|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 “You might be stupid for getting into these situations” was originally published in the March 2, 1995 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
The night of the 25th of February appeared to be the perfect night for slipping out and visiting some of the places where I thought strange things might occur.
Since my dear wife was away for a couple of days, this would be a good time to ease out and search for the unusual. Since I am not an avid boob-tube watcher, around 9 p.m. I slipped my motorcycle out of the drive, trying carefully not to disturb my neighbors, and headed toward the northwest part of the county.
Leaving Highway 41, I followed a narrow dirt road for several hundred yards before turning up a dim, little-used trail that would carry me almost to my destination. Stopping my motorcycle, I broke a couple of bushes and placed them across the bike to keep down any glare from the shiny metal. Then, with the aid of a small flashlight, I proceeded on foot around the hill to where I was going to sit for a while and listen to the night sounds around me.
Night was chilly
The night air was quite chilly down there near the bluff where I had chosen to wait. I had been here several times during the daylight hours and knew the layout of the area quite well. Just to the left of where I was sitting was an ancient campsite of a small band of Indians who roamed this area many, many years ago. During my earlier visits to this site, I had found several artifacts in and around where I was now waiting.
A brisk, chilly wind from the northeast caused the treetops to sway back and forth across the top of the high bluff. Looking at my watch, the time was approaching 10:30 p.m. As was my luck, just over to my right in a tall pine tree, a screech owl screamed out in a blood-chilling call. I had heard the call of these owls many, many times, but it seems that you never get used to these hair-raising sounds.
Again, the thought flashed through my mind as it had on many of these excursions that you aren’t too bright to leave a warm, comfortable house to venture out and sit and wait in the darkness all alone like I was doing, not knowing what to expect.
For a few brief moments, my friend, the screech owl, ceased its blood-chilling screams. While listening to the noises around me, I realized that the winds had ceased also across the top of the bluff. This was when I realized that I was hearing the murmur of several voices directly in front of me.
Low, murmuring chants
I knew that no one was in the area but myself. The only access to this area, without traveling by foot for roughly three miles through dense undergrowth, was the way that I had come. So, with every nerve in my body on edge and the hair on the back of my neck standing up, I tried to make out the voices that I was hearing. But the low, murmuring chants that I was hearing seemed to be from another time; a time not known to my civilization, or anything I had ever heard about.
There, in the darkness below the tall bluff I was unable to see anything without the use of my small flashlight. I quickly decided that it was not in my best interest to flash a light around the campsite and try to see what was taking place. I knew that if I moved, the poncho that I had around my shoulders would surely make a noise; right now, I didn’t want this to happen.
Almost too afraid to breathe, I sat and listened. Everything there at the base of the tall bluff had grown deathly quiet. Not a sound could be heard but the murmur of the strange dialect directly in front of me. Then, the sound of what appeared to be several footsteps sounded over to my left. The dead leaves and dry foliage crackled as though two or three were approaching the low voices that continued to murmur in the darkness in front of me.
Sounds of footsteps
The sounds of the footsteps ceased as the voices grew louder. The chants grew in volume as if all had now joined in unison. After what I guessed to be several seconds, the chants decreased in volume as though some distance was coming between the voices and my hiding place. Then, two or three seconds more, total quietness settled across the area. The only sound that I could hear was the loud pounding of my heart, as though someone was slapping my chest with an open hand. Again the thought flashed through my mind: this is really dumb being here; I’m getting too old for this.
As I sat there in the darkness, trying to regain my senses, I saw what appeared to be a dim light or torch slowly making its way through the dense underbrush toward the river. Within a few moments, the light or torch faded from sight.
Mustering up enough courage, I moved my now numb legs so that the circulation again flowed through my veins. The winds in the treetops had again began to gather momentum.
Directly from the area where I had left my transportation, a coyote howled. The sounds of the night were slowly increasing all around me. Then, high in the pine tree above me, as though nothing had happened, my friend, the screech owl, gave its blood-chilling call. I never thought that a frightening sound such as this would ever be so welcome as now.
Ancient village site
Looking at my watch, I realized that I had misjudged the passage of time. It was approaching 2 a.m. Getting to my feet, I rolled the poncho up as quietly as possible. What had I witnessed here tonight at the base of this high bluff? Were the spirits from another time yet present here in this ancient village site? I had seen nothing, but the voices that floated on the night air were that of human beings, maybe from another time, but they were human.
Trying not to disturb my surroundings, I turned on my small flashlight and started up the hill where I had left my transportation. Once out on the blacktop, I quickly made my way toward home and the warm bed that awaited.
Approaching my driveway, I switched off my engine and headlight and coasted around my house and under the carport.
From the security of the warm bed covers, I gave some thought that I might return to the ancient village site at some later time. Maybe the next time, if the moon was right, I just might see that which I had heard at the base of the cliff, there in the darkness.
Dumb folks do strange things; only time will tell.
(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, graduated from Sweet Water High School, served in the Korean War, moved to Monroe County in 1961 and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. For years, Singleton’s column “Somewhere in Time” appeared in The Monroe Journal, and he wrote a lengthy series of articles about Monroe County that appeared in Alabama Life magazine. 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.)