Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Big Oranges of Memory

What, Independence Day again? I should have taken the hint when Canada Day came and went so quickly. In honor of the occasion I was going to find some poutine, but had no luck. Anyway, back again on Sunday.

Naturally recollections of The Andy Griffith Show are being dusted off now, but that isn't the only encounter I had with Griffith's entertainments, not counting Matlock, an item best forgotten. Sophomore year in high school, which would put it in 1976 or '77, our English teacher, the remarkable Bill Swinny, played a record featuring Griffith for the class. (Last I heard, Mr. Swinny is still alive in his early 90s. Most remember him as a drama teacher, but he taught English too.)

What we heard was, "What it Was, Was a Football Game," by a young Andy Griffith. It must have been a favorite of Mr. Swinny's, besides an example of how to create a character and a comic situation only by voice. We all would have known Andy Griffith, of course, but it's unlikely that many of us had heard the record, we who were imbibing the antics of Saturday Night Live's original cast at that moment. I know I'd never heard it. I was mildly amused. I think most of the class was.

When I heard that Griffith had died, I remembered hearing the story -- a surprise, since I don't think I'd heard it since that remote day in English class. I didn't remember much, but I remembered Griffith talking about his "big orange." Odd what sticks with you, but it isn't just me. Google "Andy Griffith big orange" and you get all kinds of relevant hits.

In those days, you needed a record and a turntable. Now a computer and high-speed Internet connection are enough. So I decided to listen to "What it Was, Was a Football Game," again. It made me smile, and laugh a few times. Quite an achievement, since a lot of comedy doesn't age well. I'll have to go find a big orange and drink it in memory of the comedian.

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