|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 “Searching for peace of mind” was originally published in the Oct. 17, 1996 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
It’s surprising the number of people that I come in contact with that tell me that they are bored and have trouble finding something to occupy their time. They watch television from the early morning until the late hours of the evening. During this time they witness several fairy stories in a world of make believe and never really witness anything that is enjoyable or that might bring a few moments of peace of mind.
I don’t watch television very much because I don’t put much faith in our today’s fairy world. I don’t think that some freak can suggest to me that he has some kind of product that will make you stay younger, smell better, live longer, or be happy living on an island all by yourself. And, I don’t believe that I can acquire that macho look by using a certain brand of snuff or smoke a certain brand of cigarettes.
Of course no one has asked me the secret to being happy, and probably won’t ever. But, I do believe that I can tell them a thing or two about happiness, adventure and several other things that can and will keep one occupied. Especially at this time of year when the glorious fall colors dot the countryside, I could map out a trip across the hills to the north that will cause one to throw rocks at their televisions. I could challenge them to investigate certain stories and legends around this area that would keep them awake and wild-eyed for many hours. These investigations would create more interest and excitement than 40 murders or stories of hidden loves among the rich and famous actors on the television screen.
I could tell them the location of one early Indian village site that would provide enough interest and excitement to last a person a whole month. I could suggest going to certain hilltop, not too far away, where after viewing an evening sunset would be remembered for years to come. Or, I could give directions to a small creek where one could stretch out in its cool waters on a hot summer day and never move again until the frost fell.
I hear these excuses every day of being old, tired, afraid, retired or just plain lazy. After all these years, I’m yet unable to understand people. I could devote all my time roaming the countryside, seeking and discovering the many things that await there. I feel sorry for those individuals that don’t have the initiative to go forth and search for the unusual and strange happenings that are to be found around the countryside and places within right here in our county.
Once the barriers mentioned above have been overcome, the cost of supplying one’s self for an excursion is almost next to nothing. A good pair of walking shoes, a cheap coffee pot, a box of matches and some coffee in a small plastic bag, and you are ready for almost anything. If you really want to live up to your highest expectations, acquire a cheap sleeping bag and a large piece of sheet plastic. Search out the high hills and find one where the winds of the evening whispers through the pine trees. Prepare to spend the night there of a layer of pine needles. Wrap the plastic around you and your sleeping bag to keep out the heavy dew. Lay there in the solitude of the coming darkness and listen to the lullaby of the sighing winds through the tall pine trees. Don’t be alarmed if a curious armadillo tries to get in the sleeping bag with you. He won’t hurt you; he’s just looking for an easy evening meal.
Listen to the sounds of the night for awhile before going to sleep. Try and identify each of the sounds before the sandman makes his rounds and you fall asleep. If, at any time, you feel that you are not the luckiest person in the world, remind yourself where you are and the feeling of peace that has come over you. Also, remind yourself that you are not alone, because just a touch away, there is one that controls all things; the creator of heaven and earth is just a breath’s distance.
And, before sleep comes upon you, promise yourself that you will learn to identify all species of plants that grow in the forests of our southland. Learn to identify those that can be eaten. Be able to identify those that can cure various illnesses; know which ones that are harmful, and those that can be beneficial to man. The knowledge of being able to cope with nature brings on great satisfaction. One becomes more aggressive and more sure of one’s self. The desire to explore and seek out the mysteries of our surroundings draws you ever onward. (A word of warning. You might become a wandering vagabond as I have.)
As darkness covers the land, and your eyelids grow heavy, remember that you are part of this universe. You have a right to be here; but you must also respect the rights of everything else. They too are part of the great plan. Happiness and contentment is here for all that search for it. Don’t be found wanting.
Remember the words of the Indian prophet, Black Elk: “October is the moon of the changing seasons. This is the time to look at the glorious colors across the land and see the handiwork of the Great Spirit. Raise your arms to the heavens and let him know that the beauty that He has created is forever appreciated.”
Some words of an old Indian prayer might say it better:
Make me know Thy presence,
As I feel the bark of the birch tree,
And smell the blooms of the wildflowers.
And let me linger under the tall pine trees,
While listening to the lullaby of the winds.
(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.)