Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008

Folk Hero Fiction

The legend of Tennessee Congressman Davy Crockett has always been larger than the man himself. Even before dying at the Battle of Alamo in 1836, Crockett spent the better part of his final years debunking rumors and trying unsuccessfully to lose the boyish nickname "Davy." (He preferred "David"). So it is both ironic and fitting that Col. Crockett's Exploits and Adventures in Texas, Written by Himself — first published shortly after his death and largely responsible for creating the lasting image of Crockett as an eccentric, fun-lovin,' hard-drinkin' frontiersman — turned out to be a fake. Worse still, the man behind the fake book, Philadelphia playwright and novelist Richard Penn Smith, wrote it in less than 24 hours. The moral of the story? Remember the Alamo. Forget the rest.