County’s gem hidden in plain view

Published 2:43 pm Tuesday, June 24, 2014

One of my favorite musicians is a fellow named David Wilcox.

He’s a folk singer from Asheville, N.C.

I think he’s a musical genius on par with well-known names like Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Neil Young, and one Hank Williams, Sr.

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My wife thinks he’s tolerable.

On Monday I had the pleasure of sitting down and visiting with Margaret Gaston, the curator of the Hank Williams Boyhood Home and Museum in Georgiana. We sat in one of the rooms of the museum, surrounded by all sorts of Hank Williams, Sr. memorabilia as Hank’s music played quietly in the background. We had a nice visit, and as I was driving back to Greenville, I was reminded of one David Wilcox’s songs.

It starts like this:

“We finally made it to the local museum,

Took Uncle Lester out to see the sights,

Beautiful places but we’ve never seen ‘em,

Though we’ve been living here all our lives,

Ain’t that the truth.

You don’t get it when you got it,

You can’t see it when it’s in plain view,

Don’t ask a fish about the water,

You never notice what you’re right next to,

When it’s in plain view.”

The Hank Williams, Sr. Boyhood Home and Museum is a little something like the museum David too his Uncle Lester to visit.

In the entryway there are two maps — a world map and a map of the United States. Pushpins on the maps show the hometowns of all the visitors that tour the museum.

There are pushpins in nearly all 50 states and places as far off as Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

But to us hometown folks the museum us largely ignored, with the exception of one weekend a year when the Hank Williams, Sr. Festival is held in Georgiana.

I confess I’m guilty.

On more than one occasion, Miss Margaret has offered to give me a guided tour of the museum and I’ve yet to take here up on it.

I’d call the museum a hidden gem in our community, but the truth is it’s right there in plain view on Rose Street.

Like David Wilcox said, “You don’t get it when you got it, you can’t see it when it’s in plain view.”

From my short visit, I can tell you that folks that aren’t from around here don’t take the museum from granted. When I arrived there was a visitor from Oakland, Calif., getting the grand tour. As I was leaving a couple on their way home from the beach stopped in after seeing a sign on the interstate.

The museum is filled with items that tell the story of one of Butler County’s most famous sons — a man that was one of the very first country music superstars. But you don’t have to be a Hank Williams, Sr. fan to enjoy the museum. In telling Hank’s story, the curators of the museum have also painted a picture of what Georgiana and Butler County were like in the 1920s through the 1950s.

The museum also features one of the true gems of our community in Miss Margaret.

Miss Margaret is an expert on all things Hank and one of the nicest folks you’ll meet.

I’d encourage everyone to play the role of a tourist for a few hours and visit the museum and let Miss Margaret school you on Hank. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.