The Granite City
When I used to visit my grandparents while growing up, Mt. Airy was known for having the largest open pit granite mine in the world, for being a major flue-cured tobacco center, and for Pine State Knitting mills. Andy Griffith was just a man who went to different schools with my mother (He was a towner and she was a country girl.) who had made a record called, "What It Was Was Football."
Today, this beautiful little town of about 9,000 residents owes a major portion of its economic well-being to tourism and the primary source of that tourism income is related to Andy Griffith and his career as sheriff of Mayberry, a fictional town thought by many to have been modeled after Mount Airy. The Mt Airy Visitors Center/Chamber of Commerce website address is even www.visitmayberry.com. For those not familiar with American TV history, Mayberry was the fictional "ideal American town" where Andy Griffith's first hit was set.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, published in the city which was the setting for Andy's second big TV hit, characterized Mt Airy as "America's favorite small Southern town." So far, I tend to agree.
""It's like coming home again""
That is the motto in the center of one of the more popular 3" x 8" advertising pieces distributed by the Mt Airy Visitors Center and Chamber of Commerce and for me it is very true. Wherever I have lived or travelled, I have always thought of life on a farm outside Mt Airy as what home used to be and still ought to be. Mt Airy is not what it used to be. Is anywhere? It is, however, still warm, friendly, and beautiful, and there are things to do there which are in no way related to Andy Griffith, although it does seem that nearly everyone is trying to profit off of his name and fame. If you have had your fill of Andy and Barney, try the granite quarry, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or the Robert Smith House (museum) where you can learn about the first pair of Siamese (I suppose the PC way to state that is "conjoined.") twins in the US grew to maturity.