Montgomery

I visited Hank’s grave yesterday. A high-school choral group was there. They sang a rendition of “I Saw the Light” for a kid holding a cellphone.

It’s raining in Montgomery. The Hank Williams statue downtown is getting his picture taken by tourists.

Teens huddle at the statue and holler, “War Eagle!” for a camera.

I visited Hank’s grave yesterday. A high-school choral group was there. They sang a rendition of “I Saw the Light” for a kid holding a cellphone.

I met a boy at the grave, too. He had Down syndrome. He spoke with labored tongue.

The man who was with him was older, white-haired. He was friendly. He told me about the boy.

“His mama was a friend of my sister,” the man said. “She just up and got rid of him. I told that judge he needed to give me and my wife that baby, we wanted to love him.”

I should’ve asked more questions. But it was their day out together.

Good barbecue isn’t as easy to find as you’d think in this town. At least not according to Laquina, a hotel maid.

Laquina made suggestions for lunch.

“There’s Dreamland barbecue, downtown, but it ain’t great, too dry. Go to K&J Rib Shack. They got good ribs.”

Laquina is raising three kids with her mother’s help. The father of her children is in a correctional facility. Her oldest is going deaf.

Tonight, she’s got choir practice.

“I take my oldest to choir so he learn all them good songs before his hearing is gone.”

She’s right about K&J Rib Shack. The fare is fall-off-the-bone good.

Only three miles away—one hundred years ago—Nat King Cole was born. Today, Nat has a colorful painted mural on Maxwell Boulevard.

I visited the mural. I met a young couple there. College age. We endured the light rain together, admiring art.

They told me they’re photographers.

“Mostly, we do weddings,” the girl said. “Which is funny, ‘cause we haven’t had an actual wedding of our own.”

There’s a story here. Last year, they planned their big day, and were going to pay for the shindig themselves. They scheduled a florist, a caterer, a preacher, a band.

Her parents refused to attend because they were against the marriage.

“So we called it off,” says the girl. “We did a courthouse ceremony. We saved our money, put it into savings.”

They sank their nest egg into photography equipment. Business is booming.

She touched her belly. They just found out they have a tiny photographer on the way.

Tonight, my wife and I ate an early dinner. I visited the Hank statue again before heading to the hotel. Hank didn’t notice me. His bronze face was too busy watching the city.

I’ll bet he sees a lot from where he stands. The whole world, maybe. I’ll bet he sees lots of people who think they’ve been forgotten. People who wonder if anyone sees them at all.

People like Laquina—working her knuckles raw for a son who’s losing his hearing. Or young couples with parents who are against them.

Or a boy with Down syndrome. A child who wore a big smile while observing the tombstone of an American icon.

Earlier, that boy asked me which Hank Williams song was my favorite. You’ve never seen a more radiant child, his face lit up the rainy day like a sunrise.

“That’s easy,” I said. “‘I Saw the Light.’”

“Why?” he asked.

Because today in Montgomery, I saw it bright and clear, inside all kinds of people.

28 comments

  1. Kathy Grey - January 29, 2018 11:00 am

    Sean, you bring light to my mornings. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Brenda Pointer - January 29, 2018 11:54 am

    Beautiful reading I agree old Hank is still singing Thanks.

    Reply
  3. janiesjottings - January 29, 2018 1:34 pm

    Wonderful! I Saw The Light was my mother’s favorite song. Thanks for the reminder!

    Reply
  4. Ruthann Dabbs - January 29, 2018 1:37 pm

    You help us all see the light Sean. Thank You for that.

    Reply
  5. Dianne - January 29, 2018 1:52 pm

    Thank you for another great start to my week, Sean!! By the way, Dreamland BBQ is awful!!! I think the only reason they have a name is because they began in Tuscaloosa and Bear Bryant used to eat there. Jim and Nick’s in B’ham is good and Blue Moon in Auburn. If you’re looking for good sausage that tastes the way sausage used to taste, go to Cap’s just outside of Auburn. It is wonderful.

    Reply
    • Linda D. - April 22, 2018 12:35 pm

      Never heard of it. Where is it located?

      Reply
  6. robertb - January 29, 2018 1:54 pm

    Fellow Hank lovers have to go to the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery. Sean would also like Hank’s song, “A Picture From Life’s Other Side”. While you are in Montgomery you may as well go to “The Capitol Oyster Bar” across the river. Hank would have loved it and am sure Sean would too.

    Reply
  7. Connie - January 29, 2018 1:59 pm

    I love the way you “see” people. When I was lucky enough to hear you speak in my small town, I introduced you to my granddaughter and you said “there’s a story there”. At the time you were surrounded by 100 women with cameras and books to be signed, but I knew you saw me, just like you see so many stories and tell them. You are amazing and I’m so thankful I found your column. It’s the first thing I read every day.

    Reply
  8. Marion Pitts - January 29, 2018 2:52 pm

    Great way to start my day! “I saw the light” through our cloudy skies.
    Thanks and have a great day.

    Reply
  9. Sheila Robertson - January 29, 2018 3:12 pm

    Sean, you are the BEST OF THE BEST, we have a grandson with Down Syndrome, and I know that he “sees the light”…… have a great day, and thanks always for your wonderful articles.

    Reply
  10. Johnny - January 29, 2018 3:37 pm

    Sam’s barbecue—–Atlanta hwy

    Reply
  11. Pat - January 29, 2018 3:47 pm

    You were definitely stomping in my old stomping ground…………..

    Reply
  12. Jack Quanstrum - January 29, 2018 4:45 pm

    Great story!

    Reply
  13. Anne Trawick - January 29, 2018 4:58 pm

    I saw the light too, through your words.

    Reply
    • Susie - January 29, 2018 5:50 pm

      Yes, Anne Trawick. Love your comment.
      Our soninlaw and daughter are Trawick too. Troy and Christy. Maybe relatives.

      Reply
    • Pamela McEachern - January 30, 2018 2:19 am

      Awesome thought!

      Reply
  14. Judy O'Bar - January 29, 2018 5:06 pm

    Sean, I enjoy all your columns and you have my young friend originally from Wetumpka, Alabama–Jeanie Edwards–to thank for introducing them to me. I grew up in the country about 35 miles from Montgomery. One of my memories from those early days in the early 1950s was walking home from our neighbor’s house about half a mile away and never missing a word of Hank Williams’ songs. Aunt Agnes and my Mom had their radio volume turned up so that they could go about their business and still hear the music. That was more than 65 years ago. I’m glad that Hank still lives on in his music and in memories.

    Reply
  15. Linda Chipman - January 29, 2018 5:47 pm

    You amaze me Sean. Day after day you write simple, heartwarming words that give me chills and sometimes bring tears to my eyes. Just please keep doing it.

    Reply
  16. Mary Lee - January 29, 2018 8:49 pm

    Wow! Very good. Live your writing.

    Reply
  17. Jackye Thompson - January 29, 2018 8:50 pm

    Your words are like a beautiful English Garden with happy children playing there
    Loved the words.
    Jackye J

    Reply
  18. Jean Percival - January 29, 2018 10:08 pm

    Hope you enjoyed your visit in Montgomery. We’re proud you came to our town. I also read your writings first thing every day. They’re an uplifting way to start the day. Thank you for the small visits to Alabama and The Panhandle….places I grew up in, too. It’s always fun to read about them and the people….good, hard working, patriotic and God fearing people.

    Reply
  19. Kathy Phillips - January 29, 2018 11:38 pm

    Your good.. I see the Light in you. That’s what I look for everytime I meet someone new. Love your story.

    Reply
  20. Kathy Phillips - January 29, 2018 11:41 pm

    When you come to my beautiful town of Wetumpka, Try HogRock BBQ. Best BBQ in Alabama. right off 231. Its the best.

    Reply
  21. Betsy Voss - January 30, 2018 1:09 am

    I had no idea I Saw the Light was written by Hank Williams! Thanks for the education.

    Reply
  22. Susan Hammett Poole - January 30, 2018 12:27 pm

    Wonderful story to start my day with….it “happied me up” and is now causing me to hum and sing a few bars of “I Saw the Light.” Hank was a true poet as well as a great singer of his own songs.

    Reply
  23. Gary - March 24, 2018 11:04 am

    I love all of Hank’s songs. Everyone. The one I miss most to hear is “My Bucket’s Gotta Hole in It.” My daddy use to sing it all the time while I was growing up in Mobile. He’s gone now. Never in a million years did I think my daddy would ever die. I’m in my 60’s now. Still miss him alot.

    Reply
  24. Jeanette - April 22, 2018 8:18 am

    Love your view of life. I never pass reading one of your posts. Such down to earth wisdom from someone so young….yes you are young from my view of years.

    Reply
  25. Judy - April 22, 2018 10:45 am

    Try Country’s BBQ in Montgomery.

    Reply

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