Sometimes, ya just gotta let your inner Southerner hang out.
Some of my relatives go to these “Dukes of Hazzard” events. For those of you unfamiliar with this TV series that aired from 1979 to 1984, it features a southern family consisting of two troublemaking brothers (Bo and Luke Duke), a barmaid sister (Daisy Duke) and a wise uncle (Jesse Duke). Add to that a bumbling police force and a comic but corrupt commissioner, and you have yourself a show.
I asked my relatives if I could go with them to the next event (this was last summer), just to see what it was like. Ben Jones (Cooter) and his wife had opened up a place in Luray, Virginia, so I agreed to meet my relatives there.
It rained heavily the night before, so I had a feeling there would be a LOT of mud. The event was held on an open field with lots of tents, vendors selling food and cast members signing autographs. There was also a huge tent with a stage at one end, where there was live music.
One of my relatives warned me, “Get in the autograph line right away. Don’t wait.” I got in the autograph line for John Schneider (Bo Duke in the original “Dukes of Hazzard” and Jonathan Kent in “Smallville”), very quickly. I figured, hey, JS is a well-known actor and this autographing will only take three or four hours before my turn comes.
Poor me. Poor, poor, deluded me.
I entered the line at 9 a.m. I left the line at 3:30 p.m. Arrrrrrgh.
Those who were standing in line had brought everything you could imagine for JS to sign. As a result, the line moved super slowly. I’ve known glaciers that moved faster than that line.
We fans passed the time chatting with each other and watching other goings-on. To one side, there was a mini cavalry battle going on, complete with riders in period Civil War costume. Other fans had brought chairs with them, so they could sit down and read.
Somewhere around hour 4, I started wondering out loud about the long wait and seriously considered leaving the line. I had a New York family of four in front of me (mom and dad, plus a boy and girl of elementary school age) and a Pennsylvania family behind me (mom, dad and college-age daughter). Mom of New York family encouraged me to take a break and both families said they would hold my spot for me.
I went off and had some lunch, then sat down and rested for a bit. Then it was back to the line.
In the end, I was glad that I didn’t leave the line permanently. Otherwise, I would have missed a very special moment. When it was New York family’s turn, their little boy piped up, “Hi, Bo!”
JS whirled around. “Who said that?”
We all grinned and pointed to the boy. JS then took a couple of minutes to banter with this kid and his family. I was glad for the kid’s sake — he and his sister had been great in the line and were nice kids.
More importantly, I was impressed by the fact that this famous Hollywood actor took time out of a busy day to joke with the kid’s family and make them happy. That goes a long way toward showing the character of this actor.
Side note: JS is also one of the co-founders of the Children’s Miracle Network.
JS also made a speech about a new CD he had and mentioned FEMA. I didn’t quite follow at the time, but I looked it up later. His home and recording studio in Louisiana was flooded due to heavy rains and a local river bursting its banks.
There’s a YouTube video where JS describes the damage (see below). JS got a call from his neighbor, “I don’t have much time. What is it you need out of here?” Now, that’s a GOOD neighbor.
JS also describes people in the community pulling together to help each other. I find that inspiring.
Although it was a long day, it was fun. I left with a signed autograph (sorry, folks, I’m keeping that one to myself) and some entertaining memories.
And John Schneider, if you ever read this blog post, you’ve got some great fans. (Video credit: NOLA.com, YouTube.)