcomes back Mayberry’s resident bluenose Clara Edwards (Hope Summers), whom we have not seen since “The Church Play.”  (Clara will turn up in a later episode, “The Mayberry Float,” which is one of my particular favorites mostly because of some first-rate slapstick hi-jinks…that, granted, will be a little difficult to describe here.)  On The Andy Griffith Show, Clara was Aunt Bee’s best bud and confidant but their friendship must have cooled by the time R.F.D. hit the airwaves because of the five installments in which the Clara character appears, this is the only one that has both her and Aunt Bee in the same episode.

CLARA: Oh, I’m not so sure about Mr. Hobbs, Myrtle…after all, because a man is anti-bowling does not automatically make him pro-forest
AUNT BEE: Ladies—I have given this considerable thought…and I think the man to carry out battle or protest to the county seat…is the head of the council, Sam Jones…

Elsie then timidly asks if such a request might not interfere with Sam’s work on the farm…prompting the rest of the club to laugh hysterically, and then break out the elderberry wine or whatever those women do after the meeting is adjourned.

No…I made that part up…but Aunt Bee does get a lovely round of applause, and the scene shifts to our budding eco-activist strolling down Mayberry’s thoroughfare, stopping to chat with fix-it savant Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman)—who is washing down the windows of his establishment in a rare burst of activity—after he greets her by name.

AUNT BEE: Emmett, is Sam in his office?
EMMETT: Yeah, I think so…something important?

Aunt Bee continues on in the direction of the council office…and since this is Mayberry, Emmett drops what he’s doing to follow her.  Bee then greets pedantic county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) without breaking stride, and when Emmett catches up to Howard he tells him that “she wants to speak to Sam about something important.”

HOWARD: Like what?
EMMETT: I don’t know…come on!

Sam is engrossed in the act of putting a new ribbon on the office typewriter when Aunt Bee enters, followed by Frick and Frack.

AUNT BEE: Sam…the ladies of the Garden Club Action Committee have unanimously chosen you to spearhead our fight against the Mayberry cutoff…
SAM (looking up): What?
AUNT BEE: …now we feel that by saving those trees in Grover’s Woods, Mayberry will be contributing to saving our world of natural beauty…
EMMETT: But can’t you ladies of the Garden Club save the world just as well foolin’ around with your roses and snapdragons and stuff?

I’d like to be able to say that Aunt Bee plants her high heel in a sweet spot covered by Emmett’s fix-it apron, condemning him to a career of singing mezzo soprano in the church choir.  But as usual, we aren’t that lucky.

AUNT BEE: That, Emmett Clark, is the kind of thinking that leads to ecological suicide

“You chauvinist porker…”  Emmett looks up at Howard to get a translation and is told, “She’s referring to the balance of nature…”

SAM: Look…Aunt Bee…I like trees just as much as the next guy…

“Provided the next guy isn’t Emmett…”

SAM: …but it seems to me that this new road is just a normal step in the progress of the community…
AUNT BEE: Sam…don’t you read?  Don’t you know there’s a battle raging on behalf of conservation?  Saving our natural resources!
HOWARD: Yeah, and it’s not just the forests and the trees…but it’s the animals and everything…as a matter of fact, I was just reading the other day where they’re trying to raise funds to preserve the African lion from extinction!
EMMETT: Well, what would they want to save lions for?  Tear you apart, those cats!

This is why I dismiss any evidence that Goober was in this episode.  Emmett is doing enough of the heavy lifting in the idiocy department.

AUNT BEE: Sam, I’m waiting for your answer…
SAM: Oh, Aunt Bee…I’m sure they took everything into consideration before they decided to put that road through there…
AUNT BEE: Oh, you mean you won’t take our case to the Highway Commissioner…

“No, I mean I’ve been bought off…and at quite the substantial sum.  Let’s face it, the money to run that fake farm of mine has to come from somewhere!”  Okay, I elaborated a teensy bit on Sam’s answer—he tells Aunt Bee he couldn’t do it in good conscience…which is not the sort of thing I would tell the person responsible for cooking my meals and who knows my home could burn with the ferocity of Hellfire if some gasoline-soaked rags were carefully placed in the cellar right next to that open gas heater. 

“Well, I wouldn’t want you to go against your principles…such as they are,” she responds, verbally kneeing him in the balls.  She flounces out of the office, announcing that she and her club will find someone else to plead their case—“somebody less cold-blooded…”

HOWARD: Sam…you’ve just been raked over the coals…

Raked nothing…she gutted him like a freakin’ sturgeon.

SAM: I guess…ah…Howard, the whole thing doesn’t make any sense to me!  Those…those county people are our elected officials!

“They would never even consider doing something that would do little more than line their graft-soaked pockets!”

HOWARD: Well, I don’t know…I think the girls may have a point—there are two sides to the question…
SAM: Well…
HOWARD: Both of them legitimate, too…there’s no doubt about that…conservation versus progress…hmm…well, I gotta get back to the office…

And to think I was worried Howard wasn’t going to get to say something funny in this episode.  Before he leaves, he asks Sam if he’s “asked Millie about tonight”—apparently Howard wants Sam and bakery goddess Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka) to double-date at the movies with him and an unnamed conquest.  Sam realizes he’s forgotten, so he decides to walk down to Boysinger’s before it slips his mind.  And guess who’s been giving Millie an earful at the bakery?

AUNT BEE: …and then he said straight out: “Some trees have to be cut down…”  Wasn’t as if we were talking about the price of eggs…we were talking about living, breathing trees…
MILLIE: I’m certainly surprised at Sam…I really am…
AUNT BEE: And then he says something about progress…he seems perfectly willing to stand by and see forty feet of trees cut through Grover’s Woods…

Well, I hope he’s got sense enough to get out of the way when he hears someone yell “Timber!”

AUNT BEE: In the interest of speed…that’s all it is—it’s just a shortcut
MILLIE: He’s always been so warm and sensitive…I…I just don’t understand!

Aunt Bee went into the bakery for half-a-dozen something or the other (they don’t specify what she asked for)…but from the looks of that bag, she asked for six sheet cakes…Aunt Bee is paying for her wares when Sam enters the bakery.

SAM: Hey, Millie…oh…hi, Aunt Bee…
AUNT BEE (coldly): Hello, Sam… (She then exits the bakery)

Word of advice, Samuel…let the kid taste dinner first.

SAM: Uh…Millie…Howard wants to know if you and I will go to the movies with…
MILLIE (angrily, with her arms folded): Why do you hate trees?
SAM: Oh…you’ve been talking to Aunt Bee, too…look…
MILLIE: Some people don’t like frogs…some people don’t like beetles

I don’t like spiders and snakes.  And that ain’t what it takes to love me…you fool, you fool.

MILLIE: …but to find a person…who has no regard for trees…is very rare…very rare indeed
SAM: Uh…did Aunt Bee also mention that there is a little matter of progress and development to be considered here?
MILLIE: I am not interested…
SAM: Oh, you’re not interested!  Oh, that is a typical woman for you…

Warning!  Warning!  Danger, Samuel Jones!  Seriously, dude…you need to get that kid of yours out of the house—I think his stupidity is contagious

SAM: You only want to hear one side of it!
MILLIE: There is only one side…a tree is a very beautiful thing…

Wow, Millie…that’s…just…wow…can I have another one of those “special” brownies?

SAM (angrily): Do you want to go to the movies tonight?
MILLIE: I’ll let you know
SAM: When?
MILLIE: When I feel like it…
SAM: When will you feel like it?
MILLIE: When I do

See, I have been saying all along that Aunt Bee is an evil force to be reckoned with, despite the occasional stray e-mail that says “Stop picking on that poor lady.”  We then dissolve to a scene where Sam is supervising young Mike in the trimming of hedges.  I’m convinced that Sam may finally be taking my advice on the extermination of the little mook, because giving him sharp, pointy objects is just asking for trouble.

SAM: Fine…fine…
AUNT BEE (walking over to where the two of them are working): What is that you’re doing, Michael?
MIKE: Pa let me try the clippers!
SAM: Yeah—he’s a big help!
AUNT BEE: Oh…your father is indoctrinating you at a tender age, I must say…

“Gloriously, Comrade Beatrice, gloriously!”

MIKE: Huh?
AUNT BEE: In the art of destroying nature…first it’s the bushes, then the hedges…finally full-grown trees
MIKE: Am I doing something wrong, Pa?

“It’s okay, son…Millie had these brownies down at the bakery, and…”

SAM: No, you’re not doing anything wrong, Mike…we have to trim these hedges back or we wouldn’t be able to use the driveway
AUNT BEE: It depends on your point of view, Michael…some very unfeeling people lay waste to the land in the name of progress
SAM: Aunt Bee!
AUNT BEE: You’ll learn that when you study history and men like…uh…Attila the Hun
SAM: Oh, come on now!
AUNT BEE: Well, it’s true…

Pure dagnasty evil.

SAM: Aunt Bee…I just don’t happen to feel that that road through Grover’s Woods is that big a deal!

“Now…the right-of-way through Big Bird’s Meadow is another matter entirely…”

AUNT BEE: Very well, Sam—but you don’t need to defend your fanatical beliefs by shouting
SAM (shouting): I am not… (His voice lowers) Oh, okay…okay…you win…in spite of my…fanatical beliefs, and my…hatred of nature…I’ll do it…
AUNT BEE: Do what, Sam?
SAM: I’ll take your protest to the Highway Commissioner…on behalf of you and the ladies of the Garden Club…
AUNT BEE: Oh, that’s very considerate of you, Sam…I’m sure the ladies will appreciate it…
SAM: Hmm…
AUNT BEE: …but I can’t think what made you change your mind…

“Oh, I don’t know…maybe it was because of your steadfast refusal to get off my freakin’ back?!!!”  Aunt Bee, turning to go back into the house, tells Sam that they’ll set up an appointment with the Commissioner…”And, of course…we’ll brief you beforehand on the exact stand we’ll take.”

“Good,” answers Sam, as his son reaches for a paper bag to place over head, fearing the shame that will soon greet him on the streets of Mayberry.  Hey, let’s hear from our sponsor!

Back from the General Foods break, we’re treated to a Mayberry R.F.D. anomaly: a somewhat amusing scene between Emmett and Howard in the fix-it shop, where the Grand Exalted Repair Wizard himself has just finished work on an alarm clock belonging to Mistah Sprague:

EMMETT (brandishing the clock): Here you are…good as new…sorry it took so long to get to it…

“Well, I realize how frightfully busy you are, resting your ass on city benches and all…”

HOWARD: Oh, that’s all right…just as long as it’s fixed…
EMMETT: Yeah…now…uh…what time do you get up in the mornin’?
HOWARD: Seven, usually…

“I make it a point to rise bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in order to be on time for my soul-crushing job in city government…”

EMMETT: Well, let’s check ‘er out now… (He fiddles with the hands of the clock) There you are…seven…just plug ‘er in…now…turn the hands around to seven…here you go…six o’clock in the mornin’, now here we come right up to…uh…there you go, seven… (The alarm does not ring) Seven…seven… (The alarm still doesn’t ring) Seven…uh…seven… (Emmett then turns the hands to eight o’clock, and the alarm goes off) Wouldn’t like to stay in bed an extra hour, would ya?

I love Dodson’s Oliver Hardy-like facial expression here.  Every episode…one laugh-out-loud moment.

HOWARD: No I wouldn’t
EMMETT: Well, there’s no problem…if you want to get up for seven, just set it for six!
HOWARD: Boy, some fine fix-it man
EMMETT: Howard, there are some things that are just beyond science…take it or leave it…

Millie enters the fix-it shop with a smile and a greeting…

MILLIE: Did you hear the news?
HOWARD: What’s that?
MILLIE: That Sam has agreed to talk to the Highway Commissioner for the Garden Club!
HOWARD: Oh, he did, huh…?
EMMETT: I don’t get him at all…one day he says one thing, the next day he changes his mind…

Yeah…I mean, it’s not like the guy’s a politician or anything…

MILLIE: No!  He didn’t change his mind, Emmett…he told me that even if he disagrees with the club, the protest should be heard…so…he’ll make the presentation…
HOWARD: Hmm…hey, you know—I’m not so sure those women are wrong, either…
MILLIE: Well…wrong or right, at least he’s seeing that the women get a fair hearing… (To Emmett) Is my toaster ready?
HOWARD (scoffing in disgust): Good luck

Howard exits the fix-it shop, and Millie turns back to Emmett with a quizzical look.  “You just can’t satisfy some customers,” he philosophizes on the shoddy quality of his work.

The scene then shifts to the office of the Highway Commissioner, who I will introduce to you via a later close-up…

…it’s character great Ned Wertimer, who’ll you no doubt recognize as the actor who played doorman Ralph Hart on the 1975-84 sitcom The Jeffersons.  (It’s interesting to note that in playing the Commissioner known as “Osborne,” Wertimer’s demeanor is not unlike that of his Jeffersons character--schmoozing Sam, Aunt Bee and Clara so much it’s like he’s expecting a gratuity.)  Wertimer also guest-starred on many TV shows (including McMillan & Wife and Mary Tyler Moore), and appeared in such films as The Impossible Years, Bad Company and Mame.

OSBORNE: I can’t tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to our little visit…hold my calls, will you, Wickes?  I want to give these good folks my undivided attention…

He’s either angling for a tip or re-election…I can’t decide which.

OSBORNE: Now then…who’s going to do the talking?  You, Mr. Jones or…one of these charming ladies…
AUNT BEE: Mr. Jones is going to be our spokesman…

Sam goes through a spiel that was obviously rehearsed beforehand, and it’s actually kind of funny because you sort of expect him to say “The End” when he’s finished.

SAM: Uh…Mr. Commissioner…I am here on behalf of the ladies of the Mayberry Garden Club…who wish to voice a protest against the construction of the new Mayberry Road…w-with the resultant loss…of so many…beautiful, majestic trees in Grover’s Woods…to say nothing of the flora and fauna…
OSBORNE: Yes…well…I can understand your concern…
SAM: Uh…although there are a limited number of trees involved…the ladies feel that these trees represent…all of the trees in all of the great wilderness areas in our beloved country…and would like to preserve these trees…in…uh…
CLARA (sotto voce): In all their grandeur…
SAM: …in all their grandeur…as living and breathing symbols of Mayberry’s dedication…to the principle of conservation…

Yes, that’s a very pretty speech and all, Samuel…but Osborne is a pragmatic, officious sort, and he pulls down a wall map to demonstrate to the meddlesome busy bodies in his office that in cutting down the trees it will shave 3 miles off the driving time…

AUNT BEE (sotto voce to Sam): Tell him about the squirrels…
SAM: What?
AUNT BEE: The squirrels
CLARA: Mr. Osborne…do you know the squirrel count of Grover’s Woods?
OSBORNE: No, I don’t…offhand…
CLARA: Well, our nature group has estimated that the squirrel population is at least fifty per acre!
AUNT BEE: And they all live in those beautiful trees you propose to chop down
CLARA: With hundreds of wood finch as their neighbors!
OSBORNE: Ladies…ladies, I appreciate your coming here today…but…I would be shirking my responsibility to the good citizens of this county if the road did not go through as planned…
AUNT BEE: But, Mr. Osborne…it doesn’t have to go through there…
OSBORNE: I’m sorry… (His voice gets louder) I’m sorry!
AUNT BEE (pleading): It doesn’t have to go through…
OSBORNE (practically yelling to drown out Aunt Bee): I’m sorry!  But Operation Shortcut must proceed on the eighth of the month as planned!

Aunt Bee and Clara, pissed at being dismissed as a couple of letter-to-the-editor-writing cranks, leave Osborne’s office in contempt and frustration.  Sam soon follows them out, after a funny “Well, that went well” reaction to Osborne.

You probably think that this is the end of the episode, which has imparted the timeworn philosophy that “You can’t fight City Hall.”  Well, this is different (it’s more like County Hall, for starters)…and though it would be so easy if Clara were just to wave a hand and transform Osborne into a common garden slug, Aunt Bee has decided to mobilize without black magic:

AUNT BEE (on the telephone): I knew that you’d feel the same way that Clara and I do, Elsie…so we’re going to call the girls together and have an emergency meeting…and this must be a secret…

Oh…looks like I was mistaken…they’re bringing in the entire coven on this one.

AUNT BEE: Because this is war!

Then it's war!
Then it's war!
Gather the forces!
Harness the horses!
Then it's war!
Mayberry's going to war
Each gal will grab a gun
And run away to war.
At last we're going to
(Feet will beat along Elm Street to war)
We're going to war
Mayberry's going to war
Mayberry 's going to war
Mayberry 's going to war

This is a fact we can't ignore…they're going to war…hi-de, hi-de hi-de, hi-de ho.  There is then a quick cut to a bulldozer, which is being shouted at by a foreman played by former-boxer-turned-thespian Hal Baylor.  (Baylor is the pugilist who goes up against Robert Ryan’s Stoker Thompson in the noir classic The Set-Up.)  Emmett’s car can be seen pulling up in the space where the bulldozer was, and Osborne confers with the foreman (who answers to “Frank”) on the clear-cutting progress.  Humorously, the men suddenly realize they’ve been joined by Emmett.

FRANK (pointing off into the distance): Right here, Mr. Osborne…
OSBORNE: Yes, that will work out fine…
EMMETT: I don’t see any draining snakes
EMMETT (laughing): I’m Emmett Clark from Mayberry…always interested in these kinds of engineering problems…
OSBORNE: You are…?
EMMETT: Yeah!  Heh…you see, I’m in a related field…Emmett’s Fix-It Shop…

Now…this doesn’t sound as silly as it might on a first reading.  Construction workers often spend large amounts of time standing around trying to look busy—how is that different from anything Emmett does in the course of an eight-hour workday?  Oh, this guy standing next to Osborne…

…was addressed previously as “Wickes,” but he’s played by actor Raymond Kark.  It was bugging the hell out of me trying to figure out where I knew him from when it suddenly dawned on me he’s “Homer Watson,” the long arm of law enforcement in Eagle Rock, Iowa—the town that tries to quit smoking for thirty days in one of my all-time favorite film comedies, Cold Turkey.

Where was I?  Oh, right…Emmett is pestering the work crew.  Then Sam, Millie and Mike pull up in Sam’s car, with Millie getting Emmett’s attention by yelling his name a few dozen times.

EMMETT: Uh, this is the day they start the new road…I thought I’d drop out here this morning and sort of keep my eye on the big equipment…

Oh, sure…he could have spent productive time fixing Howard’s alarm clock…but a man must set priorities.

SAM: Oh…well, we were on our way to Mt. Pilot to do some shopping…I forgot they were starting today…
EMMETT: Oh, they’ll start clearing the trees any minute now…
MIKE: Hey, Pa…can we watch ‘em?

“Sure, Mike! Walk right over directly in front of that noisy, moving bulldozer and whisper to the driver if he needs help!”

SAM: No…I don’t think it will be all that interesting, Mike…
EMMETT (looking off in the distance): I wouldn’t be too sure about that…hey—look over there!

And so they came.  From towns like Siler City and Weaverville.  All eligible spinsters answering the call of their county in its time of need.

EMMETT: Would you look at those women!
MIKE: Hey, and look who else!

Howard gets out of one of the cars…demonstrating that Emmett had it right the first time.  Carrying signs and placards that read “Osborne Go Home” and “We Are the 99%,” Aunt Bee, Clara, Myrtle and the rest of the Garden Club begin to march toward where Osborne and his men are standing.  “Oh, Sam,” squeals Millie, “we’ve got to stay and see this!”

AUNT BEE (confronting Osborne): Mr. Osborne…we protest this road…in the name of trees and wilderness everywhere!
OSBORNE (unctuously): Miss Taylor…ladies…I am duly taking note of your well-meant protest…but this work must go ahead, so if you’ll please just…stand back…let ‘em go, Frank!
FRANK (yelling): Charlie, fire it up…let’s go!

Charlie guns his ‘dozer and starts to move toward the area where Bee and her protesters are standing.  If Charlie was one of the those guys mowing down Palestinian settlements, the group would soon be laid to rest underneath the very trees they’re trying to save…but fortunately, our hero Sam steps out in front of the machine and yells at Charlie to “shut that thing off!” in time to stop the potential carnage.

The protesters start up a “Save our trees” chant, and Millie beams: “I’ve never seen anything like this!”

“It’s like Valley Forge,” returns Emmett…and he would probably know.

OSBORNE (yelling to be heard above the wrong): Mr. Jones…you’re head of the town council…can’t you call them off?
SAM: Sorry, Commissioner…I’ve dealt with these ladies… (Indicating Howard) And this gentleman before…when they make up their minds to do something, they mean it!
CLARA (calming them down): Ladies…fellow tree lovers…and Commissioner Osborne…to express our determination in verse…here is Bee Taylor—who will read a poem by Mayberry’s own Howard Sprague…

The poet laureate of Mayberry generates a few laughs during Bee’s recitation of his poem, alternately beaming and mouthing the words along as she reads.

I hope Mayberry never sees
A road whose asphalt kills the trees
The trees which stand in Grover’s Woods
And grow in leafy brotherhood
Their windswept branches sing their hymns
To squirrels and toads beneath their limbs
Highways are made by heartless folk
But only nature can make an oak

Sounds to me like “Mayberry’s own Howard Sprague” borrowed a bit of his poem from New Brunswick’s (Alfred) Joyce Kilmer.  But he might have had a deadline to meet, so…  Aunt Bee and Howard’s poem gets a nice round of applause from the group, prompting Commissioner Osborne to once again try pleading his case.

OSBORNE: Please…please, Mr. Jones…isn’t there anything you can do?
SAM: I’m sorry, Commissioner…no…looks like you’re going to have to come up with a solution to this problem…

“But…but…government solving problems?  The implications alone would be staggering!”  Well, Ozzy should get a little credit…he’s able to put a stop to the “Save our trees” chant by addressing the crowd: “Due to the…sincere and heartfelt…protests of you good people…the county…will…postpone Operation Shortcut…temporarily…while it…looks into the matter further…”

Cheers and high-fives all around…which is exactly how government rarely works in real life.  There is then a dissolve to Osborne’s office, where he addresses Sam, Howard, Aunt Bee and Clara on the solution that’s been proposed for the Mayberry Road:

OSBORNE: We have redesigned the road so that it threads its way around the natural groupings of trees in Grover’s Woods…Wickes…the map, please…
WICKES: Yes, sir!

AUNT BEE: Oh!  It winds through the trees like a stream!
CLARA: And it leaves the forest just as it was…
OSBORNE: Yes…and in honor of your club and its noble aims, Miss Taylor, we have changed the name…to the Mayberry Scenic Drive
(Everyone “oohs” in approval)
HOWARD: Well!  A most impressive job!
SAM: Yeah, Commissioner…looks like you’ve succeeded in pleasing just about everybody!

Here’s where I do my Alan-Brady-from “Coast to Coast Big Mouth” impression: “Oh, happy days are here again…”  No, Commissioner Osborne is far too modest, explaining that the revised plan can be chalked up to “creative engineering.”  Giddy with their success at sticking it to The Man, Aunt Bee and Clara hurry on their way (Osborne even graciously offers to see them to the elevators…presumably to push both of them down the shaft)…while Sam notices that Howard is studying the map a little too closely:

SAM: Uh…you coming, Howard?
HOWARD (measuring the map with a piece of string): Yeah, Sam…you know something?  If my calculations are correct…according to the scale of the map, this Mayberry Scenic Drive will make our new shortcut at least a half a mile longer than the old road!
SAM (stunned, he looks around): Uh…do me a favor, Howard?  (He pulls on the map to close it) Keep that to yourself, will ya?

Coda time!

Sam is out by the Waltons’ barn, hard at work (snicker) cutting up logs for firewood.  Enter…a young idiot.

MIKE: Whatcha doin’, Pa?
SAM: Oh, I just thought I’d…cut up a few of these logs so they’d fit in the fireplace…hey, if you want to help me—you can take hold of the other end of that…uh, saw there…
MIKE: Do I have to?

The seeds of rebellion have been planted again!

SAM: What do you mean, do you have to?  I thought you liked to help me around the farm…

“Well, yeah…but you rarely do any actual farming, Pa—what kid wouldn’t want a job like that?”

MIKE: Well, I do, Pa…
SAM: Well, then…help!  Grab hold…
MIKE (grabbing the other end of the saw): These logs…they were trees once, weren’t they, Pa?
SAM: Well, of course they were…all logs were trees once…
MIKE (letting go of the saw): I don’t think I want to help you kill any trees…
SAM: Mike…I’m not killing any trees…these are just old dead logs here…
MIKE: You gonna make me do it?

Oh, crap on a Popsicle stick.  If I had said something like that to my father at Mike’s age, my mother would be donating blood to make sure I made it through the operation.

SAM: No, I’m not going to make you do it…

“The hell I’m not…”

MIKE: That’s good, Pa…because I wouldn’t feel right after what Aunt Bee said…
SAM: What did Aunt Bee say?
MIKE: You heard her say it…only nature can make an oak…

That woman is twisted and evil.  Sam tells his son to never mind, and as the little freeloader walks away, he yells: “I’ll do it myself!  Attila the Hun will cut your firewood for ya!”  Why Sam doesn’t just stop what he’s doing and then wait until December, when the old dame and his son are slowly freezing to death, goes unchallenged.

“The Mayberry Road” is one of Aunt Bee Taylor’s more prominent showcases, demonstrating that her powers are so great she can get a ten-year-old boy to bend to her will and transform him into a goldbrick for the rest of his life.  Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Bee-o-Meter™ also marks another tally in Aunt Bee appearances on the show: eight episodes for the second season, with twenty show-ups in total.  Next week: more rural hilarity…more Aunt Bee…and if you’re not careful, you may learn something before “Millie and the Great Outdoors” is done.  (Hey hey hey…)


Anonymous said...


I don't know if you own or want to own it, but Amazon has a gold box deal for today (Tuesday) of the complete Andy Griffith Show at a 56% discount for $75.


Ivan G Shreve Jr said...


Thanks for the heads-up on this. I'm one of those silly people who buys the sets when they come out and then swears a blue streak when the company repackages them with extras they couldn't include the first time around. But I'm sure there are folks out there in YesterLand who'll be interested in this info.

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

Tom left this comment earlier, which I apparently erased in an example of brazen, naked numbskulledness (sorry about that, Tom):

So basically Aunt Bee speaks for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.

I guess it's nice to see the Garden Club earn a victory as radical enviromentalists after failing so badly as a political machine a few years earlier when they tried to get Aunt Bee elected to the city council. Of course, victories just makes Clara Edwards more smug and insufferable so maybe it's best that the ladies should always get the short end of the stick.

Stacia said...

they are highly-charged political treatises with captivating sociological ramifications as well.

Absolutely. Otherwise, why would anyone watch them?

(I have no idea what this means, by the way—but it must mean something, since I used big words.)

This is also my personal movie-reviewing philosophy.

Okay, so after I picked myself up off the floor after passing out from a laughter coma at that screencap of Howard, I can finally read the rest of the post.

Aunt Bee looks pretty good here, all dolled up for the environmental reactionaries meeting.

but from the looks of that bag, she asked for six sheet cakes

HA! You're right, though, that is a huge half dozen, unless it's a half-dozen boxes of a dozen donuts each (much like six packs of two-four).

Chris Vosburg said...

EMMETT: But can’t you ladies of the Garden Club save the world just as well foolin’ around with your roses and snapdragons and stuff?

Oh yeah, I remember this episode from the Manchurian Candidate. Then Aunt Bee says to Howard, "Sergeant Shaw, pick up the pistol and shoot the repairman."

Nice one, Ivan; one of your funniest.

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

Then Aunt Bee says to Howard, "Sergeant Shaw, pick up the pistol and shoot the repairman."

I need to learn to stop drinking iced tea when I read these comments.

Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

HA! You're right, though, that is a huge half dozen, unless it's a half-dozen boxes of a dozen donuts each (much like six packs of two-four).

They like their Donettes king-size in Mayberry.

Chris Vosburg said...

A pretty good example, by the way, of Hollywood's clumsy attempts to connect with youth culture of the era, as I touched upon in last week's episode's comments.

Things Ecological were a great concern of kids those days, and especially the issue of conservation of trees, which with the usual overweening earnestness of youth, crescendoed with mail from subscribers of the Sierra Club Newsletter to the Sierra Club, demanding that they cease printing and publication of the newsletter in order to save trees. So help me, they meant well, the poor dears.

The "Tree-Hugger" sneer came into popular usage around this time, though I don't know who actually coined the term. Aunt Bee, tree hugger.

The first Earth Day was celebrated the following April, in various ways, mostly involving "teach-ins" at assorted universities, and no, I can't be bothered to explain just what the hell a teach-in was.

And in 2009, the United Nations designated April 22 to be International Mother Earth Day, which I imagine will in 2109 be redesignated International Stop Ruining Our Perfectly Good Planet 'Cause That's Where I Keep All My Stuff Day.