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Barry Schrader


I have been writing a column for the Chronicle most of the time since December 2007, with two breaks, one in 2016 and the other in 2017 when my wife Kay suffered a stroke. They are all archived here.


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Andy Griffith's Deputy Barney Fife
comes back to life!

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist....................................March 28, 2019

Those who remember the Andy Griffith TV show and Mayberry would have done a double take last Thursday when a spitting image of Don Knotts came to town in his Mayberry Sheriff’s Deputy outfit.

DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott collects memorabilia from the 1960-68 TV series and has made friends with a professional entertainer who portrays Don Knotts (aka Barney Fife). The impersonator is David Browning, who hails from Bristol, Virginia, not far from the mythical Mayberry, North Carolina where the show supposedly was based.

A few times Sheriff Scott has brought Browning here to give the keynote talk to the graduating class of the civilian sheriff’s academy, offering a mixture of humor and a message on how to live your life. The academy has about 30 citizens complete the 10-week course each year to learn about local law enforcement.

Last week Browning attended a breakfast for Scott campaign supporters before his address to the class. In addition to reminiscing about the TV series and its characters, Browning offered six pointers that spell the letters DEPUTY:

Decide to make a difference
Energize people around you
Prove you are worthy of others’ friendship
Use all of your talents
Take your iPhone and put it away, then talk to each other
Yesterday is gone, but today is the day we can make great

DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott poses with his friend David Browning, who portrays the Don Knotts’ character Deputy Barney Fife from the old TV series. Browning’s mannerisms, voice and quips are so realistic you think you are meeting the TV character in person. (Schrader photo for ShawMedia)
Don Knotts’ character Deputy Barney Fife

Even though the early 60s series may have seemed hokey and corny, Browning brings back fond memories of small town life down South that had a very friendly and caring sheriff, a goofy deputy and lots of other town characters. Remember Aunt Bee, Andy’s son Opie, Gomer the auto mechanic, Floyd the barber, Andy’s girlfriend Helen Crum, Mayor Pike, and Ernest T. Bass? If not, you can find the complete series online and have a fun evening watching reruns.

Sheriff Scott told his supporters at the breakfast he had campaign signs for them in back to take home, even though he has three more years remaining for this term. When I asked him, he demurred on running again, saying it was too early to decide. But when he told me the record for a sheriff in office in Illinois is 40 years, I realized he has already served 34 years in that capacity and at the end of his term it would be 37 years. So another four years in office would give him the state record of 41 years.

As for Browning, he has been a warmup act for the late Don Knotts, who died in 2006, as well as making appearances all across the country in his deputy role. Browning likes to sign off with a familiar Barney Fife phrase: “Ten-four good buddy.”

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115