Saturday, December 3, 2016

George Singleton provides a tongue-in-cheek look at the effects of old age

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 “Birthdays come faster after a person passes 30” was originally published in the Dec. 12, 1991 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

Sat., Dec. 14, will be my birthday. I don’t understand what is happening, but I believe that I just had a birthday just a month or so ago. Or perhaps my birthday present was 10 months late.

I am not sure, but they say that your memory gets worse with age. This is the reason why I’m not going to tell my readers how old I am. This might seem a little strange, but a person surely shouldn’t begin to lose their memory at age 39. But if losing your memory is a sure sign of old age, then I was an old man at the age of 10.

The experts of old age also say that another way to tell that you are getting old is when you realize that the kids on the block where you live have grown up.

Well, I know for sure that kids just grow up faster now than they did a few years back. I see kids every day that have beards and mustaches that can’t be a day over eight or 10 (or maybe these are the children of the ones I’m thinking about; I can’t seem to remember.)

When I decided to write this article about my birthday, I had given some thought about just sitting down one whole day and trying to remember some of the highlights of the past years. But then, I couldn’t remember what I was trying to remember. Then I forgot which day I was going to do whatever I was going to do. You do understand what I’m trying to say, don’t you?

Another sign noted by these so-called experts on old age is to forget the names of people you know. I hate to admit it, but I forgot my oldest sister’s name one time. Her given name is, oh my gosh, I forgot again. Sister, that’s it, Sister. Anyway, I know who I’m talking about. Let me think; is she my oldest or youngest sister? I can’t recall just how many sisters I have. One’s memory can sure play strange tricks on a person sometimes.

If you, in the near future, begin to think that you are getting older and you might have trouble remembering names and various other things, always try to be in the presence of a much younger person.

Then, when someone who you think you know but can’t remember the name come into a restaurant or someplace, this is what you do. You say to your young friend, “You remember this guy, don’t you?” and, he will say, “Yes, I remember him.” Then, you say, “I thought you had forgotten; what’s his name?” You must always be very tactful. Never carry someone with you whose memory is as poor as yours. When neither of you can remember, this can be very embarrassing.

I, for one, think that there should be more tattoo parlors around the area. Then, as one grows older, one might have the names of their grandchildren, their children and even their wife tattooed on their arms.

Then, under the pretense of rubbing your arm or rolling up your sleeve, you won’t be embarrassed when someone asks the names of your grandchildren or family. You might want to have your wife’s or husband’s name tattooed somewhere else besides your arm, depending if you need the extra space. This is just a thought that might be helpful in saving space; nothing more.

Referring again to the experts, getting old is just another part of living, they say. Old age works in many strange ways. There are those who lose their hair from the tops of their heads. This same hair drops down a little and grows in abundance on the cheeks, the chin, the upper lip. This can sometimes be a blessing in disguise.

As this time in life, you only have to hear that which you want to hear. Those who are married to long-winded wives or husbands are most fortunate. They can tune out the excess chatter and blame it on growing old and that datburn hearing problem.

Then, there are those, as they chalk up another birthday or two, who become of great concern to the people who know them, or think they know them. Some of these concerned citizens hold their breaths as one of these mentioned ride down the street on his favorite motorcycle.

“There goes an accident looking for a place to happen. He’s too old to be riding that thing; what if something went wrong? He wouldn’t know what to do.”

Or it might be something like this: “He shouldn’t go off by himself like he does; a booga could get him when he’s off in the woods at night. He’s getting too old to run; I bet his wife stays worried almost half to death with his crazy goings on. He’s sure to catch his death of cold, running around the country on that contraption. Some people never learn, regardless how old they get.”

Then there is the problem of getting all that junk through the U.S. mail for senior citizens. All kinds of clubs to join; some wanting to know if you have prepared yourself for things ahead. And then you get that devilish feeling and mail all this junk back to the sender with postage collect and a short note saying that there must be some mistake, that you are only 15 years old.

So, as my 39th birthday approaches (or is it my 40th or 41st? My dadgum memory is getting awful), I will celebrate as I have for quite a few years. I will try to get on my favorite motorcycle and carry my favorite lunch of sardines and crackers, along with a moon pie and a soft drink for dessert, to my favorite spot, Crazy Sally Mountain, or is it Crazy Nancy Mountain? I can’t remember which.

It can’t be my age that causes me to forget.

(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, lived for a time among Apache Indians, moved to Monroe County in June 1964 (some sources say 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. Some of his earlier columns also appeared under the heading of “Monroe County History: Did You Know?” 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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