I learned late yesterday of the death of Fess Parker, but to me he will always be Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier. I didn't feel a tear coming to my eye or a lump in my throat, but I recognized the loss of someone really important in my development as a boy and the boy that became a man.
I grew up in a small suburban town just to the west of Denver. My dad was even a town councilman in the Town of Mountain View, Colorado. Big deal. The town was six blocks long by three blocks wide. My elementary school was a two story pre-war red brick building. (My kindergarten teacher was Miss Godley. And Officer Goody, a Denver cop, came to my school to teach us about obeying the law.) There were some little mom and pop stores on Sheridan Blvd that was the dividing line between the City and County of Denver and the Town of Mountain View. I attended Berkley Methodist Church at the corner of 43 and Sheridan from the earliest of my childhood memories until we moved to Lakewood, Colorado where I would attend Junior and Senior High. My Cub Scout Den Mothers and my Boy Scoutmaster lived in the same little Town of Mountain View and my little universe was populated with other little boys just like me who grew up there in the 1950s. My little universe was replicated all across America and we became known as boomers.
Back in the mid 1950s there were three television networks plus an independent station that ran old scratchy movies with stars like Edward G.Robinson, James Cagney, George Raft and the like. The independent station ran old time horror movies as well. I remember my big brother scarring the hell out of me and his girlfriend late one night. We had just finished watching The Mummy (the real one with Boris Karloff wrapped in bandages. The mummy slowly drug his body with one arm out-stretched but also quickly enough to catch the morons too afraid to run from the creature.) Anyway, my brother went outside to warm up his car to take his date home. It was snowing that night. He came back inside with his coat and head covered in new fallen snow. He walked in the front door with his arm was out-stretched and he drug his body across to the sofa. We were paralyzed in fear and could not move, just like the morons in the movie. We both screamed for our lives. I was eight and she was maybe 16 or 17.
There was one girl at my school whose family did not own a TV. I could not believe the cruelty of her father, who, she said, did not believe in television. That was like not having indoor plumbing.
The rest of us watched TV and became the first generation to be raised by Madison Avenue. We learned to know what we wanted because someone on TV told us what we wanted. It worked very well.
I remember the very first time I saw Davy Crockett. I don't remember the night, but I remember that within the period of a couple of months just about every boy I went to school with had a coonskin hat and knew how to croon the Ballad of Davy Crockett.
I have a specific recollection of going to a particular cub scout den meeting wearing my coonskin hat. My best friend was Bruce Small and his mom was our den mother. I'll never forget him or her (she had the same name as my sister, Shirley) or his little brother Ronnie, who had the same first name as my brother. Aside from the names-the-same thing, just about every body at that one den meeting was wearing an official Davy Crockett coonskin hat.
If you were a kid in the fifties you knew right from wrong, the good guys from the bad guys, the Americans from the Commies. Things were simple then. The good guys always won and the bad guys got what was coming to them. Davy Crockett was the best of the good guys. They don't make 'em like Davy Crockett anymore. Too bad. And thank you Fess Parker for making all the little boys in America have a genuine hero.
I found these images on the Internet. They are not mine.
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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell
- Gary Thomas
- Key West, Florida, United States
- I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.