January 29, 2014

"Killed in a bar when he was only three!"


May 1955. "Actor Fess Parker on a 22 city promotional tour as Davy Crockett. Includes public appearances at department stores." From photos by Maurice Terrell for the Look magazine assignment "Meet Davy Crockett." Shorpy Historical Photo Archive

And, yes, I had the hat. Did you?


Posted by gerardvanderleun at January 29, 2014 9:38 PM
Bookmark and Share



"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I was born in August of 55 and when I was a kid Fess Parker was Daniel Boone.

Posted by: SteveP at January 28, 2014 9:57 PM

I had the hat AND belt, thanks to Sears, Roebuck, which shipped the precious items all the way to Port Lyautey, French Morocco.

Posted by: Lorne at January 28, 2014 10:12 PM

Had the hat too. Worn proudly, along with Hopalong pistols, until someone found mites, cooties or the ilk in a batch of real fur hats. Off the market they went, and off the head too, very suddenly. Moms were like that.

Posted by: Mark N at January 29, 2014 12:48 AM


Yeah, but you had to get old enough to recognize the Dan'l Boone routine. When you were born, OTOH, Fess Parker was Davy Crockett, and his ballad went on for somewhere around 213 verses.

Anybody remember Your Hit Parade on TV? They had to come up with a new skit for the Ballad of Davy Crockett for about a zillion weeks when it was the number one record in the country.

Posted by: Rob De Witt at January 29, 2014 12:49 AM

You dern tootin' I had the coonskin cap. Also had a Paladin holster set and business cards, and the bounty hunter's(Wanted Dead or Alive) (Steve McQueen)hawgleg and holster.

Posted by: JHughes at January 29, 2014 3:34 AM

I had a hat, too. But it was not until I was married, that my bride had a taxidermist make for me a hat with the head on it, that I had one like Mr. Parker is wearing in the photograph. Better than the one on the cut-out poster.

And I had a Bat Masterson cane, too.

Posted by: Punditarian at January 29, 2014 3:53 AM

Didn't have the hat, but I did have the Annie Oakley outfit complete with fringed skirt and silver pistols. (and blonde ponytails)
Ah childhood memories - thanks.

Posted by: Grace_ia at January 29, 2014 4:07 AM

Had the hat and the long rifle. God I loved that show and knew the whole song and sang it every night before bed. I wanted that Bounty Hunter mare's leg and the Rifleman's cool gun but never got them. Still though, the absolutely best time to grow up in America. Thank you 1950's.

Posted by: tripletap at January 29, 2014 5:25 AM

Only rich kids had the hat. I was reduced to cultivating the hat-head look.

Posted by: Estoy Listo at January 29, 2014 6:17 AM

But the bear was bigger so he ran like a .......

Posted by: ghostsniper at January 29, 2014 6:21 AM

Hate to rain on this parade, but we raised six kids through this era and not one had or ever mentioned a Davy Crockett anything that I can recall. But then, we didn't have and didn't want a TV in the house. We agreed with Newton Minow.

Posted by: BillH at January 29, 2014 7:21 AM

Davey Crockett was still popular even after Fess was Dan'l and the shows were still on TV. Some of my friends and I had the whole costume and sometimes I was Davey and sometimes I was Dan'l. They both wore the coonskin cap so it was up to our imaginations who we were.

Posted by: SteveP at January 29, 2014 8:05 AM

I had the rifle.

Posted by: TmjUtah at January 29, 2014 8:48 AM

You bet I had it. (And we weren't rich.)

Posted by: bfwebster at January 29, 2014 8:58 AM

I always wanted the rifle and never could afford one. When I got older I joined the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Assn. NMLRA and learned to make my own. I still have a couple of them hanging around the house.

Posted by: stuart at January 29, 2014 9:09 AM

No TV => No hat.

Also missed out out 77 Sunset strip, I never did learn how to comb my hair.

Posted by: chuck at January 29, 2014 9:48 AM

Him; not in! But, you knew that.

Sure we watched him, and bought the stuff. My kids love the Disney movies @ DC that we get on DVD.

Posted by: Casey Klahn at January 29, 2014 10:04 AM

I never had the hat but I did have the lead role of Becky opposite my fifth-grade crush who played the leading role of Dan'l. I still have the script with mark-ups some 46 years later.

Did a recent cruise through of early "Wonderful World of Disney" shows. Compared to the current Disney Channel today it is no mystery why our children are, by and large, worldly but unwise.

Posted by: AbigailAdams at January 29, 2014 11:54 AM

David Crockett
Member of Congress 1827-31, 1832-35

One day in the House of Representatives, a bill was taken up appropriatingmoney for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in it's support. The Speaker was just about to put the question when Crockett arose:

"Mr. Speaker-- I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the suffering of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. 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 so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him. Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblence of authority to appropriate it as a charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week's pay to the object, and if every memeber of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks."

He took his seat. Nobody replied. The bill was put upon its passage, and, instead of passing unanimously, as was generally supposed, and as, no doubt it would, but for that speech, it received but few votes, and, of course, was lost.

Later, when asked by a friend why he had opposed the appropriation, Crockett gave this explanation:

"Several years ago I was one evening standing on the steps of the Capitol with some other members of Congress, when our attention was attracted by a great light over in Georgetown. It was evidently a large fire. We jumped into a hack and drove over as fast as we could. In spite of all that could be done, many houses were burned and many families made homeless, and besides, some of them had lost all but the clothes they had on. The weather was very cold, and when I saw so many women and children suffering, I felt that something ought to be done for them. The next morning a bill was introduced appropriating $20,000 for their relief. We put aside all other business and rushed it through as soon as it could be done.

"The next summer, when it began to be time to think about the election, I concluded I would take a scout around among the boys of my district. I had no opposition there, but, as the election was some time off, I did not know what might turn up. When riding one day in a part of my district in which I was more of stranger than any other, I saw a man in a field plowing and coming toward the road. I gauged my gait so that we should meet as he came to the fence. As he came up, I spoke to the man. He replied politely, but, as I thought, rather coldly.

"I began: "Well, friend, I am one of those unfortunate beings called candidates, and----'

"Yes, I know you you are Colonel Crockett. I have seen you once before, and voted for you the last time you were elected. I suppose you are out electioneering now, but you had better not waste your time or mine. I shall not vote for you again.'

"This was a sockdolager....I begged him to tell me what was the matter.

"Well, Colonel, it is hardly worth-while to waste time or words upon it. I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in honesty and firmness to be guided by it. In either case you are not the man to represent me. But I beg your pardon for expressing it in that way. I did not intend to avail myself of the privilege of the constituent to speak plainly to a candidate for the purpose of insulting or wounding you. I intended by it only to say that your understanding of the Constitution is very different from mine; and I will say to you what, but for rudeness, I should not have said, that I believe you to be honest.... But an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is.'

"'I admit the truth of all you say, but there must be some mistake about it, For I do not remember that I gave any vote last winter upon any constitutional question.'

"'No, Colonel, there's no mistake. Though I live here in the back woods and seldom go from home, I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings in Congress. My papers say last winter you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some suffers by fire in Georgetown. Is that true?'

"'Well, my friend, I may as well own up. You have got me there. But certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should give the insignificant sum of $20,000 to relieve it's suffering women and children, particularly with a full and overflowing Treasury, and I am sure, if you had been there, you would have done just as I did.'

"'It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be intrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to anything and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favortism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose.If twice as many houses had been burned in this county as in Georgetown, neither you nor any other member of Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief.

There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the suffers by contributing each one week's pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life.. The congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditable; and the people about Washington, no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give. The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution.

"'So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch it's power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you...'

"I tell you I felt streaked. I saw if I should have oppostion, and this man should go talking, he would set others to talking, and in that district I was a gone fawn-skin. I could not answer him, for the fact is, I was so fully convinced that he was right, I did not want to. But I must satisfy him, and I said to him:

"Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head, when you said I had not sense enough to understand the Constitution. I intended to be guided by it, and thought I had studied it fully, I have heard many speeches in congress about the powers of the Congress, but what you have said here at your plow has got more hard, sound sense in it than all the fine speeches I ever heard. If I had ever taken the view of it that you have, I would have put my head into the fire before I would have given that vote; and if you will forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another unconstitutional law I wish I may be shot.'

"He laughingly replied: "Yes Colonel, you have sworn to that once before, but I will trust you again upon one condition. You say that you are convinced that your vote was wrong. Your acknowledgment of it will do more good than beating you for it. If, as you go around the distict, you will tell people about this vote, and that you are satisfied it was wrong, I will not only vote for you, but will do what I can to keep down opposition, and perhaps, I may exert some little influence in that way.'

"'If I don't,' said I. "I wish I may be shot; and to convince you that I am in earnest in what I say I will come back this way in a week or ten days, and if you will get up a gathering of the people, I will make a speech to them. Get up a barbeque, and I will pay for it.'

"'No Colonel, we are not rich people in this section, but we have plenty of provisions to contribute for a barbeque, and some to spare for those who have none.. The push of crops will be over in a few days, and we can then afford a day for a barbeque. This is Thursday; I will see to getting up on Saturday week. Come to my house on Friday, and we will go together, and I promise you a very respectable crowd to see and hear you.'

"'Well, I will be here. But one thing more before I say good-by. I must know your name.'

"'My name is Bunce.'

"'Not Horatio Bunce?'


"'Well, Mr. Bunce, I never saw you before though you say you have seen me, but I know you very well. I am glad I have met you, and very proud that I may hope to have you for my friend.'

"It was one of the luckiest hits of my life that I met him. He mingled but little with the public, but was widely known for a heart brimful and running over with kindness and benevolence, which showed themselves not only in words but in acts. He was the oracle of the whole country around him, and his fame had extended far beyond the circle of his immediate acquaintance. Though I had never met him before, I had heard much of him, and but for this meeting it is very likely I should have had opposition, and had been beaten. One thing is very certain, no man could now stand up in that district under such a vote.

"At the appointed time I was at his house, having told our conversation to every crowd I had met, and to every man I stayed all night with, and I found that it gave the people an interest and a confidence in me stronger than I had ever seen manifested before.

"Though I was considerably fatigued when I reached his house, and, under ordinary circumstances, should have gone early to bed, I kept up until midnight, talking about the principles and affairs of government and got more real, true knowledge of them than I had got all my life before.

"I have known and seen much of him since, for I respect him --- no, that is not the word -- I reverence and love him more than any living man, and I go to see him two or three times a year; and I will tell you sir, if everyone who professes to be a Christian, lived and acted and enjoyed it as he does, the religion of Christ would take the world by storm.

"But to return to my story. The next morning we went to the barbecue, and, to my surprise, found about a thousand men there. I met a good many whom I had not known before, and they and my friend introduced me around until I had got pretty well acquainted---at least, they all knew me.

"In due time notice was given that I would speak to them. They gathered up around a stand that had been erected. I opened my speech by saying: "Fellow-citizens --- I present myself before you today feeling like a new man. My eyes have lately been opened to truths which ignorance or prejudice, or both, had heretofore hidden from my view. I feel that I can today offer you the ability to render you more valuable service than I have ever been able to render before. I am here today more for the purpose of acknowledging my error than to seek your votes. That I should make this acknowledgement is due to myself as well as to you. Whether you will vote for me is a matter for your consideration only.'

"I went on to tell them about the fire and my vote for the appropriation and then told them why I was satisfied it was wrong. I closed by saying:

"And now, fellow-citizens, it remains only for me to tell you that the most of the speech you have listened to with so much interest was simply a repetition of the arguments by which your neighbor, Mr. Bunce, convinced me of my error.

"'It is the best speech I ever made in my life, but he is entitled to the credit for it. And now I hope he is satisfied with his convert and that he will get up here and tell you so.'

"He came upon the stand and said:

"'Fellow-citizens --- It affords me great pleasure to comply with the request of Colonel Crockett. I have always considered him a thoroughly honest man, and I am satisfied that he will faithfully perform all that he has promised you today.'

"He went down, and there went up from that crowd such a shout for Davy Crockett as his name never called forth before.

"I am not much given to tears, but I was taken with a choking then and felt some big drops rolling down my cheeks. And I tell you now that the rememberance of those few words spoken by such a man, and the honest, hearty shout they produced, is worth more to me than all the reputation I have ever made, or shall ever make, as a member of Congress.

"Now, sir," conluded Crockett, "you know why I made that speech yesterday.

"There is one thing now to which I will call your attention. You remember that I proposed to give a week's pay. There are in that House many verywealthy men-- men who think nothing of spending a week's pay, or a dozen of them, for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Some of those same men made beautiful speeches upon the great debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased -- a debt which could not be paid by money --- and the insignificant and worthlessness of money, particularly so insignificant a sum as $10,000, when weighed against the honor of the nation. Yet not one of them reponded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, intergrity, and justice to obtain it."

Posted by: ghostsniper at January 29, 2014 12:21 PM


I was going to give my 2¢: saying that I had a Davy Crockett hat, too. But then I read ghostsniper's comment above.

I had read that account several times before, but not recently. It is a gem. [I gave a copy to my History prof years ago, and as a result he wrote a paper on Bunce.]

If every member of Congress was forced to read Crockett's account to his constituents on the day he/she was elected – every 2 years – the country would be better off.

It certainly wouldn't be worse off...


[IIRC, the lyrics were 'Killed him a bar [bear] when he was only three'.]

Posted by: Smokey at January 29, 2014 2:26 PM

The later Daniel Boone version, as well as the plastic powder horn

Posted by: Cletus Socrates at January 29, 2014 4:39 PM

Good story about Colonel David Crockett. It may be a myth:

That said, the principle is still a good one, and if more people had read the story, not as many people would vote for progressives.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at January 29, 2014 8:31 PM

Perhaps, but the mythic nature of Crockett is the most important aspect of his life and legend.

Posted by: vanderleun at January 29, 2014 10:01 PM

I have a picture of me in the hat, Davy Crockett shirt and pants, and toy rifle in front of the Davy Crockett tent. And we were a blue collar family so I must have gotten all of that from Santa.

Posted by: Teri Pittman at February 1, 2014 9:46 AM