I HEARD THAT LONESOME WHISTLE BLOW
Montgomery is a funny old place. In parts, beautiful. In parts, inspirational. In parts, horrific. That could also neatly summarise the life and career of Hank Williams, a songwriting master and horrific drunk, and he rose to fame in Montgomery. One of Johnny Cash's biggest influences, a Johnny Cash trip would be incomplete without following some of the trail of Hank Williams.
It was from Montgomery that Hank began his last drive, through Alabama and Georgia and all the way into Tennessee, so James and Bruce decided to follow his route, after visiting the Hank Williams Museum on Commerce Street. Of course, there'd be more Johnny Cash on the way, and what better to place to end up in than Bristol, Tennesse, the last place he was known to be alive, shivering and ill in the back of his car, and the birthplace of country music.
Before leaving Montgomery, Rosa Parks couldn't be ignored, and it is when you see the geography of the city that you start to get why the civil rights movement had to establish its deepest roots in Montgomery.
Rosa Parks worked as a seamstress, and after a long day at work she boarded a bus. But where she boarded it, by her workplace, is at the end of Commerce Street, and the commerce was slavery, with a lot of the buildings in front of her being former slave warehouses. At the top of the hill to her left was the Alabama State House, whose legislators fought hard for the right to regard her as a second class citizen. In front of her was a fountain, but the space was there for it as it was the site for one of the main slave markets in town. On the other side of the fountain was the building from which a telegram was sent that began the Civil War, where the ancestors of those milling around her fought hard to keep her ancestors as slaves. It was no surprise that she refused to move when told the law obliged her to give up her seat for a white man.
The journey didn't last long, and the Rosa Parks Museum stands at the end of the bus ride. I recommend it.
The Hank Williams Museum on Commerce Street
The journey taken by Rosa Parks, beginning below the tall white building
The start of Rosa Parks's bus journey, the sign marking the bus stop
Journey's end for Rosa Parks, and her place in history