Rosco P. Coltrane was born Rosco Purvis Coltrane on January 13, 1932, son of Melanie and the late Eliot Maxwell Coltrane. Believe it or not Eliot was a ridge runner, the only Coltrane that even ran moonshine. Jesse and Boss knew him briefly when they were children. He had died young, of a heart attack. Rosco had been too young to remember. He had been four at the time, Lulu had been nine.
Not to speak ill of the dead, but Eliot wasn't the best moonshiner though he was a pretty decent one.
Well this story isn't really about him. It's about Rosco. We don't know much about his past and this is a good place to tell it.
Rosco, Jesse, J.D. and LuLu were all friend while the two Coltrane children were growing up. Despite the Seventeen years age difference between Jesse and Rosco they got along. Rosco had been close to one of Jesse's older brothers, the oldest, Gene. That boy would follow Gene around almost everywhere, until Gene went off to war. Before Gene went back to serve his country, he went out fishing with the Coltrane family, along with Jesse. Gene turned his back for a few seconds. Rosco had fallen in the Pond. Gene blamed himself that he almost got him drowned, but Mr. Coltrane had said if Gene hadn't been there to go in after Rosco things would have gone drastically different. A short while after that Gene was shipped off to Texas. After Gene died in the war, the four year old Rosco became friends with Jesse's brother Joe. Now Joe was a trouble maker. He wasn't your typical average Duke. If trouble didn't find him, he'd go and find it. He'd always get Rosco to tag along. He'd been a shy, timid child, the exact opposite of Joe.
They always played cops and robbers, guess which one was the cop? That's right; Rosco decided he wanted to become a cop when he grew up. So he could "cuff 'em and stuff 'em, the bad guys that is. Otis Straight, Eno's father didn't tag on till later. He was the quiet type and got along better with Rosco. They were all still friends, until Otis got into the moonshine business right after high school. He spent most of his time with the Duke boys, Bo and Luke's fathers. When they were thirteen, (Joe was still twelve. He was a few months younger than Rosco and Otis.) Lea Ann Shield's, joined there little group. Joe would always tease her because she was a Yankee. She mostly hung out Rosco and Otis. They were the only ones that were nice to her. She couldn't stand Joe one bit. That year, in the fall of 1944, Rosco convinced her to go to the Hazzard County Fair with them. They had a good time. Joe didn't get on her nerves, surprisingly. Rosco had must've said something to him. What it was, she'd never know. Rosco had a way with words with people. When you needed help or advice, he was the best person to go to. That was sometimes hard for Lea. He was always spending time with that trouble maker, Duke, causing trouble. It was hard to get Rosco alone when she needed him. Most of the time she thought Joe was a pest and a bad influence on Rosco.
Joe had had a big influence on Rosco. He wasn't that shy, timid child anymore. In their later years, when they were teenagers, Rosco took things more seriously than Joe did. That was probably when they became aware of how different they were. Joe always known that Rosco was more of a follower. Joe was more of a doer. But they both had one thing in common. They had the same taste in women, one particular woman to be exact. Her name was Lea Ann Shields.
Growing up Lea always seen Joe as a pest, but she seemed to get along with Rosco. She even took a liking to him. Joe wondered why she liked Rosco and disliked him, but that all changed. When they graduated high school Lea grew fond of him. He knew he and Rosco both liked her and Joe decided it was unfair if anyone of them got her. So he promised his friend that neither one of them would marry her.
Two years later, he and Lea fell in love. He didn't know how it happened. It just did, like destiny. He asked Lea to marry him one day. He knew what he was risking. But he couldn't stand one day without Lea. And surprisingly she said she would marry him. People just changed he guessed. The closer they got to their wedding day he could see she had doubts.
Did she like both of them as much as he and Rosco both liked her?
A few weeks before they were due to get married, he and Lea go into a fight. And where did he find out she ran off to? Rosco's. He went over there when Lea came back home.
"I loved her longer than you have." Rosco said.
Ever since Lea moved to Hazzard with her parents when she was twelve (Rosco and Joe had been a year older.), Rosco wanted to marry that girl someday. Joe didn't take interest in her until they started high school.
"Lea and I are getting married Rosco, and you can't change that."
"You can't even keep a promise." He should have known Joe would go back on his word.
"People change Rosco." He didn't really change. He planned to keep that promise. But he loved Lea too much. It hurt him that he was choosing Lea over his best friend. He had to, didn't he?
"I don't. I'm the most honest man in Hazzard. I woulda kept my promise." He probably wouldn't have either. He loved Lea too. He would have dropped everything before, even if it meant losing his best friend. It turned out he was losing his best friend anyway.
"I'm not you Rosco." Rosco was an easy going guy, Joe wasn't. He didn't always do what he always said he was going to do, Rosco did. Rosco should know that about him, that he was not likely to keep a promise.
"If you don't apologize, you can kiss our friendship goodbye. And not only our friendship but with your family…."
Joe just shook his head and started toward the door. So this is how it ends, Rosco giving him an ultimatum.
"I'll never trust another Duke again." Rosco called after him.
Joe stopped in the door frame, looking over his shoulder. "Goodbye, Rosco." And he was out the door, taking with him the fate of his family.
Rosco didn't go to Lea and Joe's wedding. He went away to school at the Police Academy in Atlanta. He came back a year later.
Knowing Joe Duke was still a trouble maker he was waiting to catch him in the act. He's chase after them in his patrol car whenever they went over the speed limit.
Then that tragic day came, on July 17th, 1967. It had been a hot day. And Rosco was chasing Joe and Lea as usual. Lea switched Joe places, taking over the wheel.
"You have to do better than that Rosco if you want to catch us Dukes." She teased. She looked back at him out her window. A timber truck turned onto the road. By the time Lea turned her eyes back on the road, it was too late. She swerved the jeep to avoid it but the truck caught the end dumper, sending it into the ditch. It rocked sideways but then settled on all fours. The truck driver got out of the truck, all he could do was stand there. Rosco put up a hand to tell him to stay there.
Rosco ran to Lea's unconscious form, her head on the steering wheel. He checked her pulse. There wasn't one. The only woman he ever loved was gone. And it happened in a blink of a second.
He had to get a hold of himself and do his job. He went to his CB instead of using there's. He didn't want to have to reach around Lea Anne's body. He called Jesse on the CB and then an ambulance. Before the ambulance got there he went over to the wrecked jeep, pulling Lea Ann out.
By the time Jesse got there, he saw Rosco sitting on the side of the road. His sister in-laws body cradled in the law man's arms. "Rosco." He put his hand on his shoulder. Rosco looked up at Jesse. Tears streaked his face. Jesse looked at Rosco, down at Lea and then the jeep. The sight caused Jesse's own eyes to water, not because of the accident alone. It shook 'im that the man before him, who was the strongest lawman, was reduced to this state. It was like a little piece of him had died.
"I can't…I can't leave 'er Jesse." I couldn't leave her there, not in that death trap. His body shook a little. His heart felt like it had been ripped from his chest. He couldn't even think straight. He could only think about Lea. The last time he'd get to hold her. She would have looked like she was sleeping, if it wasn't for the deep gash in her head, her hair matted with blood, her skin a deathly grey. He'd never see those soft green eyes again.
The younger man looked like he was about to have a nervous breakdown. Jesse had to snap Rosco out of it. "For goodness sake, you're a law man. Get a hold of yer self."
"I love her Jesse." He never told that to anyone before.
Jesse looked at the law man sadly. He'd known that Rosco had loved Lea as much as his brother did. They were both gone now. There was only one thing left to do. "You gotta let her go." He told Rosco. Perhaps he meant it in a literal sense as well. He wasn't sure. "You're not supposed to be here. Now get outta here before anyone else see's ye." I might have lost my brother and sister; I'm not going to lose you too. They'll lock ye up for sure if they see you this way. Just listen to me and get out of here.
But Rosco couldn't move. What difference did it make if they saw him? But he figured Jesse was right. If anyone saw the sight of him they'd though he was going squirrely, he'd end up in a Looney bin for sure.
Jesse knelt down and he moved Lea from Rosco's lap to his. Rosco stood up.
"Are you sure you can drive on yer own?" Jesse asked him.
Rosco nodded and headed toward his patrol car, just as the ambulance made its way to the scene.
He drove home fine. He took all the back roads to avoid going into town. When he got to his house and up to his bedroom he felt like he was going to lose it. He sat down on his bed, staring at the wall.
He put a hand in his coat pocket. He dug around in it, and pulled out a folded over photograph. He unfolded it. It was of him, Joe, and Lea, when they had been kids. It had been taken at the Hazzard County fairgrounds. They were sitting on the back of a hay ride, their arms around each other, smiling their innocent children's smiles. Time to move on, ol' boy. He could imagine Joe saying that to him. He put his finger on the front edge of the photo were the crease started. He was about to rip it up, but stopped himself. Shifting the photo to one hand he slowly put it down by his side and turned his gaze to the wall again. He closed his eyes, letting fresh tears fall freely.
He'd never let her go. His heart still held her close and it would forever. He still loved her after all this time. He never met another woman like her. He tried to get over her by asking Maryanne to marry him.
Rosco couldn't believe he was married to Maryanne. He'd always thought there was no one else for him except Lea. He'd thought he'd never love anyone other than her. But he loved Maryanne as much as Lea. When he told her about Lea, and why he treated the Dukes like he did, she understood. And she took his problem on as his own. She helped him to get over her. It was ok to let Lea go. He supposed that's why he asked Maryanne to marry him, to help get over his loss. He tried to do the same thing with Sue Anne but it didn't work out.
He remembered the day he "married" Sue Anne. Bo and Luke had told him Sue Anne had married him so her husband and his cohorts could rob the Hazzard Bank. He hadn't believed him. "You're lyin' You lie to me all the time."
"Rosco." Luke said from the passenger seat of his patrol car. Bo was in the driver's seat. "There ain't no Duke alive that's ever lied to ye and you know it." What Luke said was true. There was no Duke livin' now that ever lied to him. The only Duke that had ever lied to him was Joe Duke. That was the reason he didn't like the Dukes at all. He had convinced himself that all the Dukes did was lie to him. That way he didn't have to ask for forgiveness. He felt he didn't disserve it anyway.
He didn't like the Dukes at all and J.D. Hogg didn't like Dukes as much as he did. Over that he formed a friendship with Boss, after he married his sister LuLu. The reason why Boss didn't like the Dukes, that was a different story. It went all the way back to his and Jesse's moonshine days. Catching the Dukes was his way of getting back at Jesse. It wasn't really about the Dukes in general.
"How about that one time…." Rosco was going to say "How about the time your Uncle Joey lied to me?" But they never heard about that and he didn't want to have to explain. He was glad Luke cut him off.
"If you think any different then you're just lyin' to yourself." Luke was right. He was lying to himself. He always did. In order to keep his promise he'd sworn to Joe. That he'd never trust a Duke again. And he was doing just that by telling himself that they were lying.
But they weren't lyin' about Sue Anne. "If you're not lyin' to me then Sue Anne's lyin' to me, right?"
"That's right Rosco." Bo said sympathetically. "Listen uh…." He tried to search for the right words. He didn't dislike Rosco, only when he was giving them tickets for a trump charge, or planning schemes with Boss. He'd never gotten a reason behind that. Why did he target him and Luke pacifically? Maybe he'd lost so much that it made him crooked. But that wasn't really the answer. He felt sorry for the man sometimes. "Me and Luke is really sorry. You gotta believe that."
"I am too." Rosco said. "I….my…" He wasn't apologizing for telling them they were lying to him. He was thinking about Lea Anne. How she was gone because if his grudge he held against Joe.
Bo and Luke caught the sad tone in his voice. Rosco threw in a witty line so they wouldn't catch on.
"Momma told me I was too young to get married. Kew. Kew." He laughed.
Bo and Luke smiled, glad he was happy again, or so they thought.
He sat in his office that evening, finding himself starting to reflect on the past. One particular memory came to mind.
It was July 17th 1968, the one year anniversary of Joe and Lea's death.
Rosco visited the Duke farm late one night, after Bo, Luke, and Daisy were all tucked up in bed. They were all still children.
"If you loved Lea," Jesse began. "If you really loved her then what happens next should be clear."
"What do you mean?"
"You know Joe and Lea woulda wanted ye ter look after her."
"She doesn't need me. She has you. You should be the one to look after her." He said all this without looking at Jesse. Joe and Lea had invited Rosco to the hospital when Daisy was born. They both decided, if anything should ever happen to them that he would take care of Daisy. Why him after all he had done? Rosco had asked himself. They shoulda made it Jesse.
"Ok, if that's how you feel Rosco.' He tried to get him to reconsider. But he was still in no shape. "But if she's ever in trouble Rosco you'll need to take up your responsibility. I won't always be there to watch over her when she gets older. Lea always went to you when she was in trouble." It would be the right thing for him to help Lea's daughter. It was the least he could do; take up part of his responsibility if not all. Being the Sheriff he could keep an eye out for her when Jesse wasn't able to.
There was a long pause. And slowly Rosco gained control of himself. "Very well, but never, never tell her Jesse. This must be kept between us. Swear it. "
Now he swore never to trust a Duke again. But the only Duke he ever really trusted was Jesse. Jesse had gotten him out of tight spots in the past. And this was the last favor he would ever ask of a Duke.
"Never tell anybody what really happened. I can't bear it, especially her daughter…I want your word." He didn't want Jesse to tell anyone he had been there when Joe and Lea died. Rosco wasn't even supposed to be out on patrol that day. So nobody knew. He aimed to keep it that way. And if Daisy ever found out, when she was old enough he knew it would make her hate him. And he wouldn't be able to take it if Lea and Joe's only daughter hated him. But he still couldn't help but think that he deserved it.
"You have my word Rosco." Jesse said.
Rosco didn't fully believe his word. A Duke still wronged him, and that one time, was one too many.
Now this story might be about Rosco, but Jesse has a big part in it too. Let's go back to the episode Dukescam, scam.
Jesse risked the farm to help Boss out of a fix. Why you ask? Back in '37, the revenuers caught Jesse for moon shining. J.D. could have let Jesse take the fall, but he bailed Jesse out of jail. But Hogg was still up to his scheming ways. Jesse put up the farm for Boss' bail. And Boss was planning to take the property right out from under him.
Boss skipped bail and left town. How could Rosco let him out of his jurisdiction? Jesse asked himself. Unless it had been all a scam as always. Jesse and the boys went to the police station to talk to Rosco. He had a lot of explaining to do. But that wasn't all he intended to do. Rosco wouldn't help the likes of the Dukes, unless it concerned him. But Rosco had a big heart as he was stubborn. If only Jesse could get around to him. Surely he wouldn't do anything to put them in any real danger or turn his back when they were in real danger. They still meant something to him. And if they lost the farm they'd have to leave Hazzard.
Jesse, Bo, and Luke entered the police station. Rosco was sitting in a chair, with Flash on his lap.
"Hello, Bo, Luke, Jesse." Rosco greeted them with a smile. But Jesse knew he wasn't really happy to see them. Maybe perhaps see he was, seeing them unhappy.
Can it Rosco. Jesse thought. He wasn't mad at Rosco. He was mad at Boss as always. I can get out of him what J.D. is up to if he won't help us.
"I can tell by your silence you're upset about somethin.' He knew what they were upset about. He could see their dislike, sense it in their body language. If anyone had to dislike him most of all, it had to be Jesse with all the trouble he caused the Dukes for two generations. "You shouldn't be." He got up from the chair, taking Flash with him. He set her down on the floor. "Just take it easy." He didn't want to start a fight with Jesse. "Just take it easy."
"Just take it easy?" Jesse's voice rose. He had the nerve to say they shouldn't be upset and that they should take it easy? "When my farm is at stake? Rosco, it was yer sworn duty to instruct J.D. and not let him leave town until after the trial."
"Well….I…." He tried coming up with an excuse but none came to him. Maybe I'm losing my touch.
"Don't well me. Cooter saw J.D. leavin' town with all his suitcases packed."
"Now he's gone and jumped bail." Bo said. "Thanks to you."
Great, all he needed was more blame. He was used to people blaming him, but it still hurt. He finally came up with an excuse. "Well, maybe he went on a nice picnic."
"Rosco, this isn't a time to be funny. My farm's at stake."
"Look, you all just go on, about your business." Go on, stop blaming me. Rosco thought. He just wanted them out of his business. "I haven't got time for such piddly things." He said, bending down to pick up Flash. "I've got more important things to take care of."
Jesse couldn't believe what he'd heard from Rosco. How could he act like he didn't care? Rosco had become corrupt, but Jesse never thought he'd go and do something like this. And to think he used to be close friends with Lea and Joe, and the Duke family. He turned his back on them. Just then, all the anger buried in his subconscious, burst out of him. "More important…." He stepped forward, bounding toward Rosco. Rosco backed up from him. Jesse felt the urge to hit him, strangle him even. Bo and Luke grabbed him by the arms, keeping him under control. "I'll give ye somethin' te…..I'd give ye somethin' to do at the hospital." But Bo and Luke got him out of the room. Rosco could still hear his voice from the hallway. "Let me at 'im. I'd like to give him somethin' important right upside the head." Then all was silent as the boys got him out of the police station.
Rosco held on to Flash tight, but not too tight. "Is he gone?" He asked Flash. "Good thing girl. You woulda torn him limb from limb wouldn't cha?" It wouldn't have been good for the trial. Maybe Bo and Luke should have let Jesse hit him. Knock some sense into me wouldn't it Flash? He walked back to his office. It woulda felt good too. Jesse had taken his brother's death all too well. He knew the truth. And it helped Rosco none that Jesse not once blamed him. Jesse didn't know it but a part of him did blame Rosco. And it had come out in his anger. Maybe he wasn't blaming him for Joe and Lea's death. But for his stubbornness and the fact that he wouldn't help a Duke because one turned his back on him. He turned his back on all the Dukes. He didn't have the right to be given kindness. He had the right to be treated miserably for the rest of his life. He decided that he wouldn't have minded if Jesse had taken a swing at him. At least he'd feel better.
Bo and Luke knew Rosco could get on Uncle Jesse's nerves but they haven't ever seen him like this. They gave each other a look as they let go of him, and he stormed down the stairs.
Jesse didn't know what it was all about either, he never been so angry at anyone or Rosco in his life. He got control of himself and walked down the police department steps. "Let me collect myself." He told the boys. "Can you believe him?" Rosco had been like a brother to him when Joe was alive even after until he became buddies with J.D. Jesse knew Rosco could be bullheaded but this…..this was just too far. He never been so angry and wondered where it all came from. Perhaps his subconcious had been hiding it. In his mind he had been shouting, You killed my brother, and now you're trying to tear my family apart. He had wanted to do more than just turn him over on his knee and give him a good slap. After everything...he betrayed them,and with out of all the people, J.D. Hogg. His old friend and now sworn enemy. Well Jesse couldn't call Boss his enemy. Jesse was too good of a person.
"Just calm down Uncle Jesse." Luke was starting to get worried, that Uncle Jesse might have a heart attack if he got any angrier. Rosco wasn't worth getting angry over anyways. "Don't let him rile ye."
"Don't let him rile me?" It wasn't exactly Rosco that was riling him. His stupidity came to be such an annoyance. Just for once he could think for himself, it wouldn't hurt. It didn't help any either if you knew he had a mind and didn't use it. "He's an idiot."
Luke tried not to smile. "I know that. But what we got to do now is find Boss ourselves and make sure he shows up at that trial tomorrow." They decided to go find Cooter so he could try and reach Emery Potter.
"I never seen you that mad Uncle Jesse." Bo said, putting his hand on his Uncle's shoulder. Luke stood on the other side of their Uncle incase he decided to go back and give Rosco "something important."
Uncle Jesse didn't answer Bo, because for the first time, he had no answer to give.
When Jesse and Boss were locked in the bank vault and had only fourty-six minutes left of air, Boss apologized for using Jesse's farm for bail. "I hope you can forgive me for that."
"I'd like to ring yer neck for that." Jesse said. And Rosco's. He almost added. "But I'm too weak. I guess I have to forgive ye." Both of ye.
"You're a good friend Jesse." Boss said.
Was he? He couldn't even forgive Rosco for what he did to the Dukes. The friendship between Coltrane's and Dukes went back generations and Rosco destroyed that. For one idiotic mistake his brother made. He'd never shoulda promised Rosco in the first place. If he was a good friend he would have forgiven Rosco like he told himself he was going to.
He didn't blame his brother and sister in-laws on Rosco, but he did blame him for losing their friendship with them. He contemplated how he would tell Rosco the rest of the time he was in the vault. Oh, he knows. Jesse told himself.