Crockett cap mania proved more than merely a dollar phenomenon.
was," writes critic Margaret King, "an important pop cultural
event because of its unexpected, far-reaching impact
on American life and because of what it reveals about American
values, ideals and aspirations."
considers the craze as more than mere popular
culture, and she places it "at the center of the image and
generating an elaborate, unpredictable
interplay between the medias public figures and the
role was played in the craze by the economic boom
of the 1950s. But the phenomenon occurred because of
Crockett craze is considered by students of television to
be one of the great events of the television age, and they
credit it with a social impact equal to that of the Orson
Welles "Invasion from Mars" broadcast or Roosevelts
Fireside Chats in radio history, in its power to produce peak
audience response, especially among children."
entered the field of television programming just as television
had hit its stride as a significant cultural activity, but
before every household had made its investment in a private
receiver. Since sets still were shared between friends and
neighbors, especially among children, this situation gave
a communal impetus to the watching and then to the re-enacting
of the Crockett drama in the back lot or schoolyard, combining
enthusiasm for television with a large child audience forced
to share that enthusiasm because of limited viewing facilities."
communal setting was almost unique to the period of the craze
and doubtless provided the special matrix which helped touch
off the phenomenon and to produce its surprising success in
a media situation which could not later be duplicated."
Crockett phenomenon was indeed a complex affair.
came from a particular social, economic, and political moment
and, because of this, analyses of all its aspects appeared
in Time, the New York Times, Tide, the New Yorker, the Christian
Science Monitor, Saturday Review, Newsweek, Variety, TV Guide,
Colliers, Harpers, the Wall Street Journal, Business
Week, Life even the Congressional Record.
every pundit in the country had a theory to offer, from William
H. Buckley (a staunch Crockett defender) to critic Brendon
Sexton, Education Director of the United Auto Workers. Strangely,
the Communist Worker rallied to Disneys defense: "Its
all in the democratic tradition and who said tradition must
be founded on 100% verified fact."
B. Simpson must have agreed with the Communist Worker; his
caps, after all, were frankly imitations. But
then, Simpson always made the best of any moment.
March of 1959, when he was 67, he helmed Arctic Furs
acquisition of the Alaska Fur Company. Alaska had been founded
in 1900 by Moritz Gutmann (a trader "who had traveled by canoe
with Indian guides, along the British Columbia and Alaska
Gutmann had named it the "Hudson Bay Fur Company." The companys
name was changed only in 1942, as settlement of a six-year
court case waged by the Governor & Company of Adventurers
of England, who were "commonly known as the Hudsons
fazed by the Alaskan Way Viaduct, Simpson promptly installed
a billboard which would face it. There, he trumpeted his companys
new name (Alaska-Arctic Furs) to the oncoming traffic.
until 1999, it remained: a commercial billboard on the South
facade. Simpson also told the press he was still active at
his plant, "directing
wholesale production and manufacturing."
also continued to dine off his Crockett stories. Although
the fad itself was played out by 1956, many in the city remembered
his strange fluke of fortune. He, too, recalled it when, eight
years later, he held court for journalist John J. Reddin.
penned a profile of Simpsons varied career, conducting
his interview in Simpsons office high in D.C. Keeney's
the top floor loft of his four story brick building at Western
Avenue and Bell Street, James Branson Simpson, a wealth but
leather-tough old sourdough, is surrounded by timberwolves.
Also the pelts of uncounted muskrats and wolverines.
73, is one of Seattles truly colorful personalities,
a fabulously successful fur speculator and owner of virtually
every timber wolf pelt (plus most other varieties of wolf
pelts) in the United States today.
when the Davy Crockett craze hit the country and every youngster
had to have a Davy Crockett hat with a fur tail (and the price
of unwanted fur tails suddenly skyrocketed from 1 cent to
almost $1), Simpson just happened to have more than 2 million
tails in storage, by far the biggest supply of Davy Crockett
tails in the country."
on December 14, 1966, when a reader wrote the Seattle Times
"Troubleshooter," asking "where to purchase a Davy Crockett
hat," she was told:
Furs is the place to go. Eleven years ago, when the fur-hat
fad swept the country, the choicest type was made by this
Seattle firm, which controlled 90% of the worlds supply
of wolf skins
the fads popularity was as brief
as it was spectacular. But the hats make a comeback at Christmas-time,
which is natural as they always have been a popular seasonal
item. You may obtain a wolfskin hat with a plastic crown for
only $1.98. A fully-lined Commando hat complete
with ear-flaps and a timber-wolf tail, is available for $9.95."