|The 49ers beat the Bengals, 20-16, in the '89 Super Bowl.|
(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 “Super Bowls come, go; nature’s beauty remains” was originally published in the Jan. 26, 1989 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
Ask anybody what he would be doing Sun., Jan. 22, and he would tell you he was spending the day preparing to watch the Super Bowl. Well, maybe this is fine, but let me share with my readers and experience that would put the Super Bowl to shame.
Picture yourself along the edge of the mighty Alabama River around 1 p.m., just above where the ferry crosses to that tiny part of Monroe County that sits off by itself on the west bank.
You have walked up into the woods along a hiking trail, among the tall oaks and slender pines that reach up to the heavens, as though trying to bring down a piece of beautiful blue sky that spreads from horizon to horizon.
The temperature is 70 degrees, and the air is just a little crisp, just right for breathing. You look around, expecting to see something, but there is no one anywhere. You breath a sigh of relief. Then you begin to look around for a nice, dry place where you can lie down and rest awhile. After all, you have walked almost a quarter of a mile from where you left your transportation.
Now, you have selected the right spot; the place is made to order. There is a sizable rock for a pillow. You get everything like you want it to be. Then you lie back and adjust your rock. You don’t want to get too comfortable, because you have to be home by first dark, or someone might come looking for you.
Lying there with your head on your rock pillow, you can see through the tops of the tall pines. The wind blows gently out of the north and rolls down the steep slope to your back, whispering a lullaby as it softly rustles the pine needles on its way southward.
You lie there and think of the many who haven’t taken the time ever to let Mother Nature hold them in her arms and rock them to sleep. You begin to feel sorry for those who haven’t witnessed the comfort of the blanket of fresh pine needles that beckons your sleep time.
You lie still and listen again to the sighing winds through the tops of the all pines. You fight sleep hard, not wanting to miss one bit of the peace and gentleness that surround you. You wonder if anyone else has been here, lying on the ground, absorbed in the wonders of nature.
The tall pines sway in the gentle winds, you settle back, and the lullaby continues. Sleep has won out; you drift off into contentment and rest. You remember to try and look up. The world is beautiful. All is at peace.
Before you drop off into that deep sleep, you remember to feel sorry for all those hurrying masses, pushing and shoving, trying to get into the stadium to see the Super Bowl. Poor souls, if they only knew what they were missing. You feel sorry for them once more. Then sleep wipes away all the unpleasant thoughts.
A couple or so hours later, you roll to the side and open one eye. You feel angry at yourself for waking up and spoiling the dream time that had been so pleasant. You close that one eye and try to return to that time and place you had just left in your dream. But the time has passed; you feel ugly and mad at yourself.
You turn again unto your back and open that one eye again. The shadows have begun to creep down on the steep slope behind you. You open the other eye and notice that daylight has almost passed. You find yourself wishing that the day could have been two or three hours longer. You think again of those poor, wretched souls, screaming and yelling at the modern-day gladiators as they struggle back and forth, trying to carry a funny-shaped ball across the goal line some distance away.
Funny how some people will go to the ends of the earth to be entertained when peace and contentment are so close at hand. As you look for a place to hide the rock that you used for a pillow (who knows? You might want to use it again) you try to realize how much the needy would have benefited from all that money spent this evening somewhere in Florida.
The shadows have crept down from the top of the hills, and the tall pines look as though Mother Nature has placed a great blanket of gray, as someone might place a cover over a special flower to protect it from the cold. As you make your way out of the woods, you turn and look again into the peace and comfort that abounds there in the growing darkness.
Sometimes you wonder about yourself. Maybe you’re dumb, but you wouldn’t have traded places with anyone down there in Miami, even if they had agreed to pay you some difference.
So near to the peace of Heaven
That the hawk might nest with the wren;
For there, in the cool of the evening,
God walks with the best of men,
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The songs of the birds for mirth –
One is closer to God’s heart in the pine trees
Than anywhere else on earth.
(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 to Vincent William Singleton and Frances Cornelia Faile Singleton, during a late-night thunderstorm, on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County, graduated from Sweet Water High School in 1946, served as a U.S. Marine paratrooper in the Korean War, worked as a riverboat deckhand, lived for a time among Apache Indians, moved to Monroe County on June 28, 1964 and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from June 28, 1964 to Dec. 14, 1987. He was promoted from the enlisted ranks to warrant officer in May 1972. For years, Singleton’s columns, titled “Monroe County history – Did you know?” and “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. It’s believed that his first column appeared in the March 25, 1971 edition of The Monroe Journal. 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.)