Monday, January 03, 2005
Homage to Hank: Passion leads fans on journey halfway across globe
Ryns Boschma followed his ears and his heart to southern West Virginia on his way to fulfilling a pilgrimage that started two decades earlier and culminated this week at a small Mercer County bridge named in honor of the legendary Hank Williams Sr.
No one actually knows where Williams drew his final breath in the late night of Dec. 31, 1952, or early morning hours of Jan. 1, 1953. Williams was 31 at the time of his death. He was on his way to a concert date in Ohio when his driver stopped in Bluefield to pick up a relief driver between 10 and 10:30 p.m., on Dec. 31. He was found dead in the back seat of his vehicle at the old Pure Oil Station in Oak Hill about six or seven hours later.
He was at the Mercer County bridge near Spanishburg named for Williams Tuesday afternoon.
"I first became curious about Hank Williams in the 1980s when I saw his photograph on the cover of an album I saw at a library," Boschma said in near-flawless English. "I was curious about his looks. His white suit and white hat made him look different. It wasn't very hip to look like that in the '80s."
Boschma borrowed the record from the library and was immediately moved by Williams' music. "I liked the emotion and I liked his words," he said. "I liked how he worked his phrases and sentences and the simplicity of his music. His music made me very quiet. When I was 20 years old, I was a little wild."
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Bluefield Daily Dispatch