Every episode had "food-for-thought" family values and small town humor. The show made its debut in 1960, at which time Andy won America's heart as the fair-dealing small town sheriff, nurturing father and all around "Mr. Nice Guy, Andy Taylor."
Before Andy became a household name as Sheriff Taylor, he was identified with another character in Mac Hyman's 1955 Broadway play, “No Time for Sergeants." The character was Will Stockdale, the well-meaning, fumble bum draftee, who gave his military superiors fits.
A case in point, in his barracks, Will wired the lids of the toilet seat together in such a way that when he stepped on a lever, the lids flipped up and stood at "attention" during latrine inspection.
The creator of such a character in such an incredibly funny situation had to be an unusually gifted writer himself. Well, Mac Hyman certainly was a gifted writer and he came by his whimsical humor quite honestly.
Let me just say here and now, I did not know Mac Hyman personally, but I did know his sister, Mitzi, and his parents. He came by his "craziness" honestly.
Mitzi Hyman and I were in an outdoor drama in Asheville in 1952 or 53. It was in one of those huge mountainside amphitheaters. The drama was produced by the Barter Theatre Foundation and was called "Thunderland," the story of Daniel Boone's trek into Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap, as leader of hundreds of North Carolinians leaving the Yadkin Valley in search of new frontiers.
During the course of the rehearsals and performances of "Thunderland," I was invited to visit the Hymans in their home in Cordele, Ga.
Mac was employed as a postal clerk, working nights and writing a first novel during the day in a modest, little cabin back in the piney woods near a small lake. The cabin was named "Smut's Hut," after the nickname of Mac's father, "Smut Hyman, operator of the Cordele Western Auto Hardware store.
Flossie was Mac's mother, who had two other children beside Mac — Mitzie and Dina. Forthrightly, Flossie announced frequently in her soft, Southern accent to anyone within earshot, "All my chulren are pretty and smart." And, they were.
The Hymans had a black dog they called, “Black Dog,” and they had a white cat who answered to the name of "White Cat." It is no wonder Mae named the blue tick hound in his novel, "Blue.”
Once Flossie broke her leg and was in a cast and on crutches. She begged Smut to take her to town in his pickup and let her visit with folks, whom she had missed while homebound.
Smut put Flossie in his truck, drove to town, pulled in the alley behind the hardware and there she sat until closing time, having seen no one.
When Mitzi and I arrived in Cordele and went to her house rather late in the evening, after dark and after bedtime, Smut came to the door. He was wearing Flossie's feminine "dressing gown." He was muttering something about " ... can never find that danged bathrobe."
The next morning I noticed Mr. Hyman's Indian blanket bathrobe tied with its own sash to one of the posts of his and Flossie's four-poster canopy bed.
During the day some time or another, Mac stopped by his parents' house. I was introduced and that's all. He was on his way to the "hut" to write more chapters of a novel he called, "No Time for Sergeants.”
Unceremoniously he left a message for his sister, Mitzi. "Tell "Miss" Bubba said he's quitting golf 'cause he can't putt worth a damn." Bubba was Mitzi's unofficial "boyfriend" of long standing.
Our visit to Cordele was all too short. We returned to "Thunderland" and continued our routine of playing the show and having our breakfast in a little diner-grill across the street from a hotel, the name of which I have forgotten.
Over eggs, bacon, toast and coffee each morning Mitzi read another "chapter" of "No Time for Sergeants" out loud to me. We doubled up with laughter. The wit and dry humor were priceless. Mac sent Mitzi raw copy as he finished each chapter eliciting her reaction and criticism.
One morning we wiped the tears from our eyes from laughing so hard. Mitzi turned to me and asked, "Do you know what he has written on a plaque behind his Royal portable typewriter out at the hut?
Of course, I hadn't the vaguest notion. She said he had to remind himself every day as he wrote:
DON'T TRY TO BE FUNNY
Mac Hyman's work WAS funny and he came from a long line of "funny people."
When his novel was a runaway best seller and adapted into a play, Mitzi came to New York and stayed with me and my roommate for the Broadway opening.
On opening night, Mac also came to the sixth floor walk-up on East 39th St. after all the hoopla at Sardi's. He sat quietly next to his sister on the couch and said repeatedly, "Mitt, I'm not a bum."
Mac was saying what so many writers feel, until they are published. “The world, my friends, family and peers must think I'm no better than a bum."
Brilliant writer that he was, Mac Hyman never wrote a second book; he died while still a young man — age 39.
His Broadway success spilled over into Hollywood. "No Time for Sergeants" was made into a motion picture with Andy Griffith as Will Stockdale. That was in 1958.
In the picture, a kookie psychiatrist nearly went bonkers trying to "analyze" Andy Griffith's character. The psychiatrist was Don Knotts. During the filming of the picture, Andy and Don forged a personal and professional friendship which is legendary.
They became the perfect sheriff and deputy in the long-running Andy Griffith Show. And, of course, the character of Gomer Pyle was a spin-off from Mac Hyman's "Will Stockdale," in another popular TV series, "Gomer Pyle, USMC."
All of these marvelous shows and characters harken back to Mac Hyman of Cordele, Ga., who wrote and inspired some of the funniest situation comedy imaginable while following his own admonition:
DON'T TRY TO BE FUNNY.