Saturday, May 2, 2015

Singleton recounts the night he spent on high bluff at Claiborne, Alabama

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 “Bridge work recalls night spent on river bluff,” was originally published in the Jan. 26, 1984 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

No one in his right mind would not agree that the new bridge being constructed across the mighty Alabama River at Claiborne is in the best interests of all. But as I look at the changes taking place, I feel a certain amount of regret and sadness when I recall certain memories that dwell within the favorite times that are so dear to me.

I had on several occasions visited the sharp, rocky point that protruded up, just to the north of the old bridge, overlooking the river and all points to the west. The road that led down to the boat landing gave this point the appearance of being an island.

I decided one autumn evening that I would go down and spend the night atop this high point overlooking the river. I hastily packed my sleeping bag and a few canned goods, so that I would have something to eat during the night and the following morning for breakfast. I got astride my trail bike and headed west toward Claiborne.

Ground was too steep

I reached my destination about an hour before sunset. As I looked around for a place to put my sleeping bag, I realized that the ground was too steep. I knew that I could easily fall off a cliff of 100 feet or so. I could imagine falling down this steep incline while trying to free myself from my sleeping bag during the dark hours of the night.

Determined to go through with my plans to spend the night, I built a kind of harness out of nylon rope that allowed me to tie myself and my sleeping bag to a stout pine tree that grew on the steep slope. I knew this would keep me secure, and I wouldn’t have to worry about being awakened by a sudden stop at the bottom of the ravine at the river’s edge.

As I nestled in for the night, I felt myself go back in time as the sighing winds played a soft melody in the treetops and the rolling currents of the mighty river echoed the sounds up and down the steep cliffs.

The heavy blanket of stars that covered the heavens gave me the feeling that I was the only person alive. The deep sleep that came over me gave way from time to time to the sounds of the night or of a falling star streaking across the heavens on its final journey into oblivion. Each happening or event seemed as though the grand display were especially for me.

How many had been there?

As I lay there and watched the night sky, I wondered how many over the past thousand or so years had sat there and watched the heavens and listened to the sounds of the mighty river.

As the early dawn pushed the lazy mist from the high bluff and my home for the night, I was angry with myself that the night was over, and that I had waited this long before coming here for this spectacle of the Creation.

I was glad that I had come and been part of the final days of the cliff overlooking the mighty river. I knew that soon this beautiful, primitive place would disappear forever. But I knew, too, that time waits for no man, and nothing is forever.

(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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