You start to understand the degree of Stacey Harris’ obsession once you walk through the big red door of The Boar’s Nest, the hubcap-decked replica of “The Dukes of Hazzard” watering hole he built in his driveway.
There’s the rebuilt ’69 Dodge Charger, lacking only orange paint.
There’s Waylon Jennings on the jukebox.
There’s the autographed portrait of Enos, another of Rosco and a third of Cooter, who dedicated his photo “to a good old boy.”
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But for me, the truest sign that a man has truly gone bonkers over his favorite TV show – enough to build a shrine that celebrates a campy 1980s ode to moonshine, car chases and jowly dogs – is when he strings a collection of Daisy Duke shorts across a clothesline.
“I consider myself a good old boy,” said Harris, 49. “I really do. I really do work on a Dodge Charger. I really do run around here. I’m like an Uncle Jesse and a Cooter combined. With a little Boss Hogg.”
After a year of construction, Harris has opened his “Dukes of Hazzard” museum to the public – up N.C. 50 just over the Person County line on Helena Moriah Road. Come by on Saturdays when you see the orange “01” flag flying at the mailbox. Actually, he’d prefer that you check in on the Facebook page first, but at any rate, it’s free and everybody’s invited.
For those too young to recall, or those too old to remember, the Dukes aired on Friday nights in an era that roughly paralleled President Reagan’s first term, and it starred a pair of Georgia-born brothers – Bo and Luke – who drove a souped-up car named the General Lee. They entered it only through the windows and spent their days vexing the corrupt, white-suited, cigar-chomping politician and his gang of lackey lawmen. It also involved Catherine Bach wearing very short shorts.
“You had pretty women, good values, fast cars – it had it all,” said Harris. “The kids now don’t have anything to watch. They’ve got shooting now. I just turn it off.”
In real life, Harris works at the Museum of Life & Science in Durham, putting exhibits together.
But he’d always connected the Dukes to the slow and easy life he knew as a child, the rocking-chair, grandma-on-the-porch life he wished we all could know. So in his spare time, he rebuilt The Boar’s Nest, slowly accumulating relics.
He lined the shelves with old Mason jars to lend the place the mood of a country store. He hung the walls with an antique Dukes guitar and signs that encourage visitors to vote Rosco P. Coltrane for sheriff. He hooked up a pool table, a “Dukes of Hazzard” Xbox game and a slot-car track where the General Lee always wins.
“A lot of people gave me the things I’ve got,” Harris said. “They’d say, ‘Here’s an old sign. It’s got bullet holes in it. It’s perfect.’ ”
Sure, the Rougemont museum isn’t the only “Dukes of Hazzard” sanctuary. Ben Jones, who pulled a stint as a U.S. congressman after portraying filling-station hand Cooter, has a pair of them in Tennessee.
But to me, Harris’ museum is more impressive because he has neither hope nor wish of cashing in on this venture. His fandom is more pure for having built a Dukes attraction with no genuine artifacts from the show – he isn’t sure if the real Rosco ever wore the uniform he bought on eBay. Instead, he stocked his Boar’s Nest with items that show how to incorporate the fictional Hazzard County into everyday life.
Every day, Harris is becoming the man Uncle Jesse intended. Y’all come, too.