[dropcap]I[/dropcap] ate lunch at Kendall’s Barbecue joint in Georgiana, Alabama. On the bench next to me sat a talkative elderly man named Byron. I was so mesmerized by his stories, I even flipped out my phone audio recorder.
Here’s what he had to say:
“See,” Byron began. “Hank Williams and my oldest sister went to school together, just up the road.”
“Hank Williams?” I asked.
“The one and only,” he said. “My sister fancied herself a musician. She was just about the most horrible thing you ever heard. She played the spoons – and sang too. If you could call it singing.”
“When she was sixteen, Hank’s band stopped through Georgiana. They held a concert down at the Ga-Ana Theatre.” He pointed out the window. “Just down yonder.”
“So, my sister asked Hank if she could sing and play a few tunes with the band. If you can believe it, Hank agreed to let her.” Byron winked. “Hank didn’t know nothing about her singing, he only let her onstage because she cut a fine figure.”
Byron made the shape of an hourglass with his hands.
“Well, the joke was on old Hank,” he said. “When she opened her mouth, everyone cringed. She howled a stanza of Jesus Paid it All. Folks shook their heads, wishing Jesus would’ve only paid half.”
He thumped his hand on the table. “She’s the only person in the world who ever upstaged Hank Williams.”
Finally I interrupted, “What year did this happen?”
Byron patted my shoulder. “Hell, I don’t remember. Truth is, I don’t even have a sister.”