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1914-1999

The Clayton Moore
Memorial Sevice

  

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  THE CRIMSON CORRAL: Western Memories
 
THE LONE RANGER (Radio)

Brace Beemer
Born: (unknown) - Died: Mar. 1, 1965
Jack Carton Moore, aka: Clayton Moore
Born: Sept. 14, 1914 - Died: Dec. 28, 1999


By John DiMezzes

I was 4 or 5 years old. Either mumps or measles decided that I had had enough fun playing with my friends, and now it was time for me to share with so many of them the illness of the time. My wounds, however, from big M's ambush were to be somewhat salved by an unexpected posse of perks. For one thing, I was given my parents' room and bed (to quarantine me, I guess, from my brother with whom I shared a bedroom). Next, I was visited by all manner of relatives who expressed their sympathies and concerns, some replete with ice cream. I sure was in the spotlight. Being sick in bed, I discovered, was not going to be all bad---my older brother was even nice to me.

But the best was yet to come when my father arrived home from work on that first day of my attention-attracting ailment. As soon as he came up to see me, I complained from my newly-acquired, now vast sick-bed throne (I learned fast) about how upset I was that I could not go outside and play, and how boring it was to have to stay in bed. Then, he changed my life:

"There are radio shows you can listen to," he said, in an effort to placate me. "Ahh, I don't want to listen to music, " I whined. "No. Stories….cowboys, for instance. There's a show you might like on tonight."

Brace Beemer was radio's Lone Ranger on that night when I caught up to him. The onslaught of the William Tell Overture, the Fred Foy narration, the white horse, the mask and silver bullets, the Indian companion, the image-inducing sound effects, and, most of all, the Lone Ranger's voice (was there ever such a melodious, trustworthy, fatherly, heroic, instant idol-inducing voice?) sent me into a world of imagination that knew nor sought no exit. From then on, three nights out of each week-Monday, Wednesday, and Friday--- for 15 minutes each night, would belong to that world and to his ethic. The Lone Ranger saw me through the measles and the mumps, but also rode with me through my life.

As if these programs of the "thrilling days of yesteryear" weren't enough in themselves, there was an added joy that extended itself beyond the radio and right to your mailbox…the "premium." For ten cents and a Cheerios or Kix box-top, there were all sorts of desirable "toys" and gadgets to be had. The Lone Ranger offered such an array of imaginative and meticulously detailed premiums that it is now hard to believe that all that care and workmanship went into something costing only a dime. Premiums were a way for radio programs such as "The Lone Ranger" to gauge the extent of their listening audience. Boy, did they ever discover the crowds which they had.

Each new premium offer produced with it an opportunity for every kid, including myself, to hone his selling skills. For example, I would have to convince my mom to buy the cereal that came with the necessary box top over it ( quite often the more indigestible varieties would have to be ingested by mom and dad), and persuade my dad to supply me with the actual hard cash. Looking back, I believe he enjoyed putting me through my paces by asking me why I wanted a certain ring or whatever, what did it do, how did it look, and, in short, making me work for it. Even if he didn't ask, I made sure to cover all the nuances involved in the highly prized treasure. I didn't want to foul up my chances. Nevertheless, all the begging effort was worth that thrill-yes, thrill---of waiting for the mailman to deliver to you (another amazement-something being mailed directly to you, not your parents) that little brown box which contained an atomic bomb ring, a secret compartment deputy badge, or that saddle ring with the strip of film which could be viewed on the glow in the dark pad hidden beneath the sliding saddle. Then, the added fun of explaining to all whom you could trap to listen the wonders of each premium ("Mom, I don't know if you're aware, but this badge has a secret compartment which right now contains a message which I hid there"). Man, were they ever impressed! Right?

(There were so many LR radio premiums , but that would be a topic for another time, maybe with accompanying pictures? The premiums are quite collectible today, to the extent that what once cost ten cents may now be valued in the hundreds of dollars. But, of course, most parents were possessed of the "getting rid of the childhood junk" syndrome. Many small fortunes gone).

When I was 6, The Lone Ranger came to TV. We did not have a set as yet, so my parents arranged for a trip to my grandmother's house for me to see the very first installment starring Clayton Moore. I was, needless to say, very excited, and could barely wait for that fantastic Friday to arrive. After all, this was the first time I was to SEE him in action (at that time, I knew not of the 2 previous serial appearances). Friday finally came. I was poised 6 inches away from grandmom's set, 7:30 eastern time, and….no Lone Ranger. I had, I could not believe, made a mistake on the date. Excruciating, idiotic mistake. LR had already thundered Silver's hoof beats across Thursday night's screen, the day before. All of the adults in the room, dismayed that I had missed that which I had planned for and been so excited to see, were crestfallen, so much so that it changed any overt disappointment on my part to a conciliatory pleading with them consisting of things like, "Don't worry, I'll see next week's show" and "No problem, I'll just listen to tonight's radio show which is on right now." I will say, however, that when I went over to that corner and sat and faced the radio, my back to everyone, I sure was grateful to be alone. I heard not one word from that night's radio performance. It would not be until over 30 years later that VCRs finally would allow me to see that very first episode.

One last memory involves Clayton Moore. One day in the early 50's, my older cousin called to tell me that The Lone Ranger was to appear in person at the Philadelphia Gimbels department store. We both hopped a subway to center city, and then, as we walked down Market Street, a white Cadillac drove by us. We caught enough of a glimpse to know that LR was in there on his way. Our walk became a run in an attempt to reach the store in time. Unfortunately, we were too late to get into the area where we could view him in all his splendor, so, guided by my cousin, we sneaked behind some partitions to what might be called "back stage." There, we could see but not hear Clayton Moore, dressed in full Lone Ranger costume, gesturing to the crowd. I was amazed at how he looked---even better in person than he did on the screen. I mean, you KNEW this man had to be a "movie star." I sure wished we could have heard him, and, better still, could have seen more than his back, but, then, a bit of anxiety set in. 

The Lone Ranger and his small entourage had apparently completed the presentation. They all turned and began heading in our direction. "Now , we are caught," I thought, being where we should not have been. How embarrassing to get into trouble in front of The Lone Ranger, no less. The entourage passed first and didn't even glance our way. But, The Lone Ranger, as he passed, looked down at me, smiled, touched his hat, and winked…at me. I floated home that day.

John DiMezzes

 
Click HERE for more info and a Filmography on Clayton Moore

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