THE SPIRIT OF MAYBERRY
Thank you from Kathy Kieffer on the passing of Mick
Going, going, SOLD
Those are the immortal words that we listened intently to on that fateful Sunday, January 20th, 2008. What an experience! Our 1963 Ford Galaxy, a Mayberry icon, was finally sold at the Barrett Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.
It started about three years ago when we entertained the idea of selling the old squad car. Why keep it, was the question we had asked ourselves over and over? Mick's health was just not cooperating with his Barney Fife gig, and it became more and more difficult for him to continue to portray that wonderful little man of wit and charm. So, it was over, but not until the car was actually put on the block, could we finally say, it's over.
Mick took the car to North St. Paul at the end of the season for one last ride, and he was literally mobbed by people seeking a peek at the man that did such a great job of impersonating one of Hollywood's most famous comedians, Don Knotts. We also went to Hastings last night of Car Cruising, and the car was a huge hit. Someone thought it famous enough, to actually steal the Barney Mannequin right out of the back seat. We never did get it back, perhaps that person feels he needed it more than we did. It is kind of sad that this had to happen at a car event, car people just don't do that sort of act.
It was now time to get serious and get the car shined, buffed and ready to roll it's way to Arizona. Mick, along with friends, and son, Pat, worked endlessly getting the car ready to go to the most prestigious auction in the world. How many guys can actually boast that their car was good enough for that auction? It was indeed an honor to be there. When we finally sent in the application, on a Monday, we got a call from them on Wednesday, to say that they were very excited to receive our application and they were very happy to auction the car. They asked Mick if he would wear his uniform and drive the car up on the block. Well, what do you think he did? He played the whole scenario cool, but was equally excited to impersonate his childhood idol, one last time. We were very concerned about his health, would he last the two weeks of intense cleaning, the pressure of the upcoming auction and the unknown tension of NO RESERVE?
In the second week of October, the car was shipped by a trucking firm, referred by Saturn of Maplewood, to Phoenix, Arizona, and was tucked safely away in the garage of Mick's brother's home, waiting for Mick to arrive in January to start the buffing and waxing process. Once Mick got there, he and his brother worked for six days straight, buffing, shining and waxing. The car never looked this great. When I arrived, a few days before the auction, I was completely overwhelmed with how beautiful it was. It's come a long way. The car had been to hundreds of events, visited over twelve Nascar tracks, and had actually been on eight Nascar tracks, had been filmed in many videos, television spots, newspaper articles and hundreds of magazines. The car was also filmed with many movie stars, and at least twelve former cast members of the Andy Griffith Show. What an exciting life it led, and what a wonderful companion it had become to Mick and I. Sure we'll miss it, but we still have all the memories and photos left to admire.
It was now time for the car's debut. Mick registered the car at the Auction, and had a stream of people gathered around for each day as the car sat on the lot. With much memorabilia supporting the car in its little spot, it was the talk of the auction the entire weekend. Once the car was pulled into the staging area, the cleaning process started all over again. Arizona is very dusty, and it was a constant chore to try to keep the car dust free, which just didn't happen. Black shows all. Unfortunately, our day was on Sunday, the last day of the Auction. The car sat in the fields amongst many nice cars for six long days, on view, for many prospective buyers. At about 1pm, the auction stagehands retrieved the car to go to the staging area. We were in the staging area about 2-3 hours, it's hard to remember, cause it was just so surreal. Was this really happening? Had we finally made the right decision? Would we get what we really wanted for the car? Yes, yes, and yes!
A film crew, from the Life on the Block, filmed our entire staging process, asking Mick and I so many questions about his life as Barney Fife, his illness and why he's retiring, and how we felt about seeing the car go. It was very exciting. They told us that it was the best interview they did over the entire week of being at the Auction. The footage will be used for the 2009 Auction. How cool is that??
It was time now, to move the car under the tent, the last move outside before it rolls into the auctioning arena. Dusting the car for one more time and then taking Mick's picture driving the squad for one last time, hit me like a ton of bricks. I looked at Debbie, and told her with tears welling up, that this is the last time we'll have to clean this car! Of course, I couldn't cry too much, cause the action was happening, the car is starting to roll onto the block and Mick is driving it, with his faithful Otis Campbell, friend Keith Kaehler, in the passenger's side. A kiss for good luck and one more picture. Debbie Kaehler, Scott Hansen (Ernest T. Bass), Jim Bemis and I followed the car and all the excitement. The film crew followed and were taping the entire thing, this was so cool. Mick was a star for one last time, and once on the stage, he exits the car and starts working the crowd. What a ham, I know he didn't really feel well, and I was terrified that he might collapse, but the adrenaline was really pumping, and nothing could stop the process now. I remember looking up at the board and seeing $10,000, and the auctioneer seemed to stay on the figure for an eternity. All of a sudden the number was moving up, and I'm jumping up and down and yelling, "Pump it up, pump it up"! There were two men on the stage bidding on the car, and they were so calm, while I was sweating bullets, no pun of course, cause the price was not rising like I had hoped for. It finally hit $ 17,000, and Mick and I both started to feel a sense of relief. After that, we didn't really care or watch the numbers. I remember it hitting $ 20,000, then 22, then 24, then 26, then 27. It seemed to stop there, and the auctioneer actually bantered the price of $ 27,000 seven times to the bidders, and then he slammed down the hammer, and yelled SOLD, $ 28,000 to the phone bidder. I was shocked! It's over, wait, that was too fast. It actually lasted three and half harrowing minutes. Mick was elated and relieved that he actually got that much. If you think about it, it's really only a $ 5,000 four door car. But, in actuality, it's an icon in the car show circuits. It's a car that brought much joy to others and to us. We are very happy to have had that opportunity in our lives to bring joy to others, especially all the kids.
Would we do the Auction over again with another car? Right now we would say no, but you just never know what life has in store for you or what God's master plan is. We do know that we're pretty fortunate to have had such a great time of our lives with just a plain ole' four door Ford Galaxy.
& Mick Kieffer