Eric Mayer

Byzantine Blog

Get Email Updates
Cruel Music
Diana Rowland
Martin Edwards
Electric Grandmother
Jane Finnis
Keith Snyder
My Incredibly Unremarkable Life
Mysterious Musings
Mystery of a Shrinking Violet
The Rap Sheet
reenie's reach
Thoughts from Crow Cottage
This Writing Life
Woodstock's Blog
Email Me

Admin Password

Remember Me

1482079 Curiosities served
Share on Facebook

Davy Crockett
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (12)

I read that Fess Parker has died at 85 but I'm not so sure. I never believed the Mexicans got Davy Crockett at the Alamo. Last I saw he was still fighting on the ramparts. And I'm not ready to believe old age has pulled him down even now.

Fess Parker might have been acting a part but to a lot of kids growing up in the fifties he was Davy Crockett. We all tried to be like him. I wore a plastic buckskin jacket and a coonskin cap made of rabbit fur. At least I'm pretty sure it wasn't raccoon.

I also collected Davy Crockett trading cards. This is all on my website, in an old essay. I guess I dare repeat it here.

In the summers my family moved to a cottage on a lake. There was a tiny store out by the highway that sold soda, ice cream, suntan lotion, all the things one needs by a lake in the summer. There were also packs of trading cards and as a fan of the Disney television series I naturally started collecting Davy Crockett.

Back then you had to actually collect the cards. One pack at a time. You couldn't (or at least I couldn't) buy the sets in a box complete with every card and checklist - with the mystery and romance left out. And they were bubble gum cards. It isn't so much the hard pink slab of gum I remember as the sweet smell and the way it hit your nostrils as you peeled open the wax wrapper to check your treasures - a smell forever linked to the delight of discovery. The gum coated the cards with fine white powder that you had to brush off, like an archaeologist might brush ancient dust from an Egyptian treasure.

There were 80 cards in the set. I knew the story, having seen the television series, but each card, a frozen frame, was a revelation. Each had its own look, its own personality. The words on the back, briefly describing the scene were less interesting, except for the name of the card and the note, on the bottom, naming the next card.

Several times a week I'd take my allowance money up to the corner store where Jim would take out from the glass counter assorted licorice whips, candy dots on paper,and jaw breakers and, finally, always, a pack or two of Davy Crockett cards from the box he kept there. He'd reach under the counter and tap the exposed packs with his finger.

"Which one today?"

I tried to guess which of the packs might contain new discoveries and which only duplicates.

All summer long my collection increased. One by one, from the mountain top in Tennessee to the Alamo, I filled in the gaps. But, as summer drew to a close and the cicadas of August buzzed, like the school bells they foretold, one card remained stubbornly unattainable. Card Number 76. "A Bullet Finds Its Mark."

I raised extra money by catching crayfish and minnows in the stream that ran behind the cottage and selling them to fisherman. As the days of summer, and the local crayfish and minnows, dwindled away like the fighters at the Alamo, I bought and opened pack after pack, finding nothing but disappointment.

"Good luck," Jim would tell me, as I left the store. "Hope you've got #76 in that pack."

I never did. The card, I knew, memorialized the death of the gambler at the Alamo. I dreamt of finding it, but when I awoke, though I remembered my elation, I could never remember what the card looked like.

It was the last week of summer - we'd already made the dreaded trip to town for my school clothes - when I walked to the store for the last time. I slapped my nickel down on the counter and Jim reached toward the box of cards like he always did. But this time his finger tapped one pack.

"Try this one," he said.

I left the store, walked back toward the cottage, across the hot macadam of the highway. I opened the pack. The wax paper came off with unusual ease. Before I lifted the gum, I knew I had it - just by the narrow strip of unfamiliar, and oddly unpowdered, picture visible around the pink slab.

There it was. The gambler, staggering backward, clasping a hand to his chest, as a bullet finds its mark. It's funny that my memory tells me the card was an extreme closeup of the dying gambler whereas the Internet reminds me it was a more panoramic shot. All I recall is the gambler's image. I suppose that's all I really saw.

His unfortunate death completed my set, and just as the summer was complete.

It was long afterwards I learned that Jim had spent hours rifling through every pack in the cartons in the back of his store until he located the card I needed.

I guess my childhood heros are gone now. Fess, and Davy, and Jim from the little shop by the lake.

Read/Post Comments (12)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.