“To feel useful in this old world”

January 1960 I stand with my mother where Davy Crockett died.
January 1960 I stand with my mother where Davy Crockett fell.

Yesterday’s blog post, actually ghostwritten by Kristin Carlisle, stirred the recollections of more than one reader regarding the portrayal by Fess Parker of Davy Crockett in the 1960’s Walt Disney television series that bore the name of the famous illegal immigrant to Texas.

I too was a Fess Parker fan and was saddened as a child watching the television series to know Davy Crockett was doomed to die at the Alamo.

As a seven-year-old I carried this great sense of sadness around with me and into the Majestic Theatre in downtown Dallas in 1962 to see the epic John Wayne movie The Alamo, without doubt, the greatest motion picture ever made.

The movie lifted my sense of sadness and replaced it with a sense of stubborn determination that I derived from a speech John Wayne gave to his female love interest concerning his decision not to flee before the armies of Santa Anna but to stay behind with the Texans at the Alamo to fight and die.

I put the speech the memory and have recited it upon thousands of occasions (including a number of stone cold sober ones). I present it here as an insight into the motivation of a dedicated Texas Houser.

John Wayne speech to Flaca from the movie The Alamo.

I’m going to tell you something Flaca and I want you to listen tight. It may sound like I’m talking about me but I’m not, I’m talking about you. As a matter of fact I’m talking about all people everywhere.

When I come down here to Texas I was looking for something. I didn’t know what. It seems like you added up my life and I spent it all either stomping other men or in some cases getting stomped. Had me some money and had me some metals, but none of it seemed a lifetime worth the pain of the mother that bore me.

It’s like I was empty somehow. Well I’m not empty anymore. That’s what’s important — to feel useful in this old world. To hit a lick against what’s wrong or to say a word for what’s right even though you get walloped for saying that word.

Now I may sound like a Bible beater yelling up a revival at a river crossing camp meeting but that don’t change the truth none. There’s right and there’s wrong. You got to do one or the other. You do the one and you’re living. You do the other and you may be walking around, but your dead as a beaver hat.


  1. I dont think you need a ghostwriter, because this post is perfect. I think Im going to start regularly using the phrase “dead as a beaver hat.”

  2. shouldn’t it be “….but you’re dead as a beaver hat.” ?

Comments are closed.