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THE LONESOME HIGHWAY

lonesome highway

Mobile is like a lite version of New Orleans, but it’s half the distance and half price of a trip to the Big Easy. Clista and I love Mobile and try to visit at least twice a year. Mobile has about three blocks of Dauphin Street instead of Bourbon, no strippers, fewer bars and nowhere near the obnoxious Yankee tourists. Café Noja is the equal to any restaurant in the Crescent City and Wintzell’s oysters are as good as the Acme or Felix’s. Mobile even has its own Mardi Gras, which pre-dates the New Orleans version by fifteen years. You get a lot of bang for your buck in Mobile.

Dauphin St

A couple of weeks ago we made our semi-annual trek down I-65, and as usual, we planned to stop in Evergreen to pick up some of Alabama’s world class Conecuh sausage. Just south of Greenville I saw the sign that always catches my eye. This segment of I-65 is named “The Lonesome Highway” in honor of my favorite country singer, Hank Williams, Sr. Every time we drive by I say we ought to stop and visit his Museum in Georgiana, Alabama. This trip we did just that.

When we entered the little village we followed the signs directing us to The Hank Williams Museum, and we soon came upon a large two story white house with a couple of pickups parked in the yard, and large sign proclaiming it to be the National Headquarters of the Hank Williams, Sr. Fan Club. I’m not sure just what we were expecting, but it wasn’t this. I just assumed the museum would be in a much more modest house, after all, Hank grew up poor.

There was a light rain falling, and I figured that Clista, who doesn’t know Kitty Wells from Mineral Wells, would be satisfied to say that we had seen it and keep on moving. Surprisingly, she suggested that we brave the rain and go in and check it out. (I owe her at least one trip to a hardware store for this gesture. She might not know Lester Flatt from Yucca Flats, but she is a real tool maven and loves Ace Hardware and the ilk.)

Once inside the Club house we were greeted by a group of Hank’s fans from the local area, and treated to a guided tour of his music and memorabilia. Personally, I believe Hank Williams, Sr. to be one of the great American poets and our leading folk singer. At one time, back in the vinyl days, I had a copy of every song that was commercially available, including all of his “Luke the Drifter” singles and transcripts of many of his early radio shows. I still love Hank’s music.

hank willliams

While we waited for the rain to let up so we could get back on the road, I managed to spend close to a hundred bucks buying books about Hank and joining the fan club. I’ve never been a groupie and I’ve always said that there were only three people I’d ask for an autograph or join their fan club: Hank Williams, Ted Williams and Winston Churchill. At least I finally found one of them.

The rain finally slacked up enough for us to run to the car, and as we drove up the street I saw a more modest building housing the Hank Williams Museum. I was about to pull over and stop, when Clista suggested that we ought to head on to Evergreen and eat lunch at The Conecuh Sausage Company. I decided that I had pushed her far enough for one day, and agreed to hit the highway. Besides, I’ve got my eyes on coming back to Georgiana in June for the 35th Annual Hank Williams Festival. This might cost me a trip to the Stanley Tool Museum in New Britain, Ct or a weekend at Bass Pro stores — another of Clista’s go-to sites.

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12 replies »

  1. When I was “on the road” for 28 years I made a trip from my home on the Miss. Coast to North Carolina upwards of 60 times. I found that I-65 between Mobile and Montgomery was the longest 180 plus miles in the country. Heading north you would see a sign that said “Montgomery 98 miles”. 20 minutes later (at somewhere between 70 and 80 MPH) another sign would appear ‘Montgomery 86 miles”. Do you experience this phenomenon on your treks to Mobile and back?

    Also, you mentioned Yucca Flats in your blog. Didn’t we mix up batches of Yucca Flats in gallon jugs “back in the day”?

  2. Dicky, good to hear from you. I’ll confirm that I-65 between Montgomery and Mobile is pretty desolate, particularly from Evergreen south. As to Yucca Flats my most vivid memory was a weekend when we were snowed in a MSU and all we had to drink was a gallon of lab alcohol that Noel Funchess had distilled. All of the residents of A Hull stayed comatose for the whole weekend while someone’s stereo played the theme from “A Summer Place” over and over.

  3. Tommy,

    Thanks for this information. It’s nice to have an alternative to New Orleans. Do you have a recommendation on lodging there?

    Thanks,

    Gerald Lee

    • Rat, Of course I do. Clista and I usually stay at the Downtown Hampton Inn because I have a burch of Hilton Honors points. If we were paying cash I would choose the Malaga Inn on Church street. The Malaga is a B&B on steriods. Cozy and romantic,but with most of the ammenities of a hotel. It’s just a block off Government Street in the heart of Mobile’s historic district. Check it out. Be sure and have dinner at Cafe Noja!

  4. Great story, Tom. I spend most of my time in Mobile now, as you know. Please let me know when you are next in the area. I would enjoy your company and have a few restaurants to add to your list!

  5. Deo – great piece on Hank (You dont hafta call me mister, mister, the whole world calls me Hank) and Clista. Thanks. I am in the middle of “My Magic Year”and as the season unfolded, I got more and nore excited. Of, course you know I am a Razorback fan, being from Arkansas and living in Fayetteville since 1976 about 2 miles from campus and representing Hog athletes over the years when they got into trouble, but the Dogs are still major in my heart and I was as thrilled (well, almost) as you were during your magic year. I am so glad we re-connected and that I am getting all your blogs and e-mails.. Keep up what you are doing and keep me in mind. J. Rose III

    • Rose, I’m cool with the Hogs, especially when they play the Black Bears from Oxford. If you represented Petrino you earned your fee. I am writing a novel set with some of the action set in 1960-1964 and I have a young Lt. in Army intellgence that is investigating the Klan, guess who the character is based on? I might even include our meeting at the Atlanta Airport when you first got back from SE Asia. I’ll never forget your dramatic enterance into the bar. Seems like at least forty years ago, Oh, yeah it was.

      Tommy

  6. Tommy, I pass through Georgiana every time I go to Auburn.
    I have been to the museum !
    We had to wake the lady up that was supposed to be on duty.
    Jackie

    • Things are kinda quiet in Georgiana. If you think the museum is casual check out the fan club down the street, but they are keeping the legacy of the greatest country singer and songwriter alive and that is a good thing.

  7. Tommy, Loved your Hank Williams story! The Mobile connection reminded me of childhood trips to Lucedale, MS, a short distance from Mobile. My Aunt Meida and Uncle “T” Bounds lived there and both worked in their Western Auto store. It was on the main highway from Hattisburg to Mobile. Next to their store was the Three Sisters’ Cafe – a must stop when travelling that way. Western Autos were the last generation’s version of Ace Hardware, and you could find anything from fishing lures (my favorite items) to clothes washers to auto tires to tools and more. During the annual summer visit to Lucedale from Jackson, Uncle “T” would let me roam his Western Auto store and pick out one gift item. Man, was that exciting! Too bad that they are all gone now. Clista would have loved brousing and shopping at Uncle “T’s”!

  8. Good stuff! I am familiar with Evergreen, AL. For many years Anne and I took the kids to Navarre Beach, FL. We would get off I 65 at Evergreen. Now I know about Conecuh sausage and will get some on our next trip. Thanks. GBM

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