Mike Haviland, 63, is pictured in the Mayberry Room of his home in Lake Dalecarlia. He is the 2011 Mayberry Trivia world champ. | Photo provided
Updated: August 9, 2012 6:21AM
“... There’ll be you, me, and old dog Trey, to doodle time away.
If we don’t hook a perch or bass, we’ll cool our toes in dewy grass,
Or else pull up a weed to chaw, and maybe set and jaw.
Hangin’ around, takin’ our ease, watchin’ that hound, a scratchin’ at his fleas.”
— From the theme song of “The Andy Griffith Show”
Not everyone knows the lyrics to the above ditty, but most of us have whistled the tune a time or two.
You best believe Mike Haviland knows all the words to “Fishin’ Hole” by heart; he is the reigning 2011 Mayberry Trivia world champion.
Haviland, 63, was born and raised in Hammond, but graduated from Lake Central High School. He lives in Lake Dalecarlia with Rhonda, his wife of 31/2 years. He has two adult daughters, Bonnie and Kelly, from a previous marriage. Haviland is retired from the Dyer post office, but tends bar three days a week at Pop-O’s Tap in Thayer.
Our interview took place in the Mayberry Room of his house overlooking Lake Dale. Several times during our conversation, Rhonda had to interrupt us: “Mike, that was Connie Niemeyer on the phone, sending her condolences.”
It was the day Andy Griffith died.
Memories of Hammond?
“It was a utopia; at age 6, I’d go down to the Civic Center by the park to fly kites and play ball without adult supervision,” he said. “Nobody bothered anybody back then. I was into catching snakes and lizards over by Erie Hill.”
Did you watch “The Andy Griffith Show” in those days?
“Oh, yeah. My parents used to use Opie as an example: ‘Why don’t you behave like Opie?’ ”
In your estimation, one of Opie’s more precious lines?
“‘Pa, just what can you do with a grown woman?’”
While we’re on the subject, when you were Opie’s age, who did you think was hotter, Helen Crump or Thelma Lou?
“Definitely, Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn). I’ve met Thelma Lou many times. Aneta Corsaut (Helen Crump) died of cancer (in 1995) at the age of 62.”
Mike, with a straight face, I’d tell some of the guys in the mill from Hammond, East Chicago and Gary that I didn’t realize “The Andy Griffith Show” was a comedy until I got out of high school. Coming from Lake Village, I thought it was a docudrama.
We’ll work our way up to you winning the world championship in North Carolina. When did you get serious about Mayberry trivia?
“About 12 or 13 years ago. It’s my kids’ fault. Once you’ve bought Dad everything, it becomes difficult to come up with something new. They knew I liked Andy Griffith, so they bought me that tin sign over there. Then, it was an ‘Andy Griffith Show’ calendar. As you can see, I’m a collector of ‘Andy Griffith Show’ memorabilia.”
That’s an understatement. Look at all this cool stuff! I really like the cookie jars, especially the one featuring Andy and Barney waving from their squad car.
“There were only 2,400 of those made. I have more than 500 items here in the Mayberry Room.”
Mount Airy, N.C.?
“That’s Andy Griffith’s hometown; Mayberry is patterned after Mount Airy. I went down there and met a fella who owned a soda shop. He told me I had a great knowledge of the show and that I should enter their trivia contest.”
“I took his advice and have attended the last three Mayberry Days in Mount Airy.”
How did you fare?
“The first year, in 2009, I got blown away. The second year, I came in third. I was very disappointed because I knew the material, but just got nervous.
“I came home, took a month off, redid my room, and then I started studying every day.”
Your persistence paid off.
“Yes, I won it by three questions.”
When do Mayberry Days and the trivia contest take place?
“The last weekend in September. By the way, there are more than 1,400 ‘Andy Griffith Show’ fan clubs worldwide. Last year, people from 51 countries attended Mayberry Days. This will be the 22nd year of the festival.”
Amazing. What is the population of Mount Airy?
“Maybe a little bigger than Lowell; about 75,000 fans show up every year. In 2010, there were twice that many because it was the 50th anniversary of the show’s premiere.”
When was that?
“Oct. 3, 1960. The pilot episode actually aired in February 1960; it was a spinoff of Danny Thomas’ show, ‘Make Room for Daddy.’ Mayberry is a fictitious place that was built at Desilu Studios.”
Ernest T. Bass was one of my favorite characters.
“Howard Morris had four roles in the ‘Andy Griffith Show.’ Not only was he Ernest T. Bass in five episodes; he also played George, a TV repairman. He was the voice of Barney’s favorite radio personality, Leonard Blush, the masked singer out of Mount Pilot, and he was one of the directors of the show.”
Although he portrayed countrified simpleton Ernest T. Bass, the guy had a lot of talent.
“Howard Morris was a genius.”
Thoughts on the lame spinoff “Mayberry RFD?” I never liked Howard Sprague.
“I never really watched it.”
How many episodes of the original “Andy Griffith Show” are there?
“There are 249 of them; the show ran from 1960 to 1968.”
One of your favorite episodes?
“Episode 145, when Otis rode the cow. He thought he’d won a horse: ‘Put a clock on ’em, Andy!’ Andy told him, ‘Otis, you have a horse that gives milk.’ Otis replied, ‘I knew he was a good deal!’
“I also love Episode 82 — ‘The Class Reunion.’ I’m a very sentimental kind of guy. When they’re singing their high school class song, it’s a real tearjerker for me. “
Mike, one of my favorites centered around a bitter old man at Christmastime.
“Episode 11; that was the only time in eight seasons that they celebrated Christmas.”
The geezer keeps peeking in the window while the Taylor family and friends are enjoying a Christmas get-together at the jailhouse. The old codger also keeps getting into mischief and is starting trouble all evening, but Andy won’t arrest him because it’s Christmas.
Mike, I’m sentimental, too. Can you finish this story?
“Andy finally realizes the old man wants to be arrested so he can be near the festivities.”
“Some people don’t realize that Briscoe Darling’s boys, The Dillard Brothers, are in the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. They still perform at Mayberry Days.”
I loved the one where Gomer is in awe of Goober’s ridiculously twangy and terrible impersonations of Cary Grant and Edward G. Robinson.
“Episode 122, that’s the only time you’ll see Gomer and Goober in the same episode.”
Floyd the barber was an odd bird.
“In an interview, Goober (George Lindsey), said they never should have paid Floyd (Howard McNair). He was not working or acting; that was his natural self. Goober went on to say there were many times when they had to stop production because Floyd had the entire cast cracking up.”
Mike Haviland is one of the friendliest guys you’d ever want to meet. I’m sure many readers would like to converse with him about their favorite “Andy Griffith Show” episodes.
While working as a bartender, Haviland often is quizzed by patrons. If a customer can stump him, he’ll buy the person a beer. Stop in for a cold one at Pop-O’s on a Monday or Wednesday and say, “Hey.”
Then, see about setting up an appointment to view Mike’s Mayberry Room. The only stipulation is that you sign his guest book.
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