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An homage to the King of the Wild Frontier ...

I don’t typically interact with a lot of teenagers – usually limiting my exchanges to providing odd payment amounts at fast food restaurants in a kind of sadistic desire to watch their heads explode as they try to do math calculations in their heads – but I did run into one the other day and the subject of Davy Crockett came up.

I can’t remember why Crockett’s name came up, but I do recall that I was absolutely stunned the teen in question had no recollection at all who he was. Mentioning the Alamo didn’t help: there was no recollection of that, either, and when I tried to describe it he looked at me as though I was trying to pull a fast one on him.


This is not some screed about the quality of public education, but merely an acknowledgment of the usefulness of companies like Topps and Upper Deck mixing historical figures into some of the card offerings the way they have in recent years. Apparently, it’s much needed.

And it’s also a fairly transparent way of recounting the details of the apex of my amateur musical career – the modifier is wasted, since there has been no professional version – which took place nearly 55 years ago.

The youngster with the coonskin cap and the bow and arrow, as legend would have it in the O’Connell Family archives, allegedly sang the Ballad of Davy Crockett at a Madison, Wis., nightclub called “Smokey’s,” not far from the University of Wisconsin campus.

While the number of verses changes in the annual retelling, my 85-year-old mother has always insisted that the number was in double digits, and always intended to suggest that all possible verses were duly memorized and included in the rendition.

In researching for this blog entry, I was stunned to find out that there are actually 21 verses, which casts a bit of doubt over my mother’s power of recollection. For a guy who can’t remember what he had for lunch yesterday, that seems like an awful lot of memorization, though the abuses that I was to submit my limited number of brain cells to certainly hadn’t been a factor at age 5.

But mostly I just can’t believe that patrons in a restaurant/night club could sit there and listen to that much for that long. Alcohol can dull the senses, for sure, but that seems a bit extreme.

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