Monday, March 22, 2010

Davy Crockett

Fess Parker was born in Texas on August 16, 1924 and passed on to the Great Beyond on March 18, 2010 at his home in Santa Ynez, California, due to natural causes.

He was a movie and TV actor, most famous for playing Davy Crockett for Walt Disney TV productions in the 1950s. After his acting career, he devoted his time to his 1,500 acre winery near Santa Barbara, California.

I am old enough to remember some of the 1950s. Many of the young boys wore coonskin caps, just like Fess Parker when playing Davy Crockett on TV. I never wore one -- the notion of placing the exterior covering of a dead animal on my head never appealed to me.

Davy Crockett was born in east Tennessee on August 17, 1786 and passed on to the Great Beyond on March 6, 1836 at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, due to unnatural causes.

He was the fifth of nine children. His grandparents were murdered by Creek and Cherokee Indians before he was born, and his father fought in the American Revolutionary War in the Battle of Kings Mountain.

At age 8, Crockett became a hunter. But his father could not afford to waste bullets, so he sent Davy out each time with just one round.

At age 12, Crockett was contracted by his father to help herd cattle to Virginia, some 300 miles away. When forcibly detained after the end of his contract by the cattle drover, Crockett walked seven miles at night in a snowstorm and came upon some travelers from Tennessee who helped him get started back home.

The following year, Crockett got into a fight with a bully on the first day of school. Rather than face the wrath of his father, he ran away from home and spent three years roaming through Tennessee as a hunter and trapper. At age 15, he returned home to a welcome family.

In 1806, the day before his 20th birthday, he married Polly Finley.

In 1811-1814, Crockett fought in the Creek War throughout the South as a member of the Tennessee Volunteer Militia under General Andrew Jackson.

In 1815, Polly Crockett died after giving birth. Davy soon married Elizabeth Patton, a widow with three children.

In 1821, at age 35, Crockett became a member of the Tennessee State Legislator.

In 1825, he was defeated in an attempt to become a Representative in the U.S. Congress.

In 1827, he succeeded in becoming a Representative in the U.S. Congress.

In 1830, he was defeated in an attempt to be re-elected as a Representative in the U.S. Congress.

In 1832, he succeeded in being re-elected as a Representative in the U.S. Congress.

In 1834, he was defeated in an attempt to be re-elected as a Representative in the U.S. Congress. He had opposed many of President Andrew Jackson’s policies, particularly the Indian Removal Act, which led to his defeat.

In 1835, Crockett set out for Texas with aspirations of political leadership in the soon-to-be independent territory. “You may all go to hell -- I will go to Texas” were his parting words. “Let your tongue speak what your heart thinks.” he often said.

On March 6, 1836, Davy Crockett died in a Blaze of Glory at the Alamo. His motto was “be always sure you are right -- then go ahead.” There were about 100 brave men inside the Alamo and 1,500 Mexican soldiers on the other side of the wall who executed a shock and awe assault.

Davy Crockett and the others were bound by the primary principle of freedom -- it’s better to die on your feet than to serve on your knees. They all perished with their boots on.

As a member of Congress, Crockett criticized his Congressional colleagues for attempting to spend taxpayer funds to help a widow of a U.S. Navy man who had lived beyond his naval service. To Crockett, the U.S. Treasury was not a public fund for charitable contributions. “We have the right as individuals to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity, but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money,” he proclaimed.

Unlike the current administration in 2010, Davy Crockett understood the principle that the worst thing you can do for someone is something they can do for themselves. “I would rather be politically dead than hypocritically immortalized.” Crockett once declared.

On his way to Congress one day, he announced to a small crowd, “I’m that same David Crockett, fresh from the backwoods, half-horse, half-gator, a little touched with the snapping turtle, can wade the Mississippi, leap the Ohio, ride upon a streak of lightning, and slip without a scratch down a honey locust tree.”

Davy Crockett was a brazen man of honor and integrity.

He was King of the Wild Frontier.

In the 1970s, Fess Parker considered running for the U.S. Senate against Democratic Senator John Tunney. In 1986, he explored the idea of running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Alan Cranston. But unlike Davy Crockett, he backed out and played it safe.

Fess Parker was a decent man and an actor who became a real estate developer.

Rest in peace.

Quote for the Day -- “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow -- what a ride!’” Hunter S. Thompson

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where coonskins belong on coons. His blogs appear on several websites, including

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