YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsLos Angeles

Mayberry, U.s.a.

April 27, 1986

I hear you, Mark Pinsky, regarding the absence of blacks and the other terribly bigoted qualities of the "The Andy Griffith Show" (" 'Return to Mayberry': The Myth Endures," April 19).

However, before we judge an early 1960s program by late-'60s-through-mid-'80s standards, should we not also consider some of the negative side-effects of our last 20 years of urbanization and progress?

For instance, I now live in Los Angeles, which is, in many ways, the antithesis of Mayberry. I am a psychologist, and I work with children and adolescents who usually have their first experience with mind-altering drugs no later than the fifth grade.

These children and adolescents with whom I come into contact in my practice have often run away from their middle-class, luxurious homes. They drop out of school at age 14 with impunity. Worst of all, they often wind up either suicidal or dead.

I think that many of these adolescents, who get lost in the "gray area" thinking of their Southern California milieu, would do much better in a small town somewhere. At least more of them might live to experience their 18th birthday.

Yes, Mr. Pinsky, there is a Mayberry. In my experience, it was Chapel Hill, Tenn. (pop. 651). It is any small town where people are more people-involved (one may see this in its pejorative sense as nosy, gossipy, etc., as one wishes) than idea-involved, more local than cosmopolitan, more concrete than abstract, and more conventional than unconventional.

To say that such places are without their own good qualities, as you imply in your article, however, is absurd. There is room for the Mayberrys of the world. We need them as we need the melting pots and heterogeneity of Los Angeles and New York.

I return to my hometown now and feel a sense of stability, grounding and centered-ness, if you will, that I have yet to experience elsewhere. After two weeks there, I feel restless and eager to get back to Los Angeles, but I doubt that any amount of psychotherapy, scientology or other Southern California fad could ever bring about the sense of continuity of life, order, and, yes, innocence that is still to be found there.

Long live this last bastion of stability and innocence in an ever-changing world, Mr. Pinsky.

Long live Mayberry!


Los Angeles

Los Angeles Times Articles