Thanks to his plant on Western, Simpson’s coffers grew, bolstered by the obsessiveness of Crockett fans. At the height of the craze, it was described by Life Magazine as "having a sudden and shattering effect on the nation’s home life" – because fans even wore their caps to bed.

     The Davy Crockett craze: A milestone

The Crockett cap mania proved more than merely a dollar phenomenon.

"It 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."

King considers the ‘craze’ as more than mere popular culture, and she places it "at the center of the image and hero-making process … generating an elaborate, unpredictable interplay between the media’s public figures and the mass audience."

A role was played in the craze by the economic ‘boom’ of the 1950’s. But the phenomenon occurred because of television:

"The 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 Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats in radio history, in its power to produce ‘peak’ audience response, especially among children."

"Disney 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."

"This 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."

The Crockett phenomenon was indeed a complex affair.

It 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, Collier’s, Harpers, the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Life – even the Congressional Record.

Almost 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 Disney’s defense: "Its all in the democratic tradition and who said tradition must be founded on 100% verified fact."

J. 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.

In March of 1959, when he was 67, he helmed Arctic Fur’s 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 coasts").

But Gutmann had named it the "Hudson Bay Fur Company." The company’s 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 Hudson’s Bay Company."

Never fazed by the Alaskan Way Viaduct, Simpson promptly installed a billboard which would face it. There, he trumpeted his company’s new name (Alaska-Arctic Furs) to the oncoming traffic.

There, 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."

Simpson 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.

Reddin penned a profile of Simpson’s varied career, conducting his interview in Simpson’s office high in D.C. Keeney's building:

"In 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.

Simpson, 73, is one of Seattle’s 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."

Even on December 14, 1966, when a reader wrote the Seattle Times "Troubleshooter," asking "where to purchase a Davy Crockett hat," she was told:

"Alaska-Arctic 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 world’s supply of wolf skins…the fad’s 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."

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