“I’m told it’s a step closer to heaven. But I’m not so certain,” ~ Coleman Larkin
All but hidden in the primitive terrain of the central Appalachian basin, a small unincorporated community most often referred to as Hell For Certain, Kentucky, reposes near a river by the same name. Although the proper name given to the ‘town’ is Dryhill, area residents tend to prefer the environmental description to that of the prohibition status of the county. Conversely, the Bluegrass Brewing company of Louisville named one of its beers after Hell for Certain and the National Geological Society has borrowed the name for a hardened volcanic swamp ash commonly encountered in mining operations. But the story, passed down through generations is that a missionary; having travelled there in search of prospective new followers, and asked where he’d been upon his return, replied “I have no idea, but it was hell for certain”.
“It was just a paradise for a child,”
The remaining few inhabitants are generational legacies of an unassuming lot; long gone and largely forgotten. Except by one Ms. Sally Jane Begley who, at an astonishingly spry 93, remembers well the glorious days of her childhood.
Would you think twice about stopping if you saw the name Hell For Certain on a road sign?
There’s something about these lush country backroads that reminds me of stack cakes, stew, and smooth aged whiskey; which I’d have to travel for if I liked it, because this particular county has been dry since the Prohibition Era.
Ah yes, the infamous era when Boardwalk Empires emerged in flagrant homage to the remarkably adept management of Organized Crime, as Speakeasies hummed behind every closed door (at one point NYC had over 20 thousand!) and Bootlegging became a lucrative and much sought after form of employment. The 21st amendment saw the end of much of this, but not the end of Organized Crime, which seems to be doing as well as ever.
Years later, the fruits of prohibition were (and are) ripe as ever and continue to bring prosperity to most any setting imaginable.
Based on an actual problem Coors Brewing Company was having in transporting the product beyond certain state lines, celebrated stuntman Hal Needham came up with the idea of a movie about bootlegging Coors beer.
“Smokey and the Bandit” was the second highest grossing film (behind Star Wars) in 1977, capitalizing on the growing CB fad and spawning similarly themed films such as ‘Convoy’ and “Breaker! Breaker!” In addition, the movie sparked a five year, wildly popular romance between Burt Reynolds and Sally Field and brought Jackie Gleason out of what had seemed to be an early retirement to play the role of the Smokey (sheriff) who chases the Bandit across the southern backroads and byways.
Gleason reportedly enjoyed occasional ‘hamburgers’ on the set - which was code for a glass of bourbon – and insisted his scenes be filmed first in case poor health prevented his attendance later. Sally Field went on to star in several more romantic comedies with Burt Reynolds, Smokey and the Bandit boosted country singer Jerry Reed’s career considerably with his hit song “Eastbound and down”.
While Smokey and the Bandit had two sequels, the third was deemed the “worst bad movie ever made” and Burt Reynolds and Sally Field didn’t even appear in it, but the first one remained a favorite of Alfred Hitchcock’s and incidentally, was the last film he ever screened.
Funny thing about wandering; you just never know where you’ll end up ;-) Thanks for coming along!
Have you seen the movie? Do you wander down backroads? Do you live in a dry county?
Thanks for the history lesson, dear friend! Yessum, I watched Smokey and the Bandit all those years ago when it was first released. Jackie Gleason was a favorite of mine and I also love Sally Field especially in her film Norma Rae. I well remember Sally's romance with Burt. Remember The Cannonball Run, the Burt Reynolds - Farrah Fawcett movie about a coast-to-coast race? I saw that one and the movie that preceded it and inspired it - The Gumball Rally. Did you ever see the movie Nothing in Common that starred Jackie Gleason and Tom Hanks?
I wouldn't mind living in a dry community because I gave up drinking 24 years ago this month - not a single drop of alcohol all these years.
Thanks for the entertaining and informative post, dear friend Diedre!
Oops! Kids came in right behind me - I'll be back!
Hi again, my friend!Delete
So glad you stopped by. I figured there wouldn't be many who hadn't seen the movie ;-)
I enjoyed Sally Field in most everything she did and remain bewildered as to why she had any confidence issues.
In the first 'Smokey' movie, I thought everyone played fantastic, believable roles - even Snowman's old hound!
I'm sure I must have seen 'Nothing in Common', but can't quite remember just now. Gleason and Hanks, what a match-up!
Congratulations on letting go of a powerfully possessive vice! It can't be any easier than smoking cessation; which I only accomplished a year ago.
Only the reservations are 'dry' here in Arizona. I learned about 'brown-bagging' while in NC, where my dad played in a band.
Have a pleasant weekend!
Hell For Certain. I would be curious if I saw a town name like that. It's not too spooky to make me say, "Nope. Not going there." I'd want to know why the residents thought it was hell for certain. ;)ReplyDelete
Have to admit, I was a bit disappointed to find they don't have single ghost ;-) Just a sweet vintage lady who calls it 'Paradise'.
True, you'd think the residents would prefer the proper name of Dryhill, but perhaps the close-knit community thought to dissuade outsiders with Hell For Certain. If so, it didn't work on me ;-)
I'm certainly glad I do not live in a dry county. In fact I've even been known to brew my own beer. I remember watching all the Smokey and Smokey themed movies. My favourite would have to be Cannonball Run.ReplyDelete
There are tons of breweries here in the desert. I have a mountain friend who brews beer and wine as well. He also makes something he calls 'Apple Pie', which smells like dessert and eats through asphalt when spilled! Scary.
You're not alone with your choice of favorites as Cannonball Run. Did you know that Steve McQueen was slated for the lead role? It was after his death that Reynolds got the part and the movie became a comedy.
Did you notice I posted a video? It only took me five or six tries! :-)
You know, I did notice but it didn't click with me. LOLDelete
You are now ready to join the BOTB. Well, if you could only find the time. We'd love to have you join. Maybe one day just do a one-off and see how you like it.
"Hell For Certain" would definitely draw me in by the name. ☺ Thanks for the background on Smokey and the Bandit. It was one of our favourite movies at the time. Thankfully, there aren't any "dry" counties around here.ReplyDelete
It certainly drew me in. And though I was expecting at least one ghost or spooky legend, discovering a nearly hidden sliver of serenity was not a bad trade-off ;-)
I know what you mean; we once wandered onto a reservation while exploring the Four Corners area and felt like we should hide our beer! Always good to know where you're going, I guess.
Not being able to order a glass of wine with dinner would be so strange to us! It's part of the meal and we don't really consider it as "drinking". Different customs in different places....Delete
No kidding, huh? I've passed through other reservations where they pass out in the street! Maybe that's why the one I mentioned said 'enough' :-)Delete
If I saw "Hell for Certain" I think I wouldn't even bother turning around. I'd just put my car in reverse and put the pedal to the metal!ReplyDelete
Hi there, Quanie!Delete
Ah, my funny, flighty friend, don't you know I'd keep you safe? Me and my magic Popsicle stick :-)
Isn't Stephanie the sweetest? Talk about making someones's day.
I had to come back and get that name again. Not a great name for where you live but a terrific one for a laugh.ReplyDelete
Yes, the name sure does give pause ;-) But I think they like it that way.
We were seated next to the short guy who was in Smokey and the Bandit at a restaurant a couple of years ago. Paul Williams. He's an accomplished songwriter, but my husband whispered, "He was in Smokey and the Bandit." I'm glad the guy didn't hear!ReplyDelete
How cool! He probably would have been flattered to be recognized. I was surprised to learn how many songs he wrote for the Carpenters. He's actually appeared in quite a few television shows too, and was the voice of The Penguin in the animated Batman series :-)
Now that's a name! I'm thinking you could make a total tourist stop out of it, including all kinds of gimmicky money-making stuff.ReplyDelete
I was thinking the same thing until I checked out the folks themselves, who'd rather be left in peace.
A lot of places with strange names do promote the way you describe. It tends to lessen the mystique or draw of the name sometimes, but there are a great many more to explore out there :-)