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Tom T. Hall and Billy Shooting Guns in West Texas (1970s)

Billy 1976

Billy in West Texas, 1976 or 1977

Tom T. Hall, (b. 1936), died tonight. I loved listening to an 8-track of his songs that my older brother Billy (b. 1962) sent me for my 12th or 13th birthday. He was stationed in Okinawa at the time and I had never received a more magnificent gift. It came with an 8-track tape player that had a shoulder strap.

Billy decided to join the Marines when he was 16-years-old. Our father was very hard on him. Shortly before my mother died, she told me signing those papers was one of the hardest things she’d ever done. My son Sully turned 16 earlier this month. I really cannot imagine what letting Billy go did to my mom.

In hindsight, Bill leaving home — he actually left for boot camp on or around his 17th birthday — changed the course of all our lives forever. I was just 11 and sobbed when we said goodbye. He was a good brother and wrote me letters on Marine Corps stationery and sent money home for school clothes and food for the dogs.

These days, we talk and text regularly. The other day he told me he was sorry he left me alone to grow up in that mess. I told him that as much as I missed him, I’m glad he wasn’t there getting hurt anymore. Billy has given me many things in this life. Most of all friendship, but also, the music of Tom T. Hall. I love it so much.

Finally, I also love this picture of Bill. It was taken in 1976 or 1977, just outside a town in West Texas called Wink. That day was the first and last time I ever shot a gun. The recoil was unbelievable and nearly knocked me on my butt. I was around 10.

My brother Billy introduced me to the music of Tom T. Hall in 1980.

Billy, West Texas, 1976 or 1977.

I LOVE, by Tom T. Hall. RIP, storyteller.

I love little baby ducks, old pick-up trucks
Slow movin’ trains and rain
I love little country streams, sleep without dreams
Sunday school in May and hay
And I love you too
I love leaves in the wind, pictures of my friends
Birds of the world and squirrels
I love coffee in a cup, little fuzzy pups
Bourbon in a glass and grass
And I love you too
I love honest open smiles, kisses from a child
Tomatoes on the vine and onions
I love winners when they cry, losers when they try
Music when it’s good and life
And I love you too

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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