West: Davy Crockett was his first step to fame


For whatever reason, the tune from the old TV show "Davy Crockett" has been running through my brain this week.

"Davy … Davy Crockett…king of the wild frontier…."

At age 4 or 5, Davy and I had a lot in common. After all we were both born on a mountain top in the state of Tennessee, the greenest state in the land of the free.

While Davy was born on a hilltop in Greene County, I was born in Cannon County in the Good Samaritan Hospital. Yep, that's a hilltop for sure.

We also both wore a coonskin cap. I supposed Davy shot, skinned and cured his hat. (I didn't know about props departments back then.) Mine came from parts unknown (probably the 5 and 10 cents store).

Davy had me beat when it came to buckskins. He had the complete outfit including fringe. Closest thing I had was my special T-shirt which was "emblazoned" with various patches including my Dad's Tech Sergeant's patch from World War II.

But guess you could say, I did have the clothing advantage over Davy especially during the summer months before air conditioning. A cotton T-shirt is much, much cooler (temperature-wise) than buckskin. That didn’t keep me from sweating like a river wearing that get-up in the middle of July.

Davy did have the advantage when it came to firearms. He had his famous long-rifle nicknamed "Betsy." I had a "Betsy" too, complete with a shoulder sling. It was a sweet little rifle that would shoot imaginary rounds from sun-up to nap-time without reloading. Heck, I even bagged a big bird with it at the annual turkey shoot (in my vivid imagination).

At the time, Davy Crockett was very real to me. I didn't realize that he was just a role performed on TV by actor Fess Parker.

Besides "being" Davy Crockett was a lot safer than my other TV favorite, "Superman."

Someone (my Mother, probably) made me a bright, red cape that I wore day and night.

With that cape, I absolutely knew I could fly.

The only thing that was holding me back was getting a good enough start. So I started climbing. 

Surely our back porch was high enough. It had to be every bit of five-feet tall. 

So I strapped on my cape and took a leap only to crash and ended up in a heap in the driveway. Oh, the inhumanity of it all.

Hmmph. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

After studying Superman in action on our black and white TV, I determined a higher starting spot was needed. Yep, he jumped out that skyscraper window and it was "up, up and away."

But I was out of luck. The only skyscrapers around were at the end of the world … in Nashville. Even the tallest building in town, the Courthouse, was too far away. So I searched and plotted for a substitute.

One fateful Saturday, I found it. 

The stairway at my grandmother's house near Short Mountain was perfect. Naturally, I was wearing my red cape and was more than ready to slip the “surly” bonds of earth.

Past experience (the porch) had taught me I needed a clear flight path. Jumping from the top step would only result in a disastrous flight and a possible roll down the stairs. Besides the only sound I wanted was the “w-w-w-w-his-s-s-s” of me in flight just like my super hero.

So I devised my plan and waited until the coast was clear.

Each step on the beautiful oak stairway had a decorative lip outside the posts. My path was treacherous, but I held tight to each post as I crept up the outside of the stairs.

I was nearly to the top, when an alert adult spotted me and I was "busted."

That adventure led to the disapperance of my cape. That supernatural piece of red cloth was never to be seen again.

Thank goodness eventually a new hero caught my attention. I was growing older and much more mature (first grade?) and Zorro roared onto the TV set.

Zorro had it all. A cape, a cowboy hat and a mask was his costume and a sword (pronounced s-w-w-w-ward) was his weapon of choice.


Then came that fateful day.

I stepped out on that back porch with my Zorro outfit on. A couple of houses down the street I spied a group of neighborhood "ruffians." So I rode my jet black horse to a pile of dirt behind our house.

Mounting that huge mountain, I waved my sword at those nearby thugs just like Zorro.

They responded with a yell and a charge and I ran from their powerful pursuit. Unfortunately, their horses were faster than my steed.

Those felons caught me right before I reached the safety of the back porch.

It was a slaughter. I lost my hat and my mask and my mighty stick "sw-w-w-ward" was broken.

Gravely injured, I slowly climbed the steps and sought the safety and sympathy of my Mother, who was inside washing dishes.

Grievously, I told her my plight and about the horrors I had suffered and waited for her words of wisdom.

"That's what you get," was her short response.

Thus, Zorro was retired.