My Old Kentucky Homesite

Actually, It’s My NEW Kentucky Homesite

Posted by Larry Wallberg on 11/03/2009

If anyone had predicted a few decades ago that, at sixty years old, I’d be moving my seventy boxes of books and my one-and-a-half plastic bags of clothing to Kentucky, I’d have said, “And I suppose I’ll be rooming with Daniel Boone?”

Because, really, most of us parochial New Yawkers can think of only two famous Kentuckians: Daniel Boone and Man O’ War. If you press us for another, we might come up with Jim Beam.

To the average New Yawker, Kentucky is in a whole nother solar system. To tell the truth, half of us get it mixed up with Tennessee. Maybe that has something to do with Fess Parker having played both Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. Whatever the reason, to a New Yawker’s mind, Kentucky and Tennessee are two names for the same place. They’re both mostly mountains and trees, so what’s the difference? Everything is high and green and represented by Fess Parker, definitely not green but maybe high, in a coonskin cap.

We New Yawkers tend to dismiss as unimportant any people who come from places where most of the trees don’t grow up through the sidewalk. That’s because we believe  we live in the center of the universe. Oh, we might give a nod of recognition to a few other intergalactic specks, like London or Paris, L.A. or D.C., perhaps Yonkers if we’ve spent any time “upstate.” [Note: “Upstate” is any city in New York State that lies north of the Bronx, unless you’re a Manhattanite, in which case “upstate” includes the Bronx.]  We know that somewhat south of the Battery is a place called Florida, and west of Riverside Drive is Jersey. But we’re not too concerned about elsewheres. A pianist friend of mine from Iowa was once asked – by a female New Yawker concert-goer – where he grew up. When he told her, she asked him to repeat the name of his state. Then she said, “Wow, I always thought it was pronounced O-Hi-O.”

Anyway, I’m in Kentucky now, and this blog is going to be about how I adjust. Or fail to. In my next post, I’ll explain how I happened to make the big move. In the meantime, I’ll be staring at everyone I meet, looking for descendants of Daniel Boone. So far, I haven’t seen a single person who looks like Fess Parker. Actually, that’s not so surprising, since he was born in Texas.

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11 Responses to “Actually, It’s My NEW Kentucky Homesite”

  1. John Evo said

    Being from L.A., I would have said Fess Parker died in Texas, if I had to venture a guess. Who knew? Good luck with that move. I’ll be interested in how it works out for you.

  2. srsny said

    I didn’t know Fess Parker was born in Texas, but of course he died there – at the Alamo!

  3. Yeah, Parker was killed by the Mexicans when he tried to sell his Frontier Red to Santa Ana. According to the blurb at the Fess Parker Winery web site:

    Frontier Red is made in the same down-to-earth spirit of the frontiersmen who tamed this land. …Send a bottle to your mother or your cousin who grew up watching Crockett or Boone on Sunday nights — they’ll love it!

    Although, if he had really been a Kentuckian, he would have been pushing corn likker. And, of course, fried chicken.

    (FYI: Harland Sanders was born and bred in Indiana. But he did kick the bucket in Kentucky.)

  4. linwood said

    Davy Crocket I know – fringed suit, funny hat, rifle. Killed a bear. Even in England we’ve heard of him. But, er, who’s Daniel Boone? Not a founding father, not a president, not a WWII hero. What else is there to be famous for?

  5. TSM said

    Besides Jim Beam a New Yorker might look for I.W. Harper a pal of Jim Beam who even Kentuckians can’t find now a days.

  6. srsny said

    Daniel Boone – frontiersman – “the great trailblazer” – had something to do with the Cumberland Gap. That’s all I remember. Larry tells me he never wore a coonskin cap, despite the TV show we used to watch as kids.

    Really – this is showing how old Larry and I are. We learned about all this stuff – pre internet – from really awful movies and TV shows, and from that great historian, Walt Disney.

  7. srsny:
    We learned about all this stuff – pre internet – from really awful movies and TV shows, and from that great historian, Walt Disney.
    Hey, was Daniel Boone the one whose mice turned his pumpkin into a coach? Is that how he travelled through the Cumberland Gap? If I remember correctly, he had to turn back by midnight.

    linwood:
    … fringed suit, funny hat, rifle. Killed a bear.
    When I was a kid, I misheard the fourth line of the Davy Crockett theme song. The actual lyric said: And kilt him a b’ar when he was only three. But I thought he was kilt in a bar when he was only three. Probably from drinking too much of that Kentucky moonshine. (I’m talking about Crockett, not me.)

    Unlike Davy Crockett, who was mainly a self-promoting story-teller, Boone actually accomplished some things. He was one of the wild men who explored and helped to settle what is now Kentucky. I haven’t been here long enough to decide whether or not I think that was a worthwhile endeavor in the long run.

  8. Catherwood said

    While ole Fess was born in Texas, he didn’t die there. In fact he isn’t dead yet. He took the money made during the Disney years and bought land just north of Santa Barbara. His vinyards turn out well received wines and boast a world class spa and resort. He’s worth millions more than he made from TV and movies. He most certainly did wear a coon skin cap in the original Davy Crockett shows he did with Buddy Ebsen as his side kick. Probably due to contractural considerations with Disney (which did not produce the Daniel Boone show) he did not wear a coon skin cap in that show. In 1954 you were nobody if you didn’t have an official Davy Crockett coon skin cap. I suffered as just such a nobody until the price came down after Christmas and I got one for my birthday.

  9. Catherwood:
    You’re lucky your parents put you off for a few months. Mine bought me a cheap Asian knock-off T-shirt during the height of the craze. My chest was emblazoned with an unrecognizable caricature of a coonskin-capped somebody and the misspelled words “Davey Crocket, King of the Wild Fronter.” Maybe he was kilt in a bar because he was wearing that.

  10. srsny said

    I have been experiencing an intense sense memory of wearing my coonskin cap, walking up Tremont Avenue in the Bronx to the Honeywell Avenue library. I know this may seem politically incorrect, but there was something comforting about the feel of real fur. And I recall it had a brownish-gold quilted lining. I have no idea whether this was a cheap knockoff or the real thing – probably the former. I never owned real Keds either. This nostalgic trip is a bit unsettling. I am now recalling the gunpowder aroma of a recently fired cap pistol, the creamy cool taste of a meloroll ice cream and… oh my god, stop me before I get on the train to Willoughby!

  11. Srsny:
    oh my god, stop me before I get on the train to Willoughby!
    I thought you were already on the Atchison, Topeka & the Santa Fe.

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