March 13, 2013 - eader Editor
Oxford Elementary fourth-grader Chloe Couchie studies the Lone Ranger exhibit during a recent visit to the Northeast Oakland Historical Museum. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
It's certainly shaping up to be a banner year for the Lone Ranger, famous fictional hero of America's Old West.
There's a Hollywood blockbuster about the masked lawman starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp opening July 3.
Plus, it's the 80th anniversary of The Lone Ranger radio program, which hit the airwaves way back in 1933.
Now is a perfect time for Oxford residents, particularly the younger generations, to learn all about the crusading cowboy and his adventures bringing outlaws to justice.
There's no better place locally to immerse one's self in Lone Ranger lore than the Northeast Oakland Historical Museum, located at 1 N. Washington St. in downtown Oxford.
"I think that (the Lone Ranger) stood for high ideals and if you've ever read his creed, it has high standards (of conduct). I think kids need to strive for that," said lifelong Oxford resident Sue Bossardet, who serves on the board of directors for the Northeast Oakland Historical Society.
The museum features a permanent Lone Ranger display, most of which is dedicated to Brace Beemer, the longtime Oxford resident who portrayed the masked man on the radio from 1941-54.
Beemer, who died in 1965, played the Lone Ranger in more than 2,000 broadcasts. His voice was heard by more than 80 million listeners nationwide on 129 radio stations.
Although it's small, the museum display features numerous old photos of Beemer (with and without the mask), his white cowboy hat, small statues depicting the Lone Ranger atop his horse Silver, and a Lone Ranger coloring book and record album.
There's even a pair of handcuffs given to Beemer by legendary lawman J. Edgar Hoover, who ran the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1924-72.
For kids, even big ones, who want a souvenir of their visit, the museum sells Lone Ranger-style masks for 50 cents each.
"The kids love it," said Bossardet, who explained that many of them don't actually know who the Lone Ranger is, "but they're just fascinated with the idea" of him.
"He's a hero and I think kids get into that aspect of it," she said.
Bossardet indicated that for many of the adult visitors, it's a walk down memory lane as they recall The Lone Ranger television series that ran from 1949-57.
Bossardet is hoping to potentially expand the exhibit this year with some items on loan from private collections of both Lone Ranger and Brace Beemer memorabilia.
Growing up in Oxford, Bossardet was fortunate enough to have known Beemer.
She described him as a tall man with a "big, booming voice" that was "very distinctive" and a "gregarious" personality.
"He was bigger than life and his voice was bigger than life," Bossardet said. "He was always friendly and willing to have his picture taken."
Beemer's kindness to local children is what stands out in Bossardet's mind.
"He always had (toy) silver bullets in his pocket and he'd hand those out to the kids," Bossardet said. "We used go out (to his farm), hang over the fence and feed (his horse) Silver. He was always bringing out carrots for us."
Beemer owned a 300-acre farm on W. Drahner Rd. called Paint Creek Acres.
The museum is open on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 12-4 p.m.
For more information about the museum, please visit www.neohs.net or call (248) 628-8413. Private tours are available.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.