Svedarsky Letter to the Editor: Remembering Tom T. Hall and his words

Dan Svedarsky

Country music fans lost one of the all-time great singer/songwriter and storytellers on August 20, 2021. Tom T. had over 21 singles in the country Top 10, mostly in the late 60’s and 70’s. Noteworthy were, “Harper Valley P.T.A.,” “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died,” and the sentimental hit, “I Love,”which also reached the pop Top 20 in 1973’

I was at a family reunion in Missouri last August and bought my first ever bottle of watermelon wine to celebrate his life and legacy. As I poured shot glasses of the wine for a toast, my younger relatives asked, “Who?” This gave me a chance to say a bit about the lines from one of my all-time favorites – “Old dogs, children, and watermelon wine.” Like many of Hall’s songs, watermelon wine is loaded with catchy lines but,

"Old dogs care about you even when you make mistakes

God bless little children while they're still too young to hate," rings so true. Any dog lover makes a mistake now and then (who doesn’t?) but when we look down at our pooch with regret in our heart, we get this look of complete forgiveness. And things are a bit better.

As we near the closing of 2021, and reflect on the collective hate in the world, shouldn’t it give us cause to consider, “How does hate get started anyway?” Hate, like many other emotions and reactions, is a learned response but when and how? Clearly, children learn from what they see and hear others do in family settings, the media, and in society at large. A couple of years back, I snapped a photo of my Costa Rican granddaughter, Sophie, taking a catnap on the couch. I thought later, “Does a 4-year old hate anyone?” I choose to think not, but I’m hopelessly biased.

As we gather with friends and family and observe the larger world over the holidays, let us rediscover a more peaceful and forgiving time and place in our lives to gain strength from it and strive to pass it on.

Tom T. Hall quote