REMEMBER THE ALAMO!
This is a 1955 edition of the Davy Crockett Alamo playset,
but with all the play figures and some of the walls missing.
In 1955, it was just about
the ultimate Xmas gift
By KENT HOLSATHER
"DAVY, DAVY CROCKETT--
KING OF THE WILD FRONTIER..."
...chart-topping tune in 1954-55
As I grow older, Christmases seem to bookend each other at an ever increasing rate. For the life of me, I couldnt begin to tell you what I got for a present last year. But 50 years ago? That's different.
The Christmas season of 1955 was a time of great expectation for me. This was the year that Disneys Davy Crockett was still a national phenomenon and I was caught up in the fad with just about every kid in the country.
In those days, it was the old Sears store on Cornwall Avenue that represented the center of the toy universe in Bellingham, Washington. My mother would take my brother and me to the toy department to marvel at the model trains and Marx play sets that had been set up to entice our imagination.
The aisles were jammed with all types of bikes, balls and dolls but the one item that drew me in like a magnet was an official Davy Crockett Alamo play set. Completely assembled.
It was the only thing I wanted for Christmas and it consumed my imagination like no toy had ever done before or since.
For the next several weeks leading up to Christmas, I hounded my parents so much that they put a gag order on me and I was told not to mention the subject at dinner or, for that matter, anytime during the last week before Christmas.
At left, actor
At right, is the
The holiday fell on a Sunday that year and it was decided that the presents would be opened before we went to church. Being the youngest, I was given the task of digging
under the tree to make sure that everyone got an equal chance to open a present. I would distribute the gifts all the while stockpiling my own hoard in anticipation of a paper shredding melee.
An hour had passed since the first package had been ferreted from under the tree and I sat in the middle of a pile of ripped wrappings with a half-hearted smile on my face.
My father looked down from his recliner, a collection of new ties dangling from the arm-rests.
You dont look too happy about your gifts, son?
I got some really nice stuff, Dad, but I thought that I was getting the Alamo set.
Well---sometimes we dont always get what we want, son.
It would be another hour before I found myself at church with my parents and brother. I began to accept the fact that I should be happy no matter what I got, especially after being reminded of the real meaning of Christmas throughout the sermon.
When we arrived home I didnt feel quite as bad as I had before and I ran off to the bedroom to put on some jeans to play outside. As I headed for the door, my mother pointed to the tree saying that she thought she saw a package way in the back.
I stopped and knelt down to look. I could have sworn that all the presents were gone when we had left for church, but there it was, sitting resplendently in bright green wrapping paper. I pulled it out and took off the paper. I found myself staring at a picture of the Alamo on the front of a big cardboard box. I opened it up and proceeded to pull out bags of plastic men and metal walls and buildings.
It took the better part of the afternoon to put all the pieces together, a daunting task that required my brothers ability to read instructions to me. (Hey, I was only five years old!) Upon completion, we stood back and marveled at our work--attackers on the outside, defenders on the inside and the flag of the republic of Texas flying at full mast. It was time to call my friends.
For several years, that play set was the center of my world of imagination and I played with it religiously. As the years went by, it was finally shoved to the back of the closet and replaced with baseball gloves and footballs.
I guess I was lucky in some respects because, unlike my baseball card collection, my mother didnt throw the play set away. And I was lucky I was still able to bring it out and set it up for my daughter when she was five. We played with it for a couple of years until she grew too old for it and turned to more sophisticated forms of entertainment.
I put the Alamo back into the deep recesses of the closet but there is always hope for another encore in the future. Grandchildren should be coming along shortly when my daughter and her husband decide that its time for Gramps to have some playmates again, playmates intent on capturing the old mission sitting defiantly in the center of the kitchen floor.
©2005 by Kent Holsather. The illustration is drawn from elements taken from IMSI's Master Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, USA. This column first posted Dec. 19, 2005.
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