Saturday, April 18, 2015

'At Bell's Landing reunion yesterday is remembered'

George Buster Singleton
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “At Bell’s Landing reunion yesterday is remembered,” was originally published in the April 29, 1982 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

The bell of the old Presbyterian Church tolled gently as it signaled the start of the Bell’s Landing reunion this spring. The first Saturday in April is a day looked forward to by the many people who are descendants and friends of the early settlers of the once thriving community on the river in north Monroe County.

The old church looked its best, with everything clean and shining. Fresh flowers graced the interior, and the old pews and stained-glass windows added an air of age and dignity. The old piano sat on the corner of the stage as though waiting for someone to sit down and strike the keys into a beautiful hymn such as “Amazing Grace” or “In the Sweet By and By.”

The church yard had been raked clean of leaves from the giant oaks that stand as silent sentinels around the old church. An air of laughter and anticipation settled over the people, with hugs and handshakes the order of the day. Everyone was glad to see everyone else. Kinfolks were greeted and old friendships renewed. Certain instances or occasions were remembered, and conversations always ended with a laugh or smile, or if one looked closely, a faint tear that might have gone unnoticed.

After the business of furthering the best interests of the preservation society and the maintenance of the old church building, a short historical program was given. Dates were mentioned, family names, old buildings and early businesses talked about. Certain locations were pinpointed by those who knew them. This was a Saturday to be remembered.

Then finally that wonderful dinner on the grounds. A box here, a basket there – before you knew it, there was more food than one could imagine. Everyone talking, everyone eating, each in their own way, enjoying this beautiful day with the people they knew and loved.

As I watched these gracious people enjoying themselves, I could understand why some had traveled great distances to be at the homecoming. And I knew, as one or two slipped away to stroll quietly among the neatly kept graves in the adjacent cemetery, that they had come to visit loved ones long departed, too. As each returned to the groups, a little quieter, a little more thoughtful, a lot wiser, the words of a little-known writer came to mind.

“Linger awhile and walk with me into the shadowy mist that was yesterday. Stroll across the faded pages of history and from our hardships, learn the ways to a better and fuller life.

“Pass me not, for I am the spirit of your ancestors. In your veins flow my blood and that of my fathers..

“Linger awhile, if only for a moment, and through your thoughts, I will know that I am remembered.”

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

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