September 1, 2022

Just Saying…

Davy Crocket, John Wayne, and me

By Q.C. Jones

Solid American, red-blooded, heroes. I can’t imagine life without them. Throughout my life, I have been blessed to have dozens of them – all lined up and ready to serve me.  Fact is, if you could peer into my brain, stare at my psyche, shake away the dust, rearrange the cobwebs, and see my vision of self, an endless loop of QC Jones dashing from adventure to adventure plays like a blurry movie on a dirty screen.

The movie depicts a walking, talking cross of Davy Crocket, John Wayne, and Mickey Mantle. Bigger than life, tough as nails, meaner than a charging bear, and ready to stroll barefoot across hot ashes to do what’s right.  A later day superhero fighting for truth, justice, a giant slice of mom’s apple pie, and the undying admiration of the blonde-haired girl next door. All for an incredibly meager paycheck.

And in the colloquial of the little hometown of my youth, “If I’m lying, I’m dying.”

Your pal QC Jones is the last of a dying breed. The truth is our whole falling into the Chingachgook category. We as a generation, dear reader, are the Last of the Mohicans. Don’t believe me? Allow me to illustrate.

Once a younger, and almost disturbingly cynical friend said, “You and your whole baby-boomer generation were subjected to the greatest propaganda program every contrived. Everything you read at school, saw on television, heard on the radio did nothing but beat a drum for America.”

Somehow, my young friend missed the point.  Entertainment was different back in our formative years.  Think about the omni-present TV.  In 1950, fewer than 9 percent of American homes had a TV, in 1954 the number passed the halfway mark, and by 1960, the number approached 90 percent. The Television Thing changed American life. TV brought us together and made us strong, upright, and brave.

In the days of my youth, Sunday nights were special.  Each evening the entire family gathered around the TV a few minutes before 6:00 PM to watch Walt Disney Presents, and later “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.” It wasn’t just my family, it was every family in every neighborhood, town, city, and state. Every kid in America sat glued to the TV watching the adventures of Fess Parker as Davy Crocket.

The very next morning on the school bus, all the kids were super hyped on Davy Crocket.  Coonskin caps showed up in the school coat room and the theme song, “Davy, Davy Crocket, King of the wild frontier” echoed through the halls.  Throughout our school we literally engaged in fisticuffs over who would play the part of Davy and who would be relegated to river pirate, trusty native guide, or some other bit part in the daily saga of American life playing out across the playground.

Imagine the 8-year-old QC Jones standing in front of the mirror searching for ways to transform my young self into the Davy/Fess image.  Tall, handsome, and a college athlete from the University of Texas, Fess Parker personified America.  Davy Crocket, Daniel Boone, and dad in Old Yeller – it’s hard to imagine a hero with finer credentials.  Fess exceeded all expectations.

Pre-Disney Parker played the part of the airplane pilot who discovered the giant ants in one of my all-time favorite 1950’s Drive Inn classic movies – Them!  Someday, I will tell you all about Them, but until then a quick synopsis.  Nuclear tests in Nevada create gigantic ants.  Ants eat a few residents.  Equipped with tanks and bazookas, the army can’t stop them.  Teenager and Professor figure out a plan.  The world is returned to safety.  On a side note, Them! is required viewing.

The action wasn’t limited to Disney on Sunday night.  Every Saturday Night from 1961 onward, NBC broadcast NBC’s Saturday Night at the Movies.  It sounds strange today, but the premise was NBC would show relatively recently released movies on TV, for free, and (if you had the right TV) in color.  It was a big deal for my parents every week.  But when the movie was something like The Alamo and featured John Wayne, word went out on the coconut telegraph.  We did our chores, made sure to help mom with the dishes and secured a spot front and center for some John Wayne action.

Davy Crocket, John Wayne and me all come together in The Alamo.  Remember the Alamo?  We could say the contest for best Davy Crocket comes up a tie.  Fess Parker is my first picture of Davy, but John Wayne does justice to a coonskin cap in the 1960 epic.  I saw that one of Saturday Night at the Movies around age seven.  Other boys wanted to be policemen, firemen, and astronauts.  I wanted to be the “King of the Wild Frontier.”  And, taking the whole thing further, I wanted to be the King of the Wild Frontier with Mickey Mantle’s ability to hit a 565-foot home run.  I picked up Mickey from watching the super slugger with my Grandpa.

Reflecting on all this, Davy Crockett, John Wayne, and even Mickey Mantle, were tall powerful men.  Guys with humble roots and a strong sense of right and wrong.   I carry a bit of each of them wherever I go.   I hope you have a hero or two.  Just saying…  QC Jones.

Filed Under: Humor

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