He Was Ours

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ank used to practice guitar underneath this house,” the old woman told me. “That’s because it’s cool down there, during the summer.”

The old woman’s name was Margaret. She gave me a tour of Hank Williams’ boyhood home, located in the sleepy town of Georgianna, Alabama. She and I were the only two souls in that quiet clapboard house. The tour was five dollars, but I suspected she was giving me the five-hundred-dollar tour.

Since I was Tuesday’s only visitor.

Miss Margaret is eighty-eight years old, and she’s sweet as syrup. A stroke has paralyzed half of her face, but her brain works faster than mine. She’s lived in Georgianna since 1951. She and her friend run the Hank Williams place, which is open six days a week. They’ve given the same five-dollar tours to George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Merel Haggard, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings.

And me.

She showed me everything there was to see. Where Hank practiced guitar, his favorite climbing trees, and where he’d shoot squirrels.

“The thing about Hank,” she explained. “He sang for you and me. He played music for real folks. We were regular-hard-working-folks, and he was one of us.”

She smiled a crooked smile. “It was more than just music. It was my generation. Those are the songs of our youth. It’s what we danced to. Hank was ours. He was Alabama.” She shook her head. “Music just ain’t homemade like that today, and I don’t think it’ll be quite like that ever again.”

No ma’am.

I don’t believe it will.

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