Wednesday, July 04, 2007

That's a bunch of Crockett!

On this Fourth of July, as we ponder the sacrifices which made possible the independence of our adoptive land, the mind conjures up iconic images which are associated with the Great American Experiment from those heady days in 1776 and forward to our times.

I recall one of my childhood heroes, and a hero he was to many a Cuban kid, although it was in the good ol' USA that he made his greatest mark. Davy Crockett is who this old kid is talkin' about.

Did you know there was a Cuban Crockett?? Really, I KID you not - pun intended...he came to help the mambises - that's the Cuban rebels against Spain - in their quest for Cuba's independence.

OK, OK - not meaning to be irreverent or flippant about Cuba's independence issues. Yes, am kiddin' you, but you are smart enough to figure it out for yourself. You simply are gazing at the image of a lil' Davy Crockett fan at Isabela de Sagua, Cuba in early 1956. It must be said the outfit is not, strictly speaking, historically accurate.

The wife did comment on the sourpuss look of the wannabe Davy, but memory fails to explain what caused said countenance to be forever frozen in time. Perhaps there was a reluctance to pose for the photographer, but Davy couldn't deny the pleasure to his father; perhaps it was the thought of cousin Fernando pulling the tail off the coonskin cap, although that happened later, I believe. Reminder: You owe me a brand, spankin' new coonskin cap, Fernandito! Davy never forgets...

Speaking of never forgetting, the Cuban Crockett's birthday cake later that year featured a little diorama made up of plastic backwoodsmen, Indian warriors and, of course! The great Davy himself...taking aim with his musket, Old Betsy, from a crouching position, bringing down an Indian and his steed. "Davy Crockett aimed well," commented his observant dad, "and brought down the warrior." And those little plastic Indian warriors and Indian fighters fought in many a heroic encounter in the wilderness of the Cuban Crockett's room. And, of course! Davy and his faithful band always came out of the fray victorious.

Brief pause for a Davy Crockett trivia tidbit - kind of a sad one, really - especially for those fond of sporting coonskin headgear - a backwoods way to help Old Kids cover up bald spots - from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel -

Gives special meaning to sporting a cooonskin cap on the top of your dome, doesn't it? So if perchance you've managed to hold on to your Jack Werber-made headgear through this year - and the many others beforehand - dust it off, wear it with pride and honor the gentleman. Godspeed, Mr. Werber!

OK, Crockett fans - apologize for gettin' you off the trail; not that it was a bad thing to do. Sometimes, we must get off the often-beaten path as we might learn something. Now, let's get back on the trail, treading lightly and quietly in our moccassins.

Therefore, given said lack of accuracy as evidenced in the image of the young Cuban Crockett , perhaps even irreverence, with a bit of "WH" (Warped Humor) thrown in, it is hoped Mr. Fess Parker, who ably played Davy Crockett in the Disney TV series as well as in the wonderful movies the little fan saw with his dad at a Havana theater - don't ask me which one, but it might have been the Rex - will not sue for Defamation of Character.

Forgive the Old Cuban Crockett, but time for another brief moment of sidetracking off the trail:

Speaking of the fondly-remembered Rex, there are no images available, regretfully. Like most cinemas in Havana, it boasted a 35 mm projection screen and catered mostly to the younger set, showing cartoons, adventure movies, westerns, a lot of Disney stuff. Like most movie theaters in Havana, it was shut down a long time ago. Its location, found by delving through, was "REX Pasaje y Cinco, Buenavista 568," Havana.


Back on the trail, you Crockett trailblazers!

Nah, I don't think Mr. Parker will - sue, that is - he's a gentleman, and quite busy running his
  • Fess Parker Winery.

  • Now that's a place a Crockett Fan must find his way to, one way or the other, even if it means trekkin through the mountains of Tennessee...and the Rockies too, for that matter.

    Oh, yep - before I forget: "King of the Wild Frontier," and "Davy Crockett and the River Pirates" - these are the movies, in case you care to track them down and enjoy a Crockett Experience, a la 1950's.

    Returning to one of the Davy Crockett flicks, the Old Kid recalls with pleasure how hero Davy outwitted that scoundrel Mike one scene, he and Fink get into some kind of challenge involving catching a fired musket ball - DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!! - in the mouth, after bouncing it off several targets, firing the gun backwards, using mirrors and other props. Davy cleverly hides a ball in his mouth, fires, the lead missile flies all over the place, and then Davy grins and spits out the ball as Fink's eyeballs pop out. Pretty clever, thought the little kid back then.

    Davy faces off against the dastardly Mike Fink, played by Jeff York, in this scene from "Davy Crockett and the River Pirates," 1956 - from

    Remember the Ballad of Davy Crockett? This is the Tennessee Ernie Ford version; a catchy tune still fondly remembered 50+ years down the trail.

    Born on a mountain in Tennessee
    Greenest state in the land of the free
    Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree
    He killed him a b'ar when he was only three

    Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier

    Fought single-handed thru the Injun war
    'Till the Creeks was whipped and the peace was in store
    And while he was a'handlin' this risky chore
    Made hisself a legend forever more

    Davy, Davy Crockett, the man who don't know fear

    When he lost his love, his grief was gall
    In his heart, he wanted to leave it all
    And lose hisself in the forest tall
    But he answered, instead, his country's call

    Davy, Davy Crockett, the choice of the whole frontier

    He went off to Congress and served a spell
    Fixin' up the government and laws as well
    Took over Washington, so I hear tell
    And patched up a crack in the Liberty Bell

    Davy, Davy Crockett, seein' his duty clear

    When he came home, his politickin' done
    Why, the big western march had just begun
    So he packed his gear and his trusty gun
    And lit out a'grinnin' to follow the sun

    Davy, Davy Crockett, leadin' the pioneer

    His land is the biggest, his land is the best
    From grassy plaines to the mountain crest
    He's ahead of us all and meetin' the test
    And a'follern' his legend right into the west

    Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier
    Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier

    Maybe you'd just as soon listen to the Disney version - it may bring back pleasant memories of an afternoon watching the adventures of Davy Crockett at the Rex or perhaps some other venue fondly remembered...

    The Ballad of Davy Crockett - Walt Disney Version 1955

    Ah, first, Crockett-like, you must be led through the wilderness of modern-day media, if you are to listen to the catchy tune, in any case. When prompted, open the file with Windows Media Player - Quicktime claims not to recognize the ballad as a "movie file" - an anti-Davy bias, perhaps? You may receive an error message from Windows Media player in a pop-up; "it" will ask if you want Media Player to..."play this content;" click the "Yes" button - it should work. Davy could reload and fire "Old Betsy" quicker 'n we can blaze our trail through this procedure! Perhaps you will not have to go through any of this, but if you do, as Mr. Parker, in his Davy Crockett role would have put it, "Be sure you're right, then go ahead"

    Now a substantially older kid evokes and conjures up the past, his daughter patiently taking the place of his father in the composing and capturing of the graphic - and GRAPHIC is the term to use...

    No, not this one! Fooled ya, pardner! This is Mr. Parker portraying Davy, with his faithful "Old Betsy" - sourced from

    THIS one...

    Some things don't change after 51 years! Still historically inaccurate, except for the weapon, a nice rifled-musket my late father in law crafted a few years ago. It is a sweet gun. This thought entered the blogger's warped mind: Suppose it was possible to pay a visit in this very garb, with this very equipment, to a certain stinkin' skunk who these days wears track suits instead of being outfitted in olive drab, said skunk cowering somewhere in a Havana hospital - or possibly veterinary clinic? Then Old Kid Wannabe Davy might show him how to catch a .45 caliber lead bullet in its short range. But then, it might not even be necessary to go that far. It just might get frightened to death upon beholding Old Kid Davy.

    Well, time to close this one, which will be the only posting in July. No doubt, you are greatly relieved at the news. The blogger has his reasons for cutting back a little bit - not that he does a great bit anyway. Time for a little adventure, a little relaxation with some ol' buddies, a couple of the friendships dating to carefree growing-up days in Havana. Inspired by Davy Crockett, and the newish concept of "man-camping," going off to
  • The Mariowether Lewis And Clark Adventure
  • on the - pardon the cliche - mighty Columbia. Given the setting, it is doubtful we'll run into Mike Fink or other river pirates; perhaps we'll run into some fine Fess Parker Wines. That would be a mighty fine thing - and offer a toast for Davy, Lewis and Clark, friends who are brothers, and to everything that matters in life, endures, and transcends time.

    PS - should you decide to venture into the link, be warned, the following is to be found therein: Politically Incorrect and Other Forms of Warped Humor; Unintelligible Inside Jokes; Extremely Bad Puns; Stereotyping; and an overall sense of Monty-Python-ness, with the spirit of Three Stooges thrown in for good measure. You've been warned. On the upside, it may confirm your suspicions the Old Kid is borderline insane, and perhaps even a figment of his own imagination. Then too, the wife and daughter will be gettin' a sorely-needed breather...

    And speaking of breathing, perhaps by the time the Old Kid resumes bloggin', a certain stinkin' skunk will itself have stopped breathing...would it be appropriate to toast with some fine Parker Winery libation then?