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Mayberry Before the Diabetes Epidemic

What do surburban growth and diabetes have in common?

Opie walked to school and rode his bicycle to baseball practice. He walked with his dad to the fishing hole where they shipped rocks across the water. They walked to Floyd’s Barber Shop for a hair cut. Andy walked to the drug store to visit his girlfriend.

Later, his next girlfriend was Helen Crump, Opie’s school teacher, who was also within walking distance. Barney and Andy double dated at the local movie, and then walked over to the diner for coffee and pie before driving the girls home.

In Mayberry, people walked to the library, church, hardware store, ladies clothes store, mercantile store, beauty parlor, courthouse, and to see Andy at the jail. Once a week, Aunt Bea needed a car to tote the groceries home from the grocery store. Otis Campbell was a fat drunk but he had to walk to the woods to get his moonshine and had to walk to jail to sleep it off.

The Taylor family would often talk to neighbors who were walking down the street from their front porch. It was a real front porch, not like the miniature ones today that have curb appeal but aren’t big enough for a Barbie tea party.

Whether it was on sidewalks, streets, or on paved shoulders of the road, everyone in Mayberry walked or rode a bicycle and no one had diabetes.

That changed when Otis Campbell was elected mayor. A developer from Mount Pilot wanted to buy the town lake and build a subdivision around it. He also wanted to buy the ball park and build condos. He just needed a local politician to help. Otis wasn’t too bright, even when he was sober, but he could take orders.

The developer hired a campaign manager for Otis, got him a dark suit, introduced him to Scotch whiskey, funded the campaign, and told Otis to support lower taxes and oppose immigrants. He won in a landslide and never lost another election.

Mayor Campbell reduced taxes a few times, till there wasn’t enough money in the Mayberry budget. The mayor called it a financial crisis which required a strong fiscal solution. The town lake was sold and became Towne Lake Subdivision. The ball fields went next and became the DeVille Luxury Condos.

The public library was privatized. The developer also owned a charter school company that took over Mayberry’s public schools. They got rid of gym and recess to save money and boost profits and laid off some teachers. Helen Crump was teaching four grades in one room for a few years before she took early retirement. 

A four-lane road was built to Mayberry from Mount Pilot with new subdivisions on both sides. Crossing the four lane was as dangerous as Aunt Bea trying to walk across Johnson Ferry Road using a walker. There were a few accidents. Gomer was run over by Earnest T. Bass who was driving the Darling Family truck. Sidewalks and shoulders were lost as roads were widened to feed traffic to the four lane.

The four lane brought a fast food restaurant, a gas station, and a big box store to every intersection and there were a lot of intersections. The big boxes lowered prices and put every store in Mayberry out of business. Then they raised prices. It was easier and cheaper to get fast food than to drive to the grocery store in Mount Pilot.

Some say that more calories and less activity led to the diabetes epidemic. Aunt Bea was one of the first to go. Barney lost his right foot. Floyd the Barber went blind. Helen Crump’s students had more juvenile diabetes than they had passing grades.

Later, a loop was built around town to make it easier for residents in subdivisions on the far side of Mayberry to get to the four lane. The loop cut off the downtown from the residential areas. Soon, no one walked in Mayberry. Most of the old destinations were gone and you needed a car to safely get to the rest.

The folks in the big houses in Towne Lake were mostly doctors from Mount Pilot. They didn’t walk either. They drove their cars to work in Mount Pilot and to the subdivision swim/tennis center. Mexicans did their yard work. Mayor Campbell’s yard by the lake was maintained by Manuel and Pedro. Then, they tore down the library and built a big fancy gym. It was too expensive for the residents of Mayberry to join and the few jobs inside were mostly sub-minimum wage for the wives and children of the landscapers.

It also had a bar where the Towne Lake people (aka Mayberry Mable’s) would sit around drinking their Margaritas and criticizing the citizens of Mayberry for bringing the diabetes epidemic upon themselves by not taking personal control of the problem and showing some self-discipline.

Mayberry went from being another victim of the diabetes epidemic to a business platform. The CDC first noticed the change in dozens of towns and called it the 21st Century illness/business model, or the Diabetes Economy.

Mayberry’s old economy was agricultural. Now, it was medical. Doctors and hospital administrators lived in the big houses. Nurses and hospital staff lived in smaller houses. The residents of Mayberry, who all had diabetes, kept the others employed, just like hundreds of other communities across America.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rob Maynard August 10, 2011 at 04:31 PM
Brilliant.
Betsy Thurston August 16, 2011 at 01:28 AM
Great article!! (But everyone CAN learn to change and end up happy and thriving and living life to their potential! I do this every day with my clients-- nutrition/behavior change coaching) www.BetsyThurstonRD.com

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