Howard Sprague, the particular and fastidious town clerk of Mayberry, North Carolina, was a fictional character played by the actor Jack Dodson from 1966 to 1971. Howard was a nerd before the term was coined as he went through life in Mayberry clueless and oblivious to what the citizens of Mayberry really thought of him and his nettlesome presence among them.
Howard Sprague was distinguished by a very well groomed mustache, stiff-looking pressed suits and the signature bow ties that completed his stuffy businessman ensemble. He often spoke of philosophy and culture to those who were willing to listen to what he had picked up at community college in Mount Pilot. These deep conversations usually occurred at Floyd’s Barber Shop or in front of the Mayberry courthouse.
Above all, Howard was a subjugated momma’s boy who lived with his meddling and manipulative mother in Mayberry. Howard’s mom faked heart palpitations once to stymie a double-date with Sheriff Andy Taylor and his frumpy date Helen Crump. When Howard was invited to join an all-male social lodge in Mayberry, Howard’s mother maneuvered Goober into blackballing Howard to prevent his membership in the club.
Despite all of this, Howard went wild – twice! After his mother remarried and moved to Mount Pilot with her new husband, Howard tried, with difficulty, to fit into the swinging sixties by becoming a hipster. He transformed his persona by donning a silk smoking jacket complete with a pompous ascot. He kept his trademark mustache but he grew no hipster sideburns or even a soul patch to complete his version of the sixties hipster. Poor Howard still had no clue but hey, this was Mayberry and he must have seemed pretty hip to the others. Yeah, right.
After about a week or two of beach combing and drinking rum with a character played by Harry Dean Stanton, Howard once again decided to change his life by packing his bags and returning to Mayberry to the drab lifestyle that previously drove him crazy. He could find no compromise between these two conflicting lifestyles, even with Harry Dean Stanton as a drinking buddy! As soon Howard returned to Mayberry, he shaved his island beard and returned to his stale business wardrobe as well as his very dull job as town clerk of Mayberry. C’est la vie, Howard.