We did not have television or newspapers on our farm out on Oak Grove Ridge in the middle of Crawford County in the 1940s and 1950s. Our news came from our school Weekly Reader, the Movietone News which seared in my memory the Lowell Thomas authoritative voice describing the battles occurring in the Korean War.
Our Silvertone radio was our window to the outside world. It sat on a low wooden stand in the corner of the living room. Dad’s rocking chair was placed in front of the radio. The heat register was nearby, bringing warm dry air from the basement furnace.
The all time favorite of Phillip, Bob, and me had to be the Lone Ranger program. It was broadcast on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights at 6 PM. In the winter, we tried to get our chores done, supper eaten, rosary said, and cows milked by 6. We usually made it just in time.
One of us would turn on the radio. We’d lie on the floor of the living room, or sit in a chair by the table, reading or doing homework and listen to the soft soothing voice of the Masked Man “Bringing law and order to the Old West”. The Lone Ranger’s trademark was the Silver Bullet and he rode on a big white stallion by the name of Silver.
His faithful companion was the Indian Tonto. Tonto’s broken English would be totally politically incorrect today. He would say “Me thinks you right, Kemo Sabe”. An outlaw would be referred to as “Him heap big bad man”. Tonto’s mount was the sorrel paint named Scout. At the end of the program The Long Ranger would be heard to yell, “Hi-yo, Silver! Away!”. A voice would ask “Who was that masked man?” Another knowing character would response with “Well, that’s the Lone Ranger!” and then a portion of the William Tell Overture would be heard.
Another favorite was Sergeant Preston of the Yukon. Sergeant Preston was a Canadian Mountie. Preston rode his horse, Rex and a canine companion, Yukon King, was always by his side. I can’t recall what breed of horse Rex was. Remember, this was radio, not television. But the Scheckel boys knew that Yukon King was a Huskie, the strongest and swiftest lead dog breaking the trail. Every Thursday night at 6 o’clock, Sergeant Preston was in a relentless pursuit of lawbreakers in the 1890’s desolate western Canadian frontier. He went after gold crazed miners, murderers, claim jumpers and cutthroats. There seemed to be a winter snow storm or blizzard in every episode.
We also loved the Cisco Kid radio series. We knew Cisco and Pancho were Mexican or at minimum, half Mexican. It seemed this pair of happy-go-lucky gun-toting caballeros was part outlaw. But they always seemed to help citizens in distress. At the end of each half hour program, one of them would tell a corny joke about the adventure they had just gone through. They would both laugh, drawing out a long ”Oooooooh Pancho! “Oooooooh Ceeesco!” and ride off into an imaginary sunset.
The Lone Ranger radio program took precedence over everything else for my Dad, Bruce McKillen. We lived in North Branch, MI (pop. 900) 1935-1953. Dad claimed he had met Brace Beemer in Detroit. The internet says this show played on WXYZ but I thought we heard it on WJR.
Dad also listened to Sgt. Preston, Green Hornet, FBI In Peace and War. Saturday mornings I listened to Let’s Pretend. Mom listened to Art Linkletter, Arthur Godfrey, and story shows like Stella Dallas and one with the lead-in “a girl from a little mining town in the West.”