THE PERIOD FROM 1950 TO ABOUT1965
Chapter 2. King of the wild frontier.
The 50's had its share of cult heroes. James Dean was 'The rebel without a cause'. Crooners Johnnie Ray and Frank Sinatra were driving my older sister wild. But for us, there was no one that had yet made such a great impression in our lives as Fez Parker in Walt Disney's 'Davy Crockett'. The craze lasted a mere seven months but it stayed with us for much, much longer.
Armour Star tinned food products were offering a Davy Crockett coon skin hat free with just a dozen labels from their products. I was mortified when my mother broke it to me that we never bought that brand because it was too expensive. I began asking for tinned mince or frankfurters and things that I had never considered before in the hope that my mother would come home from shopping with an Armour Star tin. All this was to no avail. Well I remember wading through platefuls of ghastly tinned butter beans meal after meal because I had asked for them and my mother had bought a cheaper brand.
Eventually I got one label from a tin of corned beef that my mother had bought from the corner shop on special offer. I carefully removed the precious label that I thought would be my starting point with only eleven more labels to go. But on reading the small print on the back of the label my dreams were dashed as I found that the offer had now ended. I quietly stuck the label in my scrap book and drew a picture of Davy Crockett underneath.
The boy across the street from me actually did make it. His father bought home more money than my Dad who had contracted tuberculosis and was now unable to work. David whose mother seemed to indulge him completely, dutifully went out and bought all the requisite number of Armour Star products and a Davy Crockett coon skin hat duly arrived. It gave me some satisfaction to see that it was a very poorly made thing with a brown plastic middle and imitation 'nylon' fur sides. Even the tail was a strip of the same nylon fabric.
In our street all the games involved Davy Crockett. No one could be persuaded to be Hoppy or Tom Mix let alone a baddie! At the Sunday school Christmas fancy dress party there were no less than seven Davy Crocketts! I went as an Indian in full war paint.
One Saturday on the market in Hayes there was a stall selling off cuts of leather and fur. To my great delight I saw a pile of complete Dingo pelts from Australia! After begging my mother for an advance of two week's pocket money, I carefully chose the best skin and proudly took it away in a brown paper carrier bag.
Once in my bedroom I spent a long time admiring the golden skin and the bushy tail. It took me a week of evenings after school carefully folding and sewing the fur into a magnificent 'coonskin' hat with flowing tail behind and empty eye sockets in front. It was then lined with some of my Dad's old khaki flannel army shirt material from the scrap rag bag. This creation was the envy of my friends and I wore it everywhere and all the time except to school or at mealtimes. I sometimes secretly wore it in bed!
- Tony Sheppard