28: More Hank Williams

So, here, as promised, is the follow-up to my last post on Hank Williams! This will be my attempted recollections of what happened when I visited the Hank Williams Museum in downtown Montgomery on April the 18th, 2013. 😀

The first thing that happened at the Museum was that we had to make sure that it was actually open. It’s really hard to tell with this particular museum, as there aren’t really any lights in the “lobby”, and there’s no obnoxiously flashing “OPEN” sign to let you know which one it is. So we peeked in the extraordinarily low windows, and as there was a person sitting (or rather standing) at the front desk, we figured that it was probably safe to go in.
It costs $10 per person age 15 and above, and $3 for anyone 14 or below. Because of this pricing scheme, only I and my two teenage twin friends went in to the museum proper, while their mom waited in the lobby.

(And do please pardon me all my “if I’m not mistaken”s and my “I do believe”s: if I had been permitted to take photographs of the interior of the museum it would be considerably easier to recall, but as it is, my long-term memory is not the best, especially 10 days later when I’ve had to memorise other things in the meantime and I’ve almost definitely forgotten things about the museum. My sincerest apologies. [If you want to either double-check my memories or see what I’m describing for yourself, please, by all means, visit the museum on your own: I will be in no way offended.])

As I may have mentioned in my previous post, it was slightly confusing in terms of where to start, but the ladies at the desk pointed us at the entrance and so, obligingly, we entered. There was a speaker just as you entered the museum which was playing Hank Williams songs (no really! I never would’ve guessed!) and as you passed by it, you also saw a desk that he would write songs at, as well as some hand-written sheet music and certificates for various things – mostly prizes, if I’m not mistaken. After the first little entrance part made of wooden dividers directing you the first 4 feet or so, it was a basically a do-it-yourself tour: go where you will, see what you want. The wall that extended from the first little directional area had a few posters for Hank Williams concerts, at least one of which was surrounded by flashing lights.

The main museum space was mostly taken up by the car in which Hank Williams died, presumably from heart failure, at the age of 29. The car is a baby blue Cadillac (don’t ask me the model; I have absolutely no idea as cars don’t particularly interest me) and seemed fairly massive, although that could be related to the fact that the museum was small and so anything larger than probably 20 feet long would seem massive in that space. The car was surrounded by ropes and signs reading “DO NOT TOUCH” which seemed fairly obvious to me, as it would be a tiny bit morbid to sit in the same seat as someone who had died… 0_o But nevertheless, those signs were there. There was a plaque/paper-taped-to-a-pedestal with a snippet of information about the car and Hank’s death, but to be honest, I have no recollection of what it said. Most likely, because I wasn’t really reading to remember…

Near the front of the car, but far enough away that they could both have fences/railings and still have a fairly wide thoroughfare betwixt them, there was a couch that had something to do with Hank: most likely it was the couch that was owned by his family that he had grown up playing on that had been donated to the museum. There was a handmade blanket thrown over the back, but I don’t remember whether someone had knitted it for Hank’s family when he was a baby or if it had been knitted specifically for the museum.
Next to the car, but still inside the ropes, was a bronze bust of Hank that had been cast/sculpted/whatever-you-do-with-bronze for a city that was closely related to Hank for a memorial service after he died. Perched on the bust’s head was one of Hank’s hats, which looked exactly like it had been made specifically as part of the statue, but what was in reality a hat that Hank had actually worn to performances and things that had then been coated in bronze to preserve it for as long as the bronze lasted. {And I do actually remember that, because I thought it was really cool. XD}

There were two or three little rooms jutting off the big room with the car, and those, one would think, would have the most interesting stuff. One of them sort of did, but the other (I believe there were) two rooms were actually quite…I guess I’ll say it…They were boring. One of the rooms – about all I can remember of it is that there was some sort of documentary up on a TV, or perhaps it was just a collection of bits of black-and-white film of performances in which Hank sang. I think there were also a few paintings or something up on the walls, but for the most part, the TV was the extent of that room.
The other room I remember was a bunch of tall display cases, filled with records, photographs, hats, boots, and sheet music. There may have even been a suit jacket or two, and a couple of instruments. The sheet music and the photographs were mildly interesting, I will readily admit. Something I found a bit confusing is that in some of the photographs they referred to Hank Williams and in some they referred to Hank Williams Jr. and in some they referred to both, and it wasn’t until we’d gone through practically the entire museum before I realised that Hank Williams Jr. was a completely different person to Hank Williams: his son, to be exact. Also, in the 29 years that Hank Williams was alive, it appeared (based on the facts in the museum that I shall double-check at the end of this post) that Hank married two women, had two children with one of them, and then had another child with another woman that he may or may not have been married to. He got around in those few years, didn’t he? XD 😛
The last thing I remember about the offshoot rooms was either in another room filled partially with display cases or in a room of its own, but either way, it was a quilt hanging on the wall with a stand next to it holding a piece of paper. The paper said something to the point of “This quilt was made by (blank) of (blank) Alabama for Hank Williams and the Hank Williams Museum. Please research this person at (web address) and help support the arts in Alabama.” Or something similar enough to that that it made me question whether that person hadn’t just donated a quilt as a promotional item… In that same room, and I do believe it was actually a third room, there were several other items that had only a small connection if any to Hank, and so I really don’t feel that that room was necessary, or if it was, perhaps it would’ve been better as part of the lobby, and not as part of the museum proper, such that it was.

The last part I wish to mention about the actual exhibits in the Hank Williams museum will hopefully be more concise than the rest of this post, since as of this word there are 1285 words already in this post. *coughs and faints with astonishment* *revives* Goodness me, I’ll definitely try to go faster!
The remainder of the body of the museum (in the same general space as the aforementioned couch, car, and bust) was filled with display cases and another fenced-off area, containing a kitchen set. The display cases housed Hank’s suits, hats, and boots, as well as more photographs and memorabilia. One of the cases not placed against the wall contained the piano that Hank had played on; either when he was taking lessons as a boy, or when he was composing and teaching his children how to play the piano, I don’t remember which. It was a surprisingly tiny upright piano, which both puzzled and pleased me, as I play piano, like piano very much, and live in a house with two pianos.
The kitchen set – i.e. table, chairs, rug, fake counters and cabinets, pictures, and bit of framed hand-painted wallpaper – was that of Hank’s wife Audrey’s kitchen when they were both alive (his wife may still be alive for all I know, but obviously Hank isn’t) and living with their two children. It was very pretty, but seemed rather incongruous, and also as if it shouldn’t really be there.

And that concludes my account of my trip to the Hank Williams Museum in downtown Montgomery, Alabama. Of course we did actually exit the museum proper afterwards and rejoined my friends’ mom in the lobby where I/we proceeded to take the pictures I posted two blog posts ago and stare at the large carving of an Indian that prompted one of Hank’s most popular songs, then politely said goodbye to the lady at the front desk and proceeded to exchange words of pointlessness once outside the building, but as that isn’t nearly as interesting as the actual museum itself, and as it doesn’t take very long to write, I needn’t bore you with the details of our departure, and suffice it to say that we left thereafter.
I am glad that I visited the Hank Williams Museum at least once before I move away. I wouldn’t necessarily want to go there again, but at least now I can say that I went, and that I now know more about Hank Williams than I did before. I hope you enjoyed my retelling as much as I enjoyed my visit *cough*, and I also hope that if you’re interested in seeing the museum without my excess of qualifiers that you’ll see the museum for yourself. Until then!

Read on!!

 

 

 

:EDIT: Hank’s wife was named Audrey, not Minnie. He had only two children, not three. Hank Williams, Jr. was with his first wife, Audrey Sheppard. His daughter, Jett, was conceived with another woman named Bobbie Jett while he was getting a divorce from Audrey. He divorced Audrey in May of 1952. He married his second wife, Billie Jean Jones, in October of 1952. Hank Williams died in January, 1953.

29: Holocaust Education Program

I went to the AUM Holocaust Education Program this morning at the AUM Physical Education Complex, and not only was it wonderfully informative and very powerful and moving, but I got credit for three separate classes (out of the five I’m taking this semester). I’m not sure which one I’m more interested in… XD

Here are some pictures that I took at the Program. I apologise for the terrible quality of the photos: I was on the balcony, attempting to zoom in on the main floor with my rather terrible iPod Touch camera. I’ll give you a description of each picture, and hopefully you can figure out which part of the picture I’m talking about. ^_^

K iTouch Pics 04242013 042

This is a picture of the projector board at the Education Program: it says (or should say…) “Auburn University Montgomery Holocaust Education Program April 24, 2013” or something very similar to that… XDK iTouch Pics 04242013 043

This is a picture of some of the posterboards set up around the gym and also the candles that were lit for the Candle-Lighting Remembrance Ceremony (no really… XP).K iTouch Pics 04242013 044

Aaaaaand a random photographer guy taking pictures of the posterboards I was taking pictures of…K iTouch Pics 04242013 045

This is actually a rather good picture… Sorry random person whose head is in the frame. XD This is the candle-lighting ceremony that I mentioned in the previous picture: a reverend from Alabama State University and a rabbi from Montgomery are lighting the candles, while another rabbi from Montgomery is standing at the podium. (I know one of the rabbis is from Montgomery because I’ve sung at Temple Beth Or where he preaches [if that’s the word], but I don’t really know where the other one’s from.)K iTouch Pics 04242013 046

A close up of the same candle-lighting ceremony… K iTouch Pics 04242013 048

This is the director of the History Department at the podium, and a Holocaust survivor and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor sitting at the table. I’m fairly sure that their names are Max Helzer and Denise Roberts.K iTouch Pics 04242013 049

And a close-up…K iTouch Pics 04242013 050

Umm… I think this is someone else on the faculty of AUM at the podium and the two speakers still at the table, but I could be wrong. Sadly, I don’t remember what it actually is… XDK iTouch Pics 04242013 051

This is the dean of the School of Sciences at AUM at the podium, and again the two speakers at the table. This was very near the end of the program.

What I didn’t take pictures of was the part of the Frontline documentary, called “Memory of the Camps”, which is a documentary made out of film taken by film crews who travelled with the American & British liberation troops who went to the Nazi concentration camps. We only were shown the bits on Bergen-Belsen, which was probably sufficient, but very informative and fascinating, though probably because of the sheer number of images from the camp. I am very interested in seeing the rest of it, if I can find it, and I would very highly recommend at least the parts of it that I saw to anyone interested in the Holocaust. Of course, there is a warning for disturbing images, but as this is the Holocaust we’re talking about, it shouldn’t be really a surprise. (I’m sorry, that was rude. … But it is true. XD)

I am very glad that I was able to go to AUM’s Holocaust Education Program, and I’m very grateful that Dr. Woodworth allowed us to go to this Program if we wanted instead of class. (Of course, because she has bronchitis there wouldn’t have been class anyway, but she’d promised to let us go even before she came down with bronchitis. Get better soon Dr. Woodworth!!) I immensely enjoyed every minute of it, which is true, but also sounds like I’m a horrible person because the Holocaust isn’t really something you’d use the word “enjoy” to describe. But the words “interested”, “fascinated”, and “moved by” don’t quite seem like the words to describe my feelings properly. “Enjoyed” isn’t quite it either, but it’ll have to do for now. And with that, I leave you. I fully intend to learn as much about the Holocaust through future programs and memorials as I possibly can, and I hope you will too, as the Holocaust is an event that needs to be remembered.

Remember on.

27: Hank Williams

As part of the research for my final project for my second semester of Honors English Composition, I visited the Hank Williams Museum in downtown Montgomery. Now, I’ve seen and passed by this museum for the past eight years that I’ve lived in Montgomery. I know that Hank Williams was born in Montgomery. I’ve driven (when I say ‘driven’…) on the highway that was named for him. While visiting my stepdad’s family plot in a cemetery downtown, we drove by his grave and I got to see it. But somehow, in all this time, I’d never actually been in the museum. Quite astonishing, really. XD

If you are 15 years old or older, the museum costs $10 apiece (an outrageous price, really). It’s $3 for those between the ages of 2 and 14, and free for those under two.
The museum itself is a tiny low storefront next to a hotel, and it always looks closed, even though it’s apparently usually open. It’s very inconspicuous, and so probably no wonder that I’d never actually been in there.
You can’t take pictures of the inside of the museum, but you are allowed to take pictures of the lobby, such that it is. Or rather, isn’t. So the pictures that I’m about to post in this post and the pictures that I’ll post on my project page and on my Padlet poster are from the lobby of the museum and from online; none from when I was actually allowed into the museum with two of my friends.

K iTouch Pics 04212013 068 K iTouch Pics 04212013 069

I should’ve taken a picture of the gigantic Indian statue that was in the middle of the “lobby”, which was apparently for his song “Kowaniga” (I think that’s what it’s called), and which had the signatures of a bunch of people on it, but I didn’t think it was that important. Perhaps I’ll find a picture online somewhere.

So that’s my short little picture post about the Hank Williams Museum. Perhaps soon I’ll actually write about what I saw in the museum itself, as some of it was fairly cool… *shrugs* Okay, one of his suits was pretty awesome. But the rest of it was just okay. XD

Laterz!!

Read on!! <3

1: Montgomery Memorialized

So Montgomery. The town I’ve lived in (or near) for almost 8 years now. And yet, the only time I really explored and paid attention to its history was for one afternoon in a mad dash, taking pictures of memorials for my Montgomery memorial book. Sad, no?

I’m supposed to include a picture of some monument or memorial somewhere in Montgomery, and tell what it means to me and why I chose to include it in this post. Brilliant idea, but which picture? I took quite a few that afternoon, and found several more online. What memorial means the most to me? I’ve visited the trolley at Union Station quite often, so I could include the picture of that plaque. I go to Maxwell Air Force Base practically every week, and I lived there for a year, so I could very well include one of those plaques, but I don’t know as I ever actually read any of the plaques before I went exploring. I could post a picture of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, or of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, but those buildings aren’t memorial buildings, and the only memorial statues on the grounds are of Shakespeare and William Blount, and neither played a major role in either the Civil War or the Civil Rights movement (besides the fact that I don’t have a picture of either of those statues). I could definitely include a picture of the Civil Rights Memorial, but I’ve never been there, so it would be awkward trying to define what it means to me if I’ve never really seen it. So what picture to choose? The truly terrible picture of Old Alabama Town that I took while dashing into the middle of the street after making sure no cars were coming? It’s the back of the town, so you can’t really see anything. One of the plaques that I’ve already mentioned and given reasons for not choosing it?

K iTouch 12032012 121 This is the plaque in front of the Biscuits Riverwalk Baseball Stadium in downtown Montgomery. I chose it because this is one of the very few plaques I had actually read in Montgomery before the final project last semester. Before nearly every baseball game I’ve attended at that stadium (which are quite a few), I’ve run over and read this plaque. I don’t know what draws me to it: perhaps the sadness held in its words and in the stones of the building, perhaps just that it’s something to do while you’re waiting, perhaps because I’ve read it so many times it’s become a habit or a tradition to read it every time I visit the stadium. Whatever the reason is, this is the memorial that means the most to me in Montgomery. It isn’t much compared to some other memorials, but it’s “my” memorial, and is one of my favorite parts of what I suppose I must call my home town.

Do Not Research This Book

Okay, sorry, I had to start that way. That’s what my English teacher said immediately after handing us copies of a chapter from a book that she would not tell us the name of. She didn’t even tell us the name of the author! No idea why, but I’m hoping she’ll tell us more next class period. “Do not look up this book!” she said. “Don’t even try to find it on Google!” Why? No idea. However, I shall continue on with my post about this most mysterious chapter anyhow. And so.

The chapter, “I Had a Dream,” starts off with the author arriving in Montgomery, Alabama. He says that he sees a sign as he enters Montgomery, which, having lived here for half my life, surprised me as I have never seen it. Then again, this book was written in the 1990’s, and I didn’t move to Montgomery until 2005. The first place he visits is the Capitol building on Goat Hill (a name which has always cracked me up) and he joins a school tour of homeschoolers (woot woot!) who are touring the Capitol building. Did you know I’ve never toured the Capitol? That’s rather sad… Anyways. He makes an interesting observation that the tour guide is black, but all the governors and all of the tour group are white. I’m only about three pages in, and already I can tell it’s going to be an interesting perspective on race in the South. He also mentions quite a lot about the Civil War and the Confederacy (something I’ve always known was in Alabama, and have tried assiduously to avoid) and the Civil Rights movement (something I’m the tiniest bit more interested in), and I was immediately interested to hear what he had to say. I may not like all the violence associated with Alabama in general and Montgomery in particular, but I’m curious to know what other people think about it. The homeschoolers he spoke to (actually the homeschool parents) seemed to be skimming over the issues of slavery and what the Civil War was actually fought over, but later on in the chapter he brings up things other people say pointing to an idea that no one really knows what the Civil War was fought over, or at least, everyone disagrees for the most part.

After his brief stint admiring the fact that monuments recognizing white people adjoin equally large (or small) monuments recognizing black people all over Montgomery, he takes a trip to Selma. Here I learned something new: the Selma to Montgomery march was not completely peaceful. Police were actually very cruel to the marchers at the Selma bridge, and undoubtedly killed quite a few of them, though the author never explicitly said so. Somehow I had always been under the impression that the march was, if not entirely peaceful, more peaceful than his and others’ descriptions of “Bloody Sunday”. The author visited a school here (I suppose his book is about his travels to see what school-children learn about the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement) to see and hear what they were learning and what they thought about the Civil War and Civil Rights. He made some visits to the local memorials and museums also, and spoke to residents of Selma, the curators (I believe?) of the museums, and even the mayor of Selma, who had been mayor on Bloody Sunday. The people he spoke to – the mayor, the people at the museums, and the teachers and school-children – all seemed nice enough until he brought up race and the Civil War and Civil Rights. Then they all seemed to be somewhat racist against whatever race it was they were not. Perhaps “somewhat racist” is too mild a term, but I am not entirely sure what the correct one would be. Perhaps if you read that chapter, you could tell me. Of course, I have no idea how you’d find the chapter, seeing as how I have no idea what the book is called…

The author’s final visit was to Greenville, Alabama, where he visited a school that was integrated, but where the students segregated themselves by force of habit and not by conscious decision or by enforced rules. At that school, the teacher didn’t even teach the Civil War, because at that time Alabama didn’t require history teachers to teach American history before 1877. Makes it quite simple to skip over the nasty parts, wouldn’t you agree?

I have no idea what the author (whatever his name may be) got or hoped to get out of his visit, as I have no way of reading the rest of the book, but I can tell that this chapter is a good preview of what I and my Honors English class will be doing the rest of the year. I still don’t like what happened during the Civil War, and some parts of the Civil Rights movement are still too sad and bloody for me to enjoy, but reading this chapter has made me quite curious to go and explore the monuments, memorials, and museums in both Montgomery and Selma. It rather irks me that I’ve lived in Montgomery half my life, and I had never heard of a big black wall covered in names from the Selma-Montgomery march that apparently resides somewhere in downtown Montgomery. Sheltered, much? I hope you find my explorations of memorials as exciting as I hope I will. And in the meantime, don’t research this book. My English teacher will be very upset if you do.

Read on, dear fellows, read on! (Just… not this book, okay? 🙂