He was the king of the wild frontier and kids from all across America loved him. Forget about hula hoops, pet rocks, and furbies -- coonskin caps were it!
Fess Parker was Davy Crockett to millions of kids in the 50s. We followed his adventures (as imagined by the Disney studio) with a loyalty that knew no bounds. We sang his song. We named our toy rifles Old Betsy. We traveled with him as he fought indians, and when he went to Washington, and then to the Alamo, where some of us sat in disbelief as we saw Davy, all alone, swinging his rifle against the Mexican hordes with the flag of Texas superimposed on the background, then fadeout.
Davy returned for two more adventures, fighting the river pirates and meeting Mike Fink, but the real action was with the original three episodes. Davy was our hero and he stood head and shoulders above such johnniecomelatelies as Elfago Baca, Texas John Slaughter, and Andy Burnett.
And we collected the trading cards. Topps put out two sets. The first was printed on white or gray stock, the second was on green stock. Each card had a picture from the show and was backed with a paragraph of text; when you had the whole set, you had the complete story. I don't know of anyone who actually traded the cards; some were so hard to get, you would never trade them, others were so numerous no one wanted to trade for them. We ended up flipping for the extra cards. The one whose card traveled farthest won. Soon your pile of extra cards would be large enough to swallow Cleveland, or you would have lost all your extra cards and have to wait until you bought enough packs to replenish your stock.
The cards were sold in packs for a penny or a nickel. Each pack had a stick of gum, a dust-coated pink concoction that was usually hard as a rock and would make your cheeks jut out like chipmunk when you got the whole thing in your mouth -- chewing gum, not bubble gum.
For those sad souls too young to remember the 50s, this link will take you to images of the first set:
And here's the second set:
For those who like to sing along, here's THE BALLAD OF DAVY CROCKETT:
Just in case you forgot, here's part one of the series:
And part two:
And part three:
And part five:
And part six:
And that's it. Before you go, just remember one thing: Be sure you're right, then go ahead.