You remember Michael Johnson… he wrote HEALING SHINE. Wonderful book. Wonderful man.
Anyway, Michael emailed me this weekend with this lovely missive.
I thought I’d pass it onto you~
FROM MICHAEL JOHNSON
THROWING MY LOOP…
HI YO, SILVER!
“A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty Hi Yo Silver! The Lone Ranger! With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early western United States! Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice! Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear! From out of the past come the thundering hoof beats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again!”
And then we would hear…
“Come on, Silver! Let’s go, big fellow! Hi Yo, Silver! Away!”
(Isn’t that just about the best thing you ever heard in your life?)
According to Wikipedia, The Lone Ranger came into the world in 1933 from a WXYZ Detroit station script writer named Fran Striker. For 2,956 episodes, The Lone Ranger and Tonto rode right through the radio into living rooms all across America. Though the series was aimed at children, adults made up at least half the audience. The television show aired from 1949 until 1957 starring Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger, and Jay Silverheels (Harry Smith) – a Mohawk lacrosse player from Canada – as Tonto. Both Moore and Silverheels took their responsibility as role models for young people seriously all their lives. Here are a few examples from the “Lone Ranger’s Creed.”
“To have a friend, a man must be one.”
“All men are created equal and all have to power to make this a better world.”
“God put the firewood here, but every man must gather and light it himself.”
“We must be prepared to fight physically, mentally, and morally for what is right.”
“That sooner or later, somewhere, somehow we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.”
“That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.”
“I believe in my Creator, my country, and my fellow man.”
(Think there’s any way we might bring that back?)
Why the mask? Because when six Texas Rangers are ambushed by outlaws at the beginning of the series, an Indian named Tonto comes along to find one Ranger remains alive. Tonto saves the life of the young man named John Reid. Tonto digs six graves to trick the outlaws into believing all the Rangers are dead. The Lone Ranger dons his mask to honor his fallen comrades so the outlaws will never know which one brought them to justice.
My favorite episode tells the story of how Silver came to be with the Lone Ranger. In the early days, the Lone Ranger rode a chestnut mare called Dusty. The Lone Ranger and Tonto happen on a white stallion fighting an enraged buffalo. The horse is severely injured, but Tonto applies a poultice made from tree sap, and the two men spend the night by firelight ministering to the fallen animal. As you might expect, the horse is alive at dawn. Tonto and the Lone Ranger watch him rise and begin to trot away. “Him make good horse for you, Kemo Sabe,” says Tonto.
“No, Tonto,” says the Lone Ranger. “It must be his decision.”
Silver stops and turns to look at the two men…then comes trotting back to the Lone Ranger.
The rest is history.
The Lone Ranger always spoke precisely and used perfect grammar. Neither he nor Tonto ever drank or smoked, and when forced to use their guns, only maimed their opponents as painlessly as possible. And that’s why he used silver bullets – to remind himself that life was precious and should not be wasted or thrown away. And no matter how hard we might try, you and I simply cannot imagine the Lone Ranger or Tonto ever being in a saloon at two in the morning… and shooting themselves in the leg with their own gun…now, can you?
Clayton Moore was born in Chicago, Illinois. He began his career as a circus acrobat at age eight, later becoming a trapeze artist. Silverheels suffered a stroke in 1976. For years prior, the Lone Ranger and Tonto had ridden in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena; the Lone Ranger on Silver and Tonto on the paint called “Scout.” In 1977, Clayton Moore rode alone, and that was the only day the Lone Ranger ever rode a horse other than Dusty or Silver. On that day to honor his friend…the Lone Ranger rode a paint.
Clayton Moore died in California at age 85 in 1999 from a heart attack. Throughout his career, he expressed love and respect for Jay Silverheels. Silverheels – who also lived in California – died in 1980 due to complications from the stroke he suffered earlier. He was 67 years old.
On their arrival in heaven, I’m sure the Lord himself must have helped Saint Peter check them in…and heaven is all the better for it.
-– Michael Johnson
— Junior Lone Ranger