When I was a kid, I loved to listen to the radio. I listened to whatever was on: the soap operas, the crime shows, the comedies, the variety series, and the westerns. Of them all, The Lone Ranger was my favorite.
Maybe it was the theme music. As far as I’m concerned, there’s never been a better use of theme music than in that radio show. I suspect that anybody who listened to it as a kid would agree with me. It was tremendously exciting, and it was worked into the program expertly as each episode played out.
Or maybe it was the voices. When I was listening to radio, the Ranger was played by deep-voiced Brace Beemer (great name!), and while I’m very fond of Clayton Moore, who took over for the TV version, Beemer will always be the Lone Ranger to me. The announcer was Fred Foy (another great name, another great voice), and he was perfect at filling in the little gaps between the scenes. John Todd might not have been the PC choice for Tonto, but for me he filled the role wonderfully.
The thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver were heard often, and the cries of “Hi-Yo, Silver, away!” and “Get ‘em up, Scout!” were enough to get a kid’s blood pumping.
On the other hand, maybe it was the premiums. You could get some wonderful stuff for a few boxtops and a dime or a quarter. Sadly, my order for the Atom Bomb Ring was lost in the mail, returned to me months or years later from the Dead Letter Office, which was the first I’d ever heard of that place. However, I did get a Silver Saddle Ring, and I’m happy to say that I still have it. You can see one here.
You might say that my love of the show couldn’t have been because of the masked hero because, after all, I couldn’t see the mask. That didn’t matter, because I could easily imagine it. Even if I couldn’t have, I had the comic books, which were a fine supplement to the radio show. I have no idea who the artist was, but even after all these years, I can still remember some of the drawings with astounding clarity.
And we haven’t even talked about the Lone Ranger’s character. What a sterling representative of the Old West he was. He could be tough or tender, and even when he was seeking revenge on those who’d killed his family and friends, he was above all an honorable man. He used good English, too.
It was, of course, a combination of all those things that made the show so great for me, and many more besides. Certainly one of them was the mask. There’s just something about a masked hero that kids love, and the Lone Ranger’s mask was simple but effective. You can have your gorilla masks or your Richard Nixon masks or your Angry Birds masks, but give me the Lone Ranger style anytime. I wore one at Halloween every year when I was a kid. It wasn’t hot, I could breathe easily, and so what if people thought they knew who I was? The William Tell Overture was playing in my head, and I was really the Lone Ranger, no matter what they thought. If they’d asked, I’d probably have handed them a silver bullet.
There have been rumors for a while now of a proposed Lone Ranger movie, with Johnny Depp as Tonto. I’m not fond of the idea. No movie could never live up to what I imagined and played out with my friends so many years ago.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go slip on my Silver Saddle Ring and see if I can find some Lone Ranger comic books on eBay.
Bill Crider is a Texas writer, author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, fan of the Kingston Trio, and a collector of baseball cards.