Through the years, as I've traveled this country selling floor coverings, I've had the opportunity to see the best this great nation of ours has to offer: the famous Cheers district of Boston, the historic Flimm building in Cincinnati, and the storied East Side of New York City, to which the Jeffersons made their famous odyssey. Once, while attending a convention in Milwaukee, I was blessed to tread the same streets as Laverne, Shirley, and the immortals of the Happy Days gang. But as I grow olderfor, yes, I am getting oldthe urban life entices me less, and the winter stays longer in my bones. Lately, I find myself thinking often of the balmy Southern countryside. Though I have seen great wonders in my life, I have yet to see Hazzard County with my own eyes.
Ah, fabled Hazzard County! Where life is by turns bucolic and abruptly violent, and inhabitants are as puritanically hard-working as they are prone to committing misdemeanor crimes. How I long to travel its winding roads! What joy, to motor serenely, or less serenely should occasion demand, past the suggestively inclined surfaces of Hazzarda partially finished bridge over a creek here; there, a hay wagon tilted at an incline just adjacent to a farmhouse; and over yonder, a stack of lumber leaning innocently against an outhouse! How my soul yearns to lose itself in the sporadic rural traffic of Hazzard, with its farm animals, its souped-up American sporting automobiles, and its police cruisers! Truly, no other place is as beautiful a romantic representation of the post-industrial South.
My desire to visit Hazzard County is not without reservations. For one thing, I worry that it may be difficult to get there. Although I know it's "somewheres south of the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Mississip'," I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I'm unsure of its exact location inside of Georgia.
A part of me is also apprehensive. Hazzard County's magnificence may have diminished, its splendor faded with time. It may now be a shadow of its bumptious past self. I have been saddened thusly before, as when I visited the Santa Monica boardwalk, where Jack Tripper watched Chrissy rollerskate, only to find it clotted with tourist shops. And my heart nearly broke to see the outdoor basketball courts of Mr. Kotter's beloved Brooklyn standing empty. I have learned the hardest way possible that nothing good and pure can remain so. Perhaps not even Hazzard County, where time moves slower than most other places, can escape the ever-turning wheel of Father Time.
So much more of my life lies behind me than ahead. If I do not see Hazzard County, how can I count my existence complete? Would mine be a life truly lived if I never saw the infamous Boar's Nestheadquarters of the villainous Boss Hogg and wellspring of many a misadventurein all its ragged vagabond glory? Could my body be put to rest without its foot having fallen in the purtiest town square in Dixie? Could my soul repose in tranquility without having first experienced Cooter's Garage, where the General Lee was tuned, where Cale Yarborough's top-secret carburetor was returned to its rightful owner, and where President Carter's limo was squirreled away after being stolen in a moment of happy-go-lucky mischief? Could I succumb peacefully to the clutch of death knowing that I had never breathed the air inside the sheriff's office? Never having seen the mill of Hazzard law enforcement grind out justice neither too coarse nor too fine, could I deem mine a life truly lived?
No. I must see Hazzard. I must see Hazzard or eternally long to bask in the late June light as it falls on the Duke ancestral farm, where once a motley band of valiant, mysteriously begotten cousins fought to keep their family land safe from foreclosure on an almost weekly basis. Though I have never been there, I know I would be at home. I know I would be welcomed. I know that a part of me, of everyone, belongs there. When I think of experiencing Hazzard County in the flesh, my heart leaps up... leaps up and soars, as if it had suddenly encountered an inclined woodpile, lovingly arranged at a 45-degree angle by some unknown, benevolent hands, there, waiting on the banks of Possum Creek.