I can’t be entirely positive, but I’m sure enough to bet my last dollar that the majority of this country grew up on The Andy Griffith Show. It was the show I watched every day when I got off the bus as a kid, every night as a teenager before I went to bed, and every night as a homesick recent college graduate living out of state and trying to make it on her own. I was homesick for not only my family but the people that made Dana, Indiana, home much like the folks in Mayberry, North Carolina, were a community to Andy, Opie, and Aunt Bee.

Small towns across America are filled with characters, good, bad, and everything in between. The towns may be small, but the personalities are big.

Every small town has the Andy Griffith characters — the folks with a strong moral compass who will always do what’s right no matter the consequences. They’re loyal to a fault and will always stand up for the underdog.

For every Andy Griffith there’s a Barney Fife — the best friend who will follow the Andy Griffiths of the world to the ends of the Earth. They’ll do their best to keep up and most of the time they do, but they’ll always be the sidekick helping to make the main character’s goals come to fruition.

Small towns across all 50 states wouldn’t be able to survive without the Aunt Bees of the world. She’s the backbone of the community keeping everyone fed and organized. She’s also the one who’s the most overlooked when it comes to the matter of importance. Without the Aunt Bees of the world, nothing would end up getting accomplished.

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There’s not a town in this world no matter how big or small it is that doesn’t have a Goober in it. They have all the best intentions, but no matter how hard they try, they always screw it up (no matter how bad they screw it up, you forgive them though).

And then we come to Otis. Every single small town I’ve ever visited has an Otis or two. Despite all their faults you can’t help but love them because overall they’re a pretty good person.

I guarantee when you read each of the above descriptions that you thought of a certain person that fit them. Here’s the thing, though, we need each of these people to make our small towns work.

In a lot of the country, small towns are quickly going by the wayside. They’re either completely disappearing or being eaten up by bigger surrounding towns. The towns with the “Andy Griffith” characters however are going to hang on a little bit longer. Why you may ask? They may seem like a bunch of misfits, a ragtag group of folks if you will, but despite their differences, each of these people believe in their little town with the kind of ferocity that could only match the king of the jungle.

They’re an eclectic bunch to be sure, but these are the people who are going to keep small town America going. We’ve seen a lot of changes as a country and as a world in the past year, but the resilience of Mayberry, USA, is sure to be unmatched. With strength and determination and more than enough characters to learn from, we’ll carry on the tradition of rural America to the next generation of small towners, and it’s a lifestyle worth passing down.