The Daily Heller: Remembering Davy Crockett

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As a youngin', like most American boys, I reckon I was partial to Davy Crockett, 1786 – 1836, (though I often confused him with Daniel Boone, 1734 – 1820) because of the TV show 'bout him, starring Fess Parker as the King of the Wild Frontier (ole Fess also played Boone on TV, adding to my addled confusion and in both wore coonskin hats). Crockett was quite a character: Raised in the woods where he done knew every tree and killed himself a baar (bear) too, when he was only three (yeah, right!). He was sure 'nuff something of an American mythic hero in buckskin and coonskin. He wrassled wild animals, fought as a colonel along with General Andrew Jackson as the future dictatorial president waged an ethnic cleansing war against Tecumseh's Creek Indians; was elected to the U.S. Congress on the National Republican Party ticket from the State of Tennessee for seven years; considered acceptin' a run for president of these here United States against Jackson, opposing many policies, including Jackson's racist Indian Removal Act; and then, after loosing a congressional race and his taste for politics, he trekked on down to Texas to, as legend has it, fight for its freedom from Mexico and die at the Alamo. If I remember rightly, in addition to Fess Parker, John Wayne once played Crockett in The Alamo film.

In 1955, Citadel Books published a hardcover edition of Davy Crockett's Own Story (originally published posthumously in 1836) in which the eponymous author stated, "In the following pages I have endeavored to give the reader a plain, honest, homespun account of state in life, and some few of the difficulties which have attended me along this journey, down to this time. I am perfectly aware, that I have related many small, and as I fear, uninteresting circumstances; but if so, my apology is, that it was rendered necessary by a desire to link the different periods of my life together, as they have passed, from my childhood onward, and thereby to enable the reader to select such parts of it as he may relish most, if, indeed, there is anything in it which may suit his palate."

You may add to Crockett's list of accomplishments a fine acquaintance with using the English language and, for this 1955 edition, the help of two young illlustraor/designers from a newfangled studio called Pushpin, featuring a woodcut cover and endpapers by Seymour Chwast and black-and-white pen illustration spots by Milton Glaser. This book could very well have been one of the duo's first collaborations. It was certainly a boon (not to be confused with Daniel) for the quality of this long out of print book.

Woodcuts by Seymour Chwast

Pen and ink drawings by Milton Glaser