Darrell Huckaby: Lindsey a fine human being who could make us laugh

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

"Judy, Judy, Judy."

That's Goober Pyle "taking off" on Cary Grant, as any "Andy Griffith Show" aficionado would realize.

"Tell him Goober says 'Hey.'"

"'Hey,' from Goober."

"Goober, did anybody ever tell you that you've got a big mouth?"

"Yeah, but I don't pay no attention to 'em."

What a wonderful collection of characters we were given by the creation of the "Andy Griffith Show." There was Andy, of course -- the great high sheriff of Mayberry -- and his girlfriend, Helen Crump, the epitome of the small town school marm -- and Aunt Bee and Opie. I once had a blind date with a lady who looked just like Aunt Bee, and Ron Howard may well become the greatest director in the history of Hollywood but nobody from my generation will ever look at him without thinking of Sheriff Taylor's little jug-eared boy.

Deputy Barney Fife will forever be remembered as the supreme sidekick in television history -- as well as quite the ladies' man, keeping Thelma Lou on the string while running around with Juanita at the diner and the Fun Girls from Mt. Pilot.

There were a lot of other folks that kept Mayberry hopping as well -- Floyd the Barber and Ernest T. Bass and the Darling family. And of course there was the inimitable Gomer Pyle and his cousin, Goober -- proud custodian of Wally's filling station.

What a grand human being was Goober Pyle. Like his cousin, Gomer, he was solid as a rock, as honest as the day is long and had a heart of gold. Goober wasn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but he was quite industrious and besides all of that -- he made us laugh.

He certainly did make us laugh.

For years and years and years I watched the "Andy Griffith Show" almost every afternoon. It used to come on right after supper on TBS and I never missed an episode. I knew them all by heart but watched them anyway because as I watched I felt like I was spending time with old friends. Goober Pyle was like a part of my family.

You'll remember that Goober always wore a beanie hat and could fix anything that ever went wrong with a car. One of my favorite episodes was the one where Opie used a portable tape recorder and a walkie-talkie to convince Goober that his dog could talk. I also liked the one where Goob became a fifth wheel, going on date after date with Andy, Helen, Barney and Thelma Lou. Then there was the one ... well, you've all seen the shows with Goober Pyle.

Goober was the creation, of course, of George Lindsey, who was born in Fairfield, Ala., in 1928. Hoover was about to become president and the country was about to experience some of the hardest times in its history. Lindsey grew up in Jasper and earned a degree in bioscience from Florence State College near Muscle Shoals. Who would have ever guessed that Goober Pyle held a degree in bioscience?

You probably wouldn't guess that he served in the U.S. Air Force -- long before Gomer Pyle joined the Marine Corps -- but he did, and even taught school for a year before being bitten by the acting bug and enrolling in the American Theater Wing in New York City. Lindsey appeared in a couple of Broadway plays and then headed for the west coast and spent a couple of years playing bit parts in most of the popular television shows of the day -- getting his big break in 1964 when given the opportunity to portray the slow-witted but lovable Goober Pyle and the rest, as they say, is history.

After Andy Griffith left the show that bore his name, Goober stayed around several more years on the show titled "Mayberry RFD." In 1972, he brought the Goober character to "Hee Haw," where he would continue to make us laugh for the next 20 years. Who else ever played the same character on three different series?

And who in America can hear the name "Goober" and not think of the persona created by George Lindsey? Thanks to him, a Goober ain't just a peanut anymore.

George Lindsey died Sunday in his adopted home of Nashville, Tenn., at the age of 83. He left behind a wonderfully rich legacy of laughter that will be appreciated as long as reruns are shown and DVDs exist.

Thanks for the memories.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.