Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Crockett Man...


"Born in the mountain state of Idaho
A place with lots of dirt that grows potatoes
Raised in Boise, the City of Trees,
He carried a stuff b'ar until he was thirty-three

Tim Id, Tim Id Crockett, drives a Nissan Frontier!"
--Ballad of Tim Id
I grew up thinking Davy Crockett was also Daniel Boone. This was likely because the same actor who played Davy Crockett in the Disney television movies, Fess Parker, also played Daniel Boone in the 1960s television series. Television causes a great deal of confusion like that.

The Davy Crockett television movies came out in about 1954 and 1955 and started a coonskin cap craze that apparently hung on awhile (the ironic note to the whole coonskin cap craze was that Davy Crockett actually wore a foxskin cap). I think the one my two-year old self was wearing above actually belonged to my brother Dan. I don't think it was a real coonskin cap. This would have caused me a great deal of consernation because later, when I was about 10 or so, I saw another Disney movie called Rascal about a boy and his pet raccoon and really wanted a pet raccoon. The boy in the movie was played by Billy Mummy who also played Will Robinson in the television series Lost in Space. I told you television causes a great deal of confusion.

But I digress.

Regardless, by the time I was really old enough to be aware of such things, the Davy Crockett cap was long gone. But we did have a Davy Crockett cookie jar that I still have.

The real Davy Crockett, unlike his Hollywood counterpart, did not go on to become Daniel Boone (who actually lived a bit before Davy Crockett). Davy Crockett was a Tennessee good ol' boy who ended up with a brief career in Congress but failed to get reelected because he opposed President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act (which was the law that allowed the United States government to negotiate with Native Americans and trade them prime farm land for swamps and desert view property).

Davy Crockett became a living myth. Apparently he was a talker and could spin quite the tale. But apparently he could shoot off more than his mouth and was a crack shot with a rifle. For some reason, in 1835 he decided to take part in the Texas revolution from Mexico (I've heard it was kind of a publicity stunt to bolster his waning political career). He died at the Alamo in March 1836 (wearing a foxskin cap).

But Davy Crockett is one of the first media heroes that sprung up around the new frontier that was creeping farther and farther west. In addition to the Disney movies, he was immortalized in umpteen movies about the Alamo and was played by John Wayne and Billy Bob Thornton (which shows you how our standards for what a hero should look like have changed dramatically over the years). God knows who they'll find to play him next.

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