by Larry Patrick
The fall of the Alamo occurred on this day, March 6 in 1836 when the Mexican army overpowered a small group of Americans, including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. The cry of “Remember the Alamo” is still heard today.
As I was growing up, Walt Disney made a whole new generation of kids aware of Davy Crockett and the Alamo with his Wonderful World of Disney programs. They featured the exploits of Davy Crockett, played by Fess Parker and his sidekick, Georgie Russell, played by Buddy Ebsen, who later went on to fame as Jed Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies.
Many boys were crazy about Davy Crockett. I had the coonskin cap, I knew all the verses to the Davy Crockett song and I had the Davy Crockett lunch pail, books and other novelties. The Davy Crockett craze was really “huge” in the 1950s.
I recall getting a guitar for Christmas and being in a school talent show at about age 6 or 7 and singing all the verses of the Ballad of Davy Crockett. It began, “Born on the mountain top in Tennessee…” I wasn’t quite as “shy” as I am today and I belted out all 10-12 verses for all to hear. I’d apologize to the people today but most of them have probably passed on by now and those that haven’t are probably deaf, by choice, because of my singing and guitar playing or lack of it, back then.
I recall Davy Crockett being known for his many sayings. One was, “Be sure you’re right… then go ahead.” I took that saying to heart many times in growing up. I had no doubt that Davy Crockett believed in the cause that led him to his ill-fated demise at the Alamo. I just wonder if he might have muttered to himself, “Oops, I might have been right but I didn’t want to be dead right.” I have not been to the Alamo yet but I have friends who live near there and they have invited me down. I probably won’t take a guitar to entertain them with the “Ballad of Davy Crockett” because I am hoping to stay there for more than one evening in their home.
The Alamo pre-dates the Civil War by nearly 25 years, was way ahead of the “wild west” with the likes of Buffalo Bill, Jesse James and Wild Bill Hickok. The Alamo was there before Texas was a state and the “gold rush” to California in 1849 was still over a decade away. Yet Santa Anna, the leader of the Mexican Army and American frontiersmen like Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie became famous for the battle to control the land that would either become U.S. territory or Mexican territory. Ironically, many Mexican people surround the Alamo today working hard at jobs in many of the skyscrapers that surround it. But none of the tall buildings in San Antonio or much of America or Mexico will ever reach the “stature” of the Alamo.
I often wonder how history might have changed had I been living back then and had stood on the top of the wall at the Alamo, belting out the “Ballad of Davy Crockett” to the Mexican Army. Would the combination of not knowing how to sing or play the guitar have them retreating and giving up the battle for the Texas territory? Could I have been a “hero” at the Alamo? Questions, left for us to ponder, 172 years ago today. Remember the Alamo!