That Barney just beat all

Published 12:52 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2006

By Staff
Sometimes when a beloved actor passes away, you curse the Fates. Sometimes you cry. When Don Knotts passed away recently, I didn't go for mollycoddling. I taught two-year-old Gideon to say, &#8220Nip it in the bud!”
Viewers are so fortunate to have reruns of &#8220The Andy Griffith Show,” because we'll never see such warmth and good-natured humor again. If the show were being created today, the admonition about &#8220nip it in the bud” would instead be &#8220let the next generation fix the problem.” Andy Taylor and Barney Fife wouldn't even be the law in Mayberry; some outfit from the United Arab Emirates would be the party busting Ernest T. Bass for throwing rocks.
I can still picture the black-and-white TV that we used for watching the Mayberry crew 40-plus years ago, but one of my fondest Knotts-related memories dates from about 1972. My sixth grade class was having a math contest between the boys and the girls. This was one day after &#8220The Ghost And Mr. Chicken” had been broadcast. (This movie — which would probably be known as &#8220The Ghost And Mr. Genetically Modified Chicken” if made today — featured Knotts as Luther Heggs, a jittery small-town newspaper typesetter who received encouragement from his neighbors to spend the night in a haunted house and become a big shot reporter.) As I strained under the pressure at the blackboard, one of the other boys cheered me on with a boisterous &#8220Attaboy, Luther!”
I think I won that contest. I certainly did much better than on the occasions when I received cheers along the lines of &#8220Ring around the collar!” or &#8220Post-Nasal Drip!”
I sympathize with the family of Don Knotts, but I feel the spirit of that little bantam rooster Barney Fife will still be around — in Washington, D.C., if nowhere else. Really, I can imagine what &#8220Big Barn” would be saying in the following situations:

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