When I was young and growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, I lived across the street from my older cousin Sam. And since my little sister was too young to be hanging out with us (and too young to be cool), it was often just me and him finding ways to stay busy over the summer or enjoying free evenings before we were old enough to have homework.
And as the title above implies, in many ways, I grew up with Davy Crockett. Here’s why.
Not only did Sam adore Davy Crockett, and educate me on the Battle of the Alamo before I was even in kindergarten, but he also wore a coonskin cap everywhere he went for about three years of his childhood. I remember us riding our bikes around the neighborhood, Sam with his cap on, and he would often would be singing:
“...Davy, Davy Crockett, the king of the wild frontier...”
(I didn’t know that Crockett died at the Alamo until I learned American history in the third grade. I was convinced a man so heroic and courageous could never die. Thanks, Sam.)
Not only was Sam a fan of Crockett, but he was also a brave adventurer, similar to how I assume the frontiersman was during his life. Sam would lead our neighborhood group on “missions,” he showed us the shortcuts to get to school faster and taught me how to climb to the top of the tallest pine trees.
Since we were only a year apart in school, we ended up spending a lot of time together. Whether we were playing basketball in the driveway or spying on the old lady down the street, we were always occupied with the next thing we thought up. And Sam didn’t suffer from lack of imagination — when I was in the first grade, he had me convinced that we needed to walk all the way to New York City to fight in a war – equipped with Fisher Price plastic knives and sticks for guns. I like to think my imagination was also pretty great, but mostly, I think I was just a gullible child.
Sam, our friends and I spent countless afternoons exploring Hillsboro Road and playing kickball until the sun went down. When it rained, we would play “Backyard Baseball” on the computer, and when it snowed, we would sled down nearby hills until our fingers were frozen. In the summer, we would sell lemonade (25 cents for large cup, 10 cents for small), and in the fall, we would create leaf forts.
We had a sort of gang, Sam Crockett and I did, with the other neighborhood kids, but Sam was always the leader. When we were bored out of our minds, he would create challenges — one of which led to us running around his parents’ basement for the entire length of Gloria Estefan’s song “Conga.” Why? I still don’t know. Another challenge had our neighbor Bryce and I digging a hole under Sam’s tree house, a project that had absolutely no purpose except to keep us from annoying my cousin, I assume.
Currently, Sam is a sports journalist in Louisville. While I’ve spent years of my life living in different states, he’s been adventuring in a different way. He’s stayed in one place.
Sam went to college at U of L, and after graduating, got a job at a local newspaper. While we both work as journalists now, we’ve had a different way of getting to where we are. But even though we’re now both college graduates, at family gatherings or holiday meals, I still view him as a 7-year-old running around with a coonskin cap – and I feel that young, too. Most days I also feel like that 6-year-old who forgets to look both ways before running across the street to his house.
Sam, the Crockett fan, is still as adventurous as ever. Staying in one place for a long time is actually more dangerous than it seems. Threats of boredom loom and as people move in and out of your life, relationships change while you stay in one place. It sometimes seems easier to be the person who leaves first. But as my favorite musician Brandi Carlile says, “You might make it further if you learn to stay.”
Sam has learned to stay and how to find adventure in one place. Winning awards every year at the Kentucky Press Association Convention and creating vlogs to increase the popularity of his newspaper, Sam’s become a king of his own wild frontier – it just so happens to be where his career as a present-day Crockett began.