Traveling to his past has effect on future

Actor Fess Parker, dressed as Davey Crockett, rides with Walt Disney at Disneyland in 1955.  (PRNewsFoto)
Actor Fess Parker, dressed as Davey Crockett, rides with Walt Disney at Disneyland in 1955. (PRNewsFoto) PRN

The boy lost track of him years ago.

It was nothing dramatic, really. He just, well, sort of faded away.

Davy Crockett, that is.

The boy first met him when he was almost 5 years old. That was about the same time the boy was hospitalized after being mauled by a dog.

For a time, Davy would become -- after the boy's father -- the most important man in his life. The boy couldn't imagine a life without him or his homespun common sense or his coonskin cap. So, a few years later, the boy cried; then, refused to believe it, when he learned, through a movie, that Davy had died in the Battle of the Alamo.

No way.


C'mon. He'd killed himself a "bar" when he was only 3.

"Day-vee, Day-vee Crockett,

"King of the wild frontier."

Years passed. The boy never did figure out what happened to his old coonskin cap. The significance of his loss faded with time.

Boys do grow up, after all. And certain things are meant to be put aside. But other things inadvertently get lost -- buried under the debris that piles up over the course of a lifetime.

Important things.

Necessary things.

Who knows how it happens or why it happens. It just does.

Against that backdrop, the boy -- now 58 years old -- arrived in Anaheim on Tuesday afternoon. He was headed to Disneyland. It wasn't his idea.

No. This plot was hatched a year ago, when Maggs found out he never had visited Walt's Magic Kingdom. There was nothing sinister about it, it just never happened. He grew up in Chicago, a long way from California. He was, however, a devoted follower of TV's "Wonderful World of Disney" as well as the "Mickey Mouse Club."

At first, it all seemed kind of silly to him. I mean, taking a grown man to Disneyland to celebrate his 58th birthday. Though he enjoyed watching the expressions -- a combination of stunned disbelief and pity -- on the faces of friends and acquaintances when they learned he never had been there.

Can you imagine?

Dave, for one, was incredulous.

"So, what are YOU going to do at Disneyland?" he scoffed. "You've got some health issues. I mean, you won't be able to go on any of the, you know, any of the REALLY GOOD rides. They're pretty intense. Don't you have high blood pressure and heart problems?"

Let the record show that even with high blood pressure (controlled quite nicely, thank you, through medication, diet and exercise) and angioplasty in 2001 (no stents needed and his heart built its own natural bypass around a blockage the surgeon was unable to clear), all systems were go Wednesday.

He pulled it off without a hitch. There were no incidents. No ill effects to report.

Just fun.

More fun than he had enjoyed in quite some time.

He and Maggs started at the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland. They also experienced the Pirates of the Caribbean (twice), Star Tours (a simulated trip into outer space with a crazy droid manning the helm) and the Indiana Jones Adventure.

In between, he filled in with some attractions, that, while more sedate, still managed to fulfill a few long-lost dreams -- riding the monorail, walking through Sleeping Beauty's Castle, riding the ponies on King Arthur's Carrousel.

It all was better than he ever could have imagined.

He and Maggs even managed to book passage on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, the attraction with the longest lines all day long. The wait didn't matter.

His only regret?

Nine hours wasn't enough time to cover everything on his list.

It was, however, more than enough to rediscover some of the things he had been missing for so long. Things buried deeper than any treasure sought by Indiana Jones.

Things as simple as laughter.

Laughter without self-conscious strings attached.

Things like a child's unburdened eyes.

Eyes that, above all else, believe what they see as they float in an open boat through a pirate's lair in the dead of night.

Things pure and true, like the heart of a boyhood hero.

A hero, who, without ever knowing it, helped a frightened boy not only survive, but grow into the man who would celebrate his 58th birthday at Disneyland, thanks to Maggs.

Now, I'd like to be able to tell you that he found Davy Crockett waiting for him in Frontierland. That they shook hands and hugged, right there, after he exited the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. That they rode off into the sunset -- together.

They didn't, of course.

But, I tell you, as sure as I'm sitting here and banging away at this laptop computer, that Davy's there, all right. He really did escape the carnage at the Alamo, just like the boy had figured. Davy lived to fight another day -- just like the boy who put his trust in him all those years ago.

And I've got the coonskin cap to prove it.

Mike Mooney's column appears every Friday in Local News. He can be reached at mmooney@modbee.com or 578-2384.

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