I was poking around a graveyard at 7 a.m. on a weekday morning in Montgomery, Alabama when I sat down beside Hank Williams and wrote:
“I wonder if I looked confident or lost–maybe just thoughtful.
It’s hard to look lost as a woman wearing cowboy boots.”
So, Hank, I’m thoroughly enjoying this peanut butter and banana sandwich I made on the hood of my jeep, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the birds in the gnarly looking bushes nearby.
But what is it to me to be sitting here this early in the morning just because I can? It’s a little personal stop that goes beyond being a fan.
The official account of his death was at a Pure Oil gas station in Oak Hill, West Virginia on New Years Day 1953, the same year and month my Pa was born. Today a small plaque sits in a big lot where the old gas station used to stand and reads that this was where Hank “made his last stop on his last tour.”
That part of the story is not the one I was familiar with. Rather, where I’m from is the ‘Hank William Bridge’ a very small bridge on the backroads of Mercer County between Camp Creek and Kegley. My elementary school was on the other side of this bridge and it’s where I first learned about country music, asking Pa “who is Hank Williams?” at the young age of 6 or 7. He’d go into a short story about this bridge being the very last bridge the legendary Hank Williams ever crossed alive; A small bridge my dad and I would often cross in a pick-up or old Cadillac to pull into the local store on the other side to pick out some Laffy Taffy flavors that our friend Tim would special order and a glass bottle Ginger Ale.
I like to think Hank taught me about writing, and that the world is full of these “instances” across time and space and not always in the form of some grandiose church or back alley bar, but between the backroads and the quiet.
And that’s why I found myself sharing a peanut butter and banana sandwich with Hank Williams at 7 a.m. in Montgomery, Alabama. Fittingly set off some backroads and with plenty of quiet.