He was King of the Wild Frontier


All right, it’s story time, folks.

When I was a kid, I would spend the night at Grandma’s house. It was usually on a Friday, and we’d make a day of it: Mom would take me, and possibly my little brother (Andrew, sometimes called Rudy, which is another story), out to Grandma’s, and they’d sit and talk while Andrew and I played for a while, then mom would leave, maybe taking Rudy, maybe not.

After that, we’d pile into Gramma’s station wagon-style car, and head into town to get groceries, and then go to the library. This, I think, was my introduction to libraries. And before I ever even thought of books, we’d get movies. We’d take the movies back to the house, Grandma would make dinner, and we’d watch one.

That’s when I met Davy Crockett, played by a man named Fess Parker. It aired on Walt Disney’s Sunday program in 1954, and it told the life story of Davy Crockett, mixing mostly fact with a little bit of the extraordinary, like having Crockett defeat a bear with nothing but a knife. Crockett’s can-do attitude and signature coonskin cap had an effect on me, and I fell in love with history. I haven’t really done anything with it, but that love is there, and I try to feed it with knowledge as often as I can.

Fess Parker died last week, on March 18. He was a tall, lanky fellow, but I believed it when he won fights with Injun braves and ran for Congress, and never doubted that his ring-tailed hat was anything less than the best headgear a man could have.

Here’s to you, Fess. Thanks for wearing the buckskins and giving me something to enjoy with my Grandma.

Fess Elisha Parker, Jr., August 16, 1924 – March 18, 2010

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