The Andy Griffith Show: Season 2/ Episode 14: The Keeper Of The Flame: June 8, 1964: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS:
An episode centered on Opie. The opening segment has Opie taking an oath- to join a secret group called the Wildcats. The job they give him as ‘Keeper of the Flame’- which in this case is a candle. The boys meet in old man Foster’s barn. They see him coming and run off.
Opie comes into tell his pa about his joining the club but of course he can’t give any details since he swore the oath never to tell. He does tell Andy that he needs some money to pay his dues. Andy gives him a job to earn some pennies- by taking out the trash. Meanwhile Jubal Foster comes into the jail as mad as a hornet- about those boys being in his barn trespassing. When Opie walks back in-he identifies Opie as one of those brats- Andy jumps to Opie’s defense. Foster walks towards Opie yelling- Andy defends Opie as Foster leaves- telling Andy he better be protecting his property from those kids.
Next we see those kids back in the barn. The candle is lit- and they see Old Man Foster coming down towards the barn. They scat- with Opie taking the candle. Foster goes into the barn- and fires up a light-so he can go into the room where he’s keeping his moonshine and moonshine making equipment. He knocks over the light and a big fire erupts. Foster manages to get his moonshine equipment out of the barn before it burns down .By the time its put out the barn is totaled- and here comes Andy and Barney. Foster gets on the defensive -blaming those kids for starting the fire. They promise an investigation- of course Barney has the idea of getting every kid in Mayberry in a line up so Foster can identify them- an idea Andy quickly rejects.
Back at home- Aunt Bee finds Opie’s candle and shows Andy-Andy now fears that Foster may have been right. When he confronts Opie, Opie lies and says the candle is for when he goes out at night so he can see. Opie isn’t giving any answers other than he didn’t start a fire at the Foster’s place. He won’t even admit to being there. Andy sends Opie to bed. When talking with Barney about it- Andy tells Barney he will have to pay for the fire since it looks like Opie may have started it.
Andy goes up and talks to Opie who is in bed- and let’s Opie know that he -Andy will have to pay for that barn. Again Opie denies burning the barn down and looks near tears as his pa leaves.
Out at Jubal’s -he sees Andy and Barney coming and hides his bottles of moonshine in a shed. When Andy tells him he will pay for the barn- Foster gets all mouthy and rubs it in to Andy how he’s finally admitting he was right about those boys. Meanwhile Barney wonders over to a bushel of moonshine that Foster had forgotten to hide- and starts drinking- pretty soon he is loopy. As Andy and Foster discuss the cost of the barn- at first Foster places it at $450- then he starts to raise the price to include things that we supposedly in the barn at the time. Barney comes over and puts his head on Andy’s shoulder trying to get his attention. He does- and Andy sees Barney is gassed. He places Foster under arrest. As they lead Foster back to the car- Barney is having a hard time keeping on his feet.
In the final segment- we have Andy apologizing to Opie for not believing him when he told him he didn’t start the fire. Andy also tells a story about how as a boy he was a member of a secret club- and his job was Keeper of the Flame- and that his father suggested it would be safer to be Keeper of the Flashlight- and he suggests Opie do the same thing- to which Opie agrees.
Everett Sloan- a veteran actor- among his credits- Citizen Kane- plays Jubal Foster. It was Sloan who wrote the opening theme to The Andy Griffith Show- ‘The Fishing Hole.’ This would be Sloan’s [Jubal Foster’s ] only appearance on Andy Griffith. They sure did have a moonshine problem in the Mayberry area. Sloan would commit suicide in 1965 at the age of 55.
The cost of the barn $450- in 1962 dollars would be around $3,600 or so today.
Andy Griffith- Sheriff Andy Taylor
Don Knotts- Deputy Barney Fife
Ronny Howard- Opie Taylor
Frances Bavier- Aunt Bee Taylor
Everett Sloan- Jubal Foster
Directed by Bob Sweeney
Written by Jack Elinson and Charles Stewart.