June 12, 2013 - Long before television was able to show audiences exactly what characters and settings looked like, those seeking entertainment had to rely on their imaginations.
Neurons fired and mental images were created as folks gathered around radios and listened to popular shows like "The Shadow," "The Green Hornet" and of course, "The Lone Ranger."
The magic of radio's golden years is coming to downtown Oxford's Centennial Park on Thursday, July 4 from 7-9 p.m. as community members of all ages will perform a live rendition of a classic Lone Ranger radio episode entitled, "The Return of Butch Cavendish."
"I just thought it would be kind of fun," said organizer Catherine Willoughby, an Oxford resident, teacher and member of the Lone Ranger committee. "We thought it would be a neat way to (show) the community what it was like to produce a radio show."
The performance is designed to be a tribute to Oxford's most famous resident, Brace Beemer, who portrayed the Lone Ranger on the radio from April 1941 through the show's end in September 1954. He lived in Oxford Township for many years on a 300-acre farm called Paint Creek Acres on W. Drahner Rd.
Beemer, who died in 1965, lent his booming, manly voice to the masked man in more than 2,000 episodes that reached more than 80 million listeners across 129 radio stations nationwide. The show aired three times a week.
The episode to be performed in Centennial Park originally aired on Jan. 30, 1953, the 20th anniversary of the show's debut on WXYZ in Detroit.
The story revolves around the Lone Ranger once again facing his arch-nemesis, the dastardly villain Bartholomew "Butch" Cavendish. It was Cavendish who led the band of bloodthirsty outlaws that massacred a posse of Texas rangers.
Only one survived, Ranger Reid, who, with the aid of his Indian partner, Tonto, would become the legendary Lone Ranger, a champion of law, order and justice in the Old West.
Willoughby picked this episode because it provides the audience with some background on the Lone Ranger's origin and some historical perspective regarding the radio show.
"If they don't know anything about the Lone Ranger, it gives them a good taste of it," she said.
Willoughby is seeking volunteers to play 14 different parts in the July 4 performance.
No previous acting experience is required as this event is just about having fun and showing community spirit.
Folks interested in playing a part can reach Willoughby via e-mail at Catherine.Willoughby@oxfordschools.org.
People who wish to read the script ahead of time can do so on-line by visiting www.bozolisand.com/loneranger20th.doc.
Audience members will be invited to participate by creating a variety of sound effects including thundering hoof beats, footsteps, horse movements and a number of vocal sounds.
A group of Oxford Middle School sixth-grade orchestra students will set the mood by playing the Lone Ranger's theme song, better known as the William Tell Overture.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Lone Ranger radio show's debut.
Most sources indicate there were a total of 2,956 radio shows, however, some argue the number of live broadcasts was actually 3,377.
One thing's for sure, Beemer was the longest running voice of the Lone Ranger and helped make the character a household name for generations to come.
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.