"The Old Guard"

"My Mentor" Mr. Dean Spratlan, 75, Historian, actually "Called Me" from Union Springs, Alabama. My Ancestral Home of most of my Family Research for years now.

Bullock County Courthouse, Union Springs Alabama

He wanted to let me know he had been getting my letters and phone messages and he was mailing me some "new findings" that I'll find of most interest.

He called to tell me, "I had good reason to worry this time about him", and it was all warranted. He won't fault me this time in worrying and not getting back to me. 

I usually scold him and tell him "Why you took so long" to get back to me? You know you had me worried kind of voice.

 Most of the time our method of communication is through "Snail Mail" or a few scattered calls here and there. No computers. He is so busy he rarely calls. I can count on my hand the times he has. I had been leaving messages and on one occasion I didn't, I just didn't want to bother him. 

It meant a lot to me that he called Today

His reason for all his delaying was,He had open heart surgery!

My heart dropped. I knew something wasn't quite right. Our talks had gone to long and to far apart. He sounded well and strong, and was getting back to his routine and not to worry.

Normally, I can take the absence of
Mr. Spratlan not getting back to me on a timely fashion. That's just his way. He mostly responds to a message I might of left on his answering machine months before or a letter I wrote,with a letter. We juggle back forth with the tit for tat on research. He's who I wait by the mailbox for most of the time. 

He's my Ol'Guy!I like to call him  "The Old Guard". He has been a steady guide in my life in what we call Genealogy and Family History.

Me and Mr. Spratlan

Me and Mr. Spratlan understand each other. We just have this Down Home mutual respect and admiration for one another. It's not like any other relationship I know of. We are of different races and both born in different era's. There's this dance we do in our conversations and music in our dialogue.  

He keeps me in tune with my research. He gently sways me in directions I need to be going without missing a beat. I sometimes don't know how I got there, it's with his teachings I get the steps. He knows how to scold me when I do wrong in only his gentle way. 

He gets tons of calls, letters and visits. He's needed everywhere for Conferences and Classes and even I hate to bother him with all my questions and nuance's about this and what about that? He keeps patience with me and "My Youth" as he would call it. 

I ponder on a lot of things he says. I'm constantly learning from the "Old Guard"

Grateful he takes time to pass on a little fire without giving the torch up. I wish you could hear all our conversations and debates and scoldings: Now,TrueAnn remember what I told you about that time now!(in his southern drawl)......Mr.Spratlan embodies all that a Southern Alabama man is. Sitting side by side to do a little work, standing over him reading some document,just watching him and how he goes about doing research, the smell of his cigar. Him offering me a pop, walking the land and talking. Discussion after Discussion.
Researching with Mr. Spratlan

 His voice is of authority, booming and quite to the point with a heavy southern drawl. It's a constant teachable voice. He doesn't speak without capturing an unforgettable thought that you have to go back and think on it. He constantly makes you wonder and think that you have to come back to him with a answer or another provoking question. He has kept me quite on my toes. 

Either way, I know it's with much gratitude on my part that he has taken time over the years to Mentor and pass this "Genning" on to me. As he would say "Yeah,(this genealogy) It's something, but you just gotta stay at it"!

 I can never go wrong with all the knowledge, teachings and conversations to keep me going on this great Sankofa of keeping my Ancestors alive. I'm mostly self taught, but Mr. Spratlan has laid the ground work for me. He scooped me up and planted some good seeds. I hope in return I make him Proud, as I am of him.

I think I'll write him a hand written "Thank You" note just to remind him of all that he means to me and how I appreciate everything. 

Thanks for the Call Mr.Spratlan!

Roll Tide!

There's something to be said in keeping with the "Old Guard".   


  1. Hope he heals well,,,You are so blessed to have a wonderful mentor!!

    1. Me too. I'm shocked he is so old fashioned and old school that When he does call me, I'm quite surprised. I'm glad of our relationship. Thanks!

  2. This post is so sweet! Get well soon Mr. Spratlan! Thank you True for sharing.

    1. Thanks Andrea, it was a nice surprise that I must mean something to him, for him to still call and want to hang around me. He's got plenty to do besides all my questions and theories abt things. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. What a great story! Your "Old Guard" is quite special; a blessing. That handwritten note you are planning is special too. A thing I find to be soothing to the heart.

  4. Thanks Lisa. I love his letters also,all hand written.

  5. We need to listen closely don't we True. This is a lesson we all must learn at some point so many of my griot's have gone...Get well Mr. Spartlan and long life!