So When Did Hank Pass Away?

County Music Legend Hank Williams

I found the ultimate trivia question in an article in Smithsonian Magazine, which my excellent brother Shady sends me when he’s done with them. Actually, the ultimate trivia question is June Cleaver’s maiden name. But this one is a close second.

Here’s the question: What year did Hank Williams die?

That might not sound like such an amazing question, but it’s the answer that makes it unique: No one will ever know.

They poured him into a limousine in Tennessee somewhere at 11 pm on New Year’s Eve and when the limousine arrived in West Virginia somewhere the next morning, Hank was no more.

He had taken one of the so-called “cures” for alcoholism that were common back then, usually morphine. But that didn’t work and he did a bit of drinking. Bad idea.

Wonder what they put on his tombstone? Whatever it is, it has to be a guess on the part of the stonecutter.

It reminds me of a column by the one and only Jimmy Breslin about police officers compiling homicide statistics. A guy got stabbed around 11 on New Year’s Eve and died around 2 am New Year’s Day.

One cop says the murder should be counted in the year in which it was committed. He says it’s like a basketball player who puts up a shot before the buzzer and then it goes in after.

If you make a bar bet about this and somebody needs verification email me and I’ll dig up the article. And if you know someone who subscribes to Smithsonian, ask them to send their old issues your way, it’s a great source of historical information. And the price is right.