It was just before my first Birthday in November of 1961 when "Opie's Hobo Friend" aired on The Andy Griffith Show. Watching this clip gives us a glimpse back into a time when people not only knew the difference between right and wrong, but understood the importance of keeping those two separated and straight in their own thinking, and the thinking of their children. Who would have thought then that the Hobo's relativistic worldview, as depicted in this clip, would be mainstream in just a few short years?
To set it up, Opie had made friends with a Hobo named Mr. Dave (Buddy Ebsen) who was a petty thief and was teaching Opie the tricks of his trade. A fishing lure symbolizing the hooks that hide in the otherwise glittery temptations of life had been given to Opie as a gift by the Hobo. Through Opie's description of his lunch with Mr. Dave, Andy had determined that he was the thief of a missing pie and a roasting chicken. Andy headed down to the railroad yard to send Mr. Dave packing.
I have transcribed here the meat of their conversation. The video is below.
"Well there seems to be something wrong with his thinking. He’s gotten a little twisted on things lately, like being able to tell the difference between right and wrong. Not that that’s an easy thing; lot of grown ups still struggling with that same problem, but its especially difficult for a youngster, because things rub off on em so easy."
"Well Sheriff, maybe I do look at things differently than other people; is that wrong? I live by my wits, I’m not above bending the law now and then… to keep clothes on my back, or food in my stomach… I live the kind of life that other people would just love to live if they only had the courage. Who’s to say that the boy would be happier your way or mine? Why not let him decide?"
No I’m afraid it don’t work that way. You can’t let a youngun decide for himself; he’ll grab at the first flashy thing with shinny ribbons on it. Then when he finds out there’s a hook in it it’s too late. Wrong ideas come packaged with so much glitter it’s hard to convince them that other things might be better in the long run. All a parent can do is say wait, trust me, and try and keep temptation away.
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