I was over at BWH's site and read about Long John Hunter, the Blues man and it got me to thinking about the past. I mean the far past! It made me remember the most exciting day, up to that time, of my life; The day I shared a bottle of booze with Hank Williams!
When I was 12 to 14 I used to go to the Riverbank Club House dance hall, a big barn in the little town of Riverbank. I grew up in Modesto and Riverbank was about ten or so miles from Modesto.
A local disc-jockey named Chester Smith rented the dance hall in Riverbank and contracted for big name Hillbilly singers to come there. Marty Robbins, Johnny and Jack and Kitty Wells, Hank Snow, Lefty Frizzel and a lot more came there during a three year period. But I guess the best of them to come there was Hank Williams. I think it was in 1951.
The club house was a great big barn affair that had been finished inside and had a large band stand in the far end, straight back from the door. No drinking of alcoholic beverages was allowed inside. That way us kids, along with anyone else who had a buck and a quarter, could get in and dance and listen to the music. It was great! (The photo above isn't Riverbank.)
In my younger days I drank mostly Seagram Seven Crown straight whiskey. That is, whenever the other boys and I could get someone to buy it for us.
My step brother, Floyd, and Donald and Utah and I usually went to the dance together. We did on the night Hank Williams was there. We got there after the music had started and took a drink apiece and went inside and looked for a seat.
The seats were benches that ran along each wall and there were a few tables. We were about as young as anyone who went to the dance there. Needless to say, some of us didn't do much dancing!
Anyhow, Hank was singing when we went in and I found a place to stand where I could watch him. He had on his white suit with white cowboy boots and a white cowboy hat, like the suit in the photo above. (Come to think of it, it might have been his brown suit) He looked great, even though he was skinny as a rail! And he sounded great!
When Hank and the band took a twenty minute break, we went back out to the car. We had found a parking place right next to the back door and were standing there, passing the bottle around when a voice said, "Where can a fellow get a drink around here?" I looked up and there was Hank Williams!
It just happened that I had the bottle. I said we sure did and handed the bottle of Seagram Seven Crown to him. He wiped the mouth of the bottle on his sleeve and took a pull on the bottle. He smacked his lips and handed it back and I passed it around.
WE ALL TOLD HANK HOW MUCH WE ENJOYED HIS SINGING . WE CHATTED A WHILE AND PASSED THE BOTTLE AROUND AGAIN. AFTER THE THIRD ROUND HANK LOOKED AT HIS WATCH AND SAID, "WELL, BOYS, IT'S ABOUT TIME TO GO BACK TO WORK. THANKS FOR THE DRINK." THEN HE SHOOK HANDS WITH EACH OF US AND HE LEFT.'oops'
We went back in and listened until it was closing time and we left. I'll never forget that night. It was the most exciting thing up to then that had ever happened to me. Hank died shortly afterwards.