|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 “Fox hunting – the end of an era” was originally published in the Nov. 19, 1998 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
There was a time, not long ago, that this time of year was the beginning of fox hunting season. The full moons and cool winds of early autumn gave warning to the sly, old fox that the hunters’ moon now hung in the heavens.
But the old fox hunters, as some of us once knew them, have slowly slipped from the scene. The nights of chases across open pastures and freshly harvested fields, the fireside gatherings have almost disappeared. No more do the night winds carry the laughter of fox hunters as they gather for a hunt and the stories of great fox hounds with names like Danny Boy, Old Bottom and Dixie Darling. Fox hunters were truly a special breed who are fast vanishing from the scene.
No more does the smell of wonderful hot coffee, brewed over an open fire ride the night winds of autumn. Having a glorious full moon overhead while feeling the warmth of an open campfire has almost been forgotten. What is the reason for the end of such a wonderful era? Why have the beauty of the chase and the music of foxhounds trailing a crafty old fox across the meadows lost their call? Is it a lack of love for the outdoors? Has the boob tube (television) captured all our interests? Have we become so weak and lazy that we no longer have the strength to go forth on a chilly autumn evening and be part of Creation?
Whatever the reason, a time in our history has almost disappeared that will never be recaptured. The beauty and romance of the fox hunters’ moon will soon be no more. The campfire tales have disappeared, never to return. Those few of us that remember have lost a beautiful portion of our lives.
What will we tell our children? Will they pass through life without the pleasure of hearing a pack of fox hounds as they give chase? How will they know the satisfaction of hearing the tall tales of fox hunters as they sat around glowing fires, listening to the hounds. Deep in their hearts, each hoped the hounds never catch up with the sly old fox. Are we depriving them of knowing the love of an open campfire under a full harvest moon? Truly, we should never let this happen. These wonderful times of our past have almost disappeared.
As Southerners, we are at the time in history, when we desperately need some of the old forms of entertainment. I believe we must have a knowledge of these if we are to identify with our past. Laugh if you must, but the time has come when we have separated ourselves almost completely from our upbringing. We have become so absorbed in our lives of fantasy, in a world of make believe, we have forgotten what has made us great.
I know that many of you smile and wonder just how, perhaps foolish to some, this form of entertainment could be of value in our way of life. Today our world is a finer place to live because of the generations before us. I do not wish to sound like the voice of doom, but I think the time is at hand when we must share the knowledge and know-how of our past, so our youth of today may live sane and useful lives into tomorrow.
This does not mean that one has to be a dyed-in-the-wool fox hunter to survive the coming years. But, the peace and contentment of such a pastime will be a great plus in the minds of our youth when facing the coming tomorrows. It seems that we try very hard to separate ourselves from our history. But, we should pass our experiences, both good and bad to our youth of today. I have a saying that a person, a family, a community or a nation, does not know where they are going, unless they know where they have been. This, I believe with all my heart.
Many problems were discussed around those evening campfires and things looked much better with the new day. I know that honor, respect and decency were common words of the old fox hunters. These men put great faith in the words of others. Their word was law; that’s all they had. This practice could be of great use in today’s society.
Today, as we push deeper and deeper into the age of the computer, we are less inclined to give much honor and respect to the word of our neighbor. We turn to the machine for much of our thinking and advice. We cannot see the rising of a glorious full moon on our computers or televisions. We cannot sit in our dens and living rooms and feel the wonders of our surroundings and know that somewhere up there a loving and caring God is watching.
We must be a part of our creation. We must smell the campfires and taste the crisp evening air. As we feel the chill of evening and listen to the lullaby of autumn winds, we will know that our God is forever present, and all is well within our souls. As the fox hounds race in the distance, you will know that peace of mind is at hand.
(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.)