“Why, don’t you know? That’s the Lone Ranger!”
The William Tell overture swelled in the background as we heard him shout, “Hi Yo, Silver, awa-a-a-y! ” Is there a person anywhere who can hear the William Tell overture and not think of the Lone Ranger?
I spent many childhood hours listening to the radio or watching TV to hear tales of the Old West and the Lone Ranger with his faithful Indian companion, Tonto. I would rush home from school to be sure not to miss the program.
There were a lot of cowboy heroes back then: Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Johnny Mack Brown, Wild Bill Hickok and The Cisco Kid. But the greatest of them all was the mysterious Lone Ranger.
The Lone Ranger always wore a black mask to protect his identity, and the mask was part of his mystique. Because of this, he was sometimes mistaken for an outlaw, but he would always set the record straight and prove that he was on the side of law and justice. I think the idea was to be known not for WHO he was, but for WHAT he was.
Cowboy heroes needed suitable transportation and the Lone Ranger rode a large white steed named Silver. I’m not sure why its name was Silver as it seems that Whitey would have fit better, but nevertheless, the horse was named Silver. The horse was smart far beyond normal equine expectations and could always be counted on to gallop in and help the Lone Ranger out of a pinch if he whistled.
The Lone Ranger was really big on silver things. Silver horseshoes were worn by Silver, the horse, and the Lone Ranger always used silver bullets in his gun. According to legend, he owned a silver mine. I guess that is how he was able to afford to ride around the countryside hunting down outlaws instead of working.
Cowboys back then always had a “sidekick” that rode with them. The sidekick made the coffee and beans when they camped, held the horses while the hero fought the bad guys, and was always eternally loyal. The Lone Ranger had a clever companion in Tonto, who could sneak into town unnoticed and do surveillance. The Lone Ranger could not sneak in unnoticed as the black mask and white horse gave him away every time.
Like millions of other kids, I was completely taken in by all of this imaginary hype. I joined the Lone Ranger’s Safety Club and had my own card identifying me as a member. I had a genuine Long Ranger badge and knew the secret code for messages. I never had any bad guys or sheriffs check me out, but I was ready if they did.
I also had a cap gun and holster with silver plastic bullets. I would have worn a mask as well, but it was too hot and hard to see out of the eyeholes. I don’t know how the Lone Ranger became such a good shot while wearing a mask. The Lone Ranger could shoot the gun right out of a bad guy’s hand and never leave a scratch.
The Lone Ranger went from radio to become a star on TV and make movie serials, still wearing the trademark mask and fighting against the bad guys. Nowadays we would call him a vigilante, but in the Old West roaming the plains and looking for outlaws to bring to justice was an acceptable occupation.
The Lone Ranger captured the imagination of a million kids, and gave us a bigger-than-life hero with strong moral values, something we don’t see enough of now. I don’t know what ever happened to him, but I suppose he was canceled and just faded away into the sunset before we had time to thank him, leaving nothing behind but a silver bullet. Anything else would be travesty.
After all, he’s the Lone Ranger.