Recently, my aunt sent me a picture of a pretty lady that was obviously taken a long time ago. It was one of those “You won’t believe who this is,” or “Guess who this is” kinds of messages.
I didn’t know. I could only tell the picture was taken a long time ago. The lady looked like she was a movie star and she didn’t look like she had enough clothes on for the time period. She was wearing some sort of polka dotted two-piece thing.
Times have changed, people wear next to nothing on television and sometimes they wear nothing.
The message noted that the beautiful lady in the black & white photograph was “Frances Bavier.” If you don’t know who that is – shame on you. Frances Bavier was “Aunt Bee” on The Andy Griffith Show.
Tracing down the picture and finding it out it was a hoax, the lady in the picture was actually Gloria DeHaven. She was a beautiful lady and famous for her work in the theatre, movies and television. Later in her career, she made guest appearances on The Love Boat, Murder She Wrote and Marcus Welby, M.D.
If she was on The Love Boat, she had to be a big deal, but she was not Aunt Bee.
The picture of Gloria DeHaven was from a publicity shoot she was doing for a movie in 1949.
Do you know how old Aunt Bee was in 1949?
She was 47.
Times have changed, but the body in the picture didn’t belong to a 47-year-old woman.
Frances Bavier/Aunt Bee was born in 1902 and passed away eight days before her 87th birthday in 1989.
Regardless of the time, we don’t need Aunt Bee pictures in polka dotted bathing suits with her leg stretched out like a hot wheels track.
We simply need her to be – Aunt Bee.
We all have our favorite episodes of The Andy Griffith Show featuring Aunt Bee, none of which had anything to do with her looking like a pin up model on the wall of an army barracks.
My personal favorites are the episodes involving Aunt Bee’s Pickles (that smelled like kerosene), her falling for the good-for-nothing traveling salesman (who was Uncle Joe on Petticoat Junction) and the one where she gets all liquored up drinking the 170-proof miracle elixir of a snake oil selling medicine man.
Enough is enough…
Aunt Bee was what she was and it was good enough to be the best in my opinion. She (Frances Bavier) has been dead for almost 25 years.
I can’t eat a pickle without thinking about her, that’s the way I want it.
The life of Frances Bavier, what’s known about it, is actually very interesting.
Aunt Bee/Ms. Bavier was from New York City and went to school at Columbia University to be a school teacher. That does seem fitting. She would have been at Columbia from around 1920 to 1924.
If you’re a baseball fan, you know the name of Lou Gehrig, one of the greatest baseball players ever. Gehrig was actually playing baseball for Columbia during that same time frame (1922-23).
I wonder if Aunt Bee watched “Columbia Lou” play?
As most folks know, Lou Gehrig died too young at age 37 due to ALS, a disorder now commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” Before being disabled by the fatal neuromuscular disease, Gehrig set a record of playing in 2,130 consecutive games for the New York Yankees. It wasn’t until 56 years later in 1995 that Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles would finally break the record.
Aunt Bee, who was born in New York City and made famous by the fictitious town of Mayberry, North Carolina and The Andy Griffith Show spent her last years in Siler City, North Carolina. You’ve probably heard the city’s name on the show; she just fell in love with the town and decided to retire there.
Her house was about 9,000 square feet; she lived alone. She was never married. It doesn’t matter.
Aunt Bee had suffered a couple of heart attacks and fought cancer. They say most of her time was spent in a large back room of the house that had only a bed, a desk, a television and a small end table. She rarely left her home.
In addition to being a recluse, one would imagine she was somewhat frugal. After she died, the folks who went in her home were surprised to see the way she was living.
Noting that she “lived alone” is not necessarily true; 14 cats inhabited the house with her toward the end of her life. Folks say the smell was close to unbearable because she literally gave them (the cats) the basement bathtub as a litter box. The condition of her house was not good; the plaster was peeling, the carpets were badly frayed and the upholstery was worn out.
There was a 1966 Studebaker (she was very fond of) in the garage with four flat tires.
She was an older lady, in poor health; I understand.
I don’t need the bathing suit picture and the fact that her house was not what you would expect from Aunt Bee, just doesn’t matter.
The pickles matter.
Ernest T. Bass and Aunt Bee didn’t along very well in real life. As a matter fact, they say not many people got along well with Aunt Bee. As most folks know, Ernest T. Bass or Howard Morris (his real name) actually was a director for a number of episodes of the show.
On one occasion, Mr. Morris was moving folks around on the set of the show and asked/told Ms. Bavier, “Frances? I’d like you to move over here.”
Aunt Bee went a little crazy and started ranting, “Nobody will `move' me! I am not a sofa! I am not a dining room table! How dare you?”
They say Mr. Morris/Earnest T. Bass wanted to hit her; I’m glad a rock wasn’t around. You know how Earnest T. Bass liked throwing rocks and breaking things.
Again, I don’t need the bathing suit picture to be real and the peeling plaster, stinky cats and fighting with Earnest T. Bass don’t really matter.
The pickles matter.
The Aunt Bee I will continue to see on reruns taking care of Andy and Opie, making bad pickles and playing the piano under the influence of “hard” miracle elixir – those things matter.
Let all of us just love her as we know her.
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