Adding to Hank’s legend

Published 4:46 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dozens of Hank Williams’ family, friends and fans gathered in Andalusia Monday morning for the unveiling of a historic marker and the celebration of a special wedding anniversary.

The marker, placed on the corner of Historic Central Street and East Three Notch Street, adds Andalusia to the historic Hank Williams Trail. The city joins Mount Olive, Georgiana, Greenville, Montgomery, Kowliga and Birmingham on the trail of markers placed in remembrance of the late country legend.

“This is a very special day in Andalusia,” Mayor Earl Johnson said. “We are so very honored to have another rich piece of our city’s history highlighted and to have so many very special guests among us today.”

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Local historian Sidney Waits said he feels the marker serves as an excellent addition to the state’s already colorful history.

“I can remember when Hank would play at the Riverside Inn down in River Falls,” he said. “My mother would not let us go inside, but we would drive down and park outside in our Model A Ford. They would normally keep the shutters open and we would sit and listen to Hank play.

“I think the Hank Williams Trail is certainly an excellent addition to the history of Alabama.”

Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department, said Monday’s marker unveiling, which took place exactly on the 64-year anniversary of Hank Williams’ marriage to Audrey Sheppard on Dec. 15, 1944, represented a great deal of planning.

“This is an event two and half years in the making,” he said. “This marker has been in our basement for about two years. We just wanted to wait until we had some Williams family royalty and that is what we have here today.”

Cecil Jackson, curator of the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, said he feels the Andalusia trail marker will be a welcome addition for fans that often travel great distances to view the trail.

“That trail maybe starts in Andalusia, Birmingham or Montgomery, but it goes around the world,” he said. “You never know who might show up at the museum. We have had people come from Japan and you might as well be quiet when they walk in the door. Most of the time they can give us a tour of the museum. They know exactly why they came to Alabama.”

Lycrecia Williams Hoover, Hank Williams’ stepdaughter who was 2 years old when the country singer wed her mother, said she is constantly amazed by the continued interest in her father’s life.

“I am so thrilled to witness this event today,” she said. “It is unbelievable to me that after all these years he still has so many fans. The older I get, the more touched I am by these dedications to the memory of my father.”