By Tim Clodfelter | Journal Reporter
Published: April 1, 2009
In the classic Andy Griffith Show episode “Stranger in Town,” a man moved to Mayberry, N.C., because he had heard so many good things about the town.
And in real life, Darrel and Debbie Miles, big fans of The Andy Griffith Show, made the same decision.
They are originally from New Albany, Ind., but just over three years ago they decided to make the move to Mount Airy, the town that inspired Mayberry. They opened Mayberry on Main, a store on Main Street that sells memorabilia related to The Andy Griffith Show as well as hot sauces and salsa.
Debbie recalls the first time she found out that there was a real “Mayberry” back in 1992.
“Reruns of the show were always on during dinner time,” she recalled. “Like any other family, we’d be getting dinner ready and The Andy Griffith Show would be on. Then one day when I was at work, my oldest daughter, Natalie, called and said, ‘Mom, there really is a Mayberry and Oprah’s there!’ I said, ‘Well, find out where it is!'”
When they got home, Natalie had written down the name of “Mount Airy, N.C.”
“That minute on, we made arrangements to visit,” Debbie said. “And then every year at least once a year we could come down.”
They made the eight-hour drive to Mount Airy, first for the annual Mayberry Days festival and then more frequently. They made friends in Mount Airy during those visits.
“We found more and more times when we had a few days off, we’d be driving down to Mount Airy,” Darrel said. They visited frequently over the course of about 13 years.
And when Darrel retired from the manufacturing company where he had worked for 32 years, they decided to move to Mount Airy.
“We decided about three years ago we were going to do something together,” he said. “We started thinking about all the places we had visited and vacationed, and wondered, where would we like to live and have a small business and just have more time together?
“We talked about several places we enjoyed, and as big Mayberry fans as we were, we thought, ‘Oh, gosh.…'”
“‘Wouldn’t that be great?'” Debbie said, finishing his thought.
Their oldest daughter, Natalie — who is now 28 — thought the move was a good idea.
Their youngest, Samantha, who is 25, wasn’t so sure. “When we moved down here, she thought it was real corny,” Darrel said. Eventually, their daughters moved to North Carolina as well.