Hank Sr. was influenced by the railroad

Published 4:33 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2015

As a boy growing up, Hank Williams Sr. would often sit around the Georgiana L&N Railroad depot and write poems. He also shined shoes at that depot. That’s what my cousin Albert McGill Jr. told my dad and I when we visited on occasions in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

According to Albert, the Williams family moved to Georgiana from a small community southwest of there. Quite naturally he had not become popular as a recording artist back then and there was no reason to pay any particular attention to him.

Albert’s dad was the depot agent, having moved with his family from Canoe. Following college, where he studied to become a lawyer, Albert said he returned to Georgiana and set up a law practice and helped his brothers set up a Chevrolet dealership. By this time, Williams had a made a name for himself and had become even more popular by his early-age death.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

It was then that Albert began to research Williams’ time here and quizzed many local residents who could relate incidents in Williams’ life. He got a lot of information about Williams from his automobile customers and clients from his law practice.

He also said one older man who sat on the depot platform knew quite a bit about his childhood. He said this old man would sometimes tell him about Williams’ father being sick for a long period of time before he eventually went into a veterans’ hospital. He said that old man told him young Williams hitchhiked in and out of Georgiana.

Albert believed it was the consensus of those growing up with Williams that those poems were actually songs that became popular after Williams died.

Albert said he did not follow closely the singer’s career and it was after Williams died that he initiated his research.

During the 1950s Williams’ hometown reached a summit of popularity of abnormal proportions, Albert said. “Book writers, movie producers and various dignitaries were always at our office wanting information”, Albert related.

Eventually a museum in his honor was established in Georgiana and it is visited often by tourists and fans of Williams.

Those of you in the Robinsonville community may remember Albert’s son Rev. Albert Oliver McGill. He served as pastor of the Baptist church there several years ago.

Mentioning those L&N depot agents reminds me of those men who worked in that profession in the “heyday” of passenger trains. I think of Mr. John Weekley, Mr. Ryals, J C Wright, Freddie Centenni, Clyde Weekley and my uncles Bert and Albert McGill Sr.

But when the passenger trains went by the wayside, so did the railroad agent. Perhaps if Amtrak gets back into operation we will again see a “depot agent” return to Atmore.

It was a big day in France this past week as delegates from the Mobile area and state were on hand seeking out warehouse, supply house and related Airbus “offshoot” businesses. Yes, several area Chambers of Commerce sent representatives over there in efforts to gain business for their respective hometowns. And the news was good for some as announcements of businesses coming to our area are now forthcoming.

These foresighted organizations will soon see the fruit of their efforts materializing. These “offshoot” firms need to be constantly informed that Atmore has one of the easiest off I-65 exits from Mobile. Only Bay Minette has a better exit. And, south Baldwin County is crippled by its extra ordinary amount of traffic and no interstate.

Now, let’s take a look at some news from days gone by.
In 1970 Dutch Dietz, a former Atmore resident, landed a prestigious job as a glamour model in New York. Her great-aunt was Mrs. E.D. Fore.

W.C. Barrineau of Barrineau Park was named Florida’s Farmer of The Year. He was known to several businessmen here, as well as to local residents.
The 1970 Escambia County Singing Convention hosted a five state “Sing” in Brewton. This is better known as “Shape Note Singing” which is performing in A cappella style (singing without instrumental accompaniment).
Our own D.V. Johnson, president of the county chapter, was the master of ceremonies.

Don’t get caught up with misrepresenting your education experience or work experience on your resume of application for employment. That’s what happened to the daughter of my friend over in Louisiana.

She had already been given a nice job only to have it stripped from her when it was learned she lied on the resume. She listed a college a degree that she did not receive. My friend said it was a new upstart business from Texas that uncovered her fallacies.

So, be careful what you write into these applications. It may prove embarrassing and could cause you to lose your job.

More next week.

You can email Lowell McGill at exam@frontiernet.net.