July 31, 2013 - Editor's Note: On March 4, 1965, The Oxford Leader published Brace Beemer's very last interview. It was conducted on February 20, by then-Publisher James A. Sherman, Sr. and former reporter C.J. Cleveland. Beemer died suddenly on March 1. Part 2 will be published next week. Enjoy.
By C.J. Cleveland
"I feel fortunate to be a legend in my own lifetime. There are few who can enjoy this privilege." – Brace Beemer, Oxford; Michigan.
There was a time when Brace Beemer and the managers of, the Lone Ranger program would have been pleased to have ten lines printed about them in a newspaper.. Today, his voice still has its magnetic quality in the one-minute commercials that he is doing for the Detroit area Chrysler and Imperial dealers, and feature writers, TV personalities, and radio figures are constantly seeking interviews.
Doing commercials is not something that Brace has been quick to accept. He says that he has had many offers from various producers but, "I would never accept anything that would in any way detract from the Lone Ranger image."
Maintaining the image of the Lone Ranger has spanned more than half of Brace's life. He is careful not to take personal advantage of this legend of the "Robin Hood of the West." Although Brace was not the first to play the Lone Ranger on radio, he was the first to make public appearances dressed in the guise of the fictional hero.
Brace's relatives were all professional people, and with a wry grin he confesses to be the black sheep of his family. Starting when he was in the ninth grade he found it hard to accept a teacher who he says lectured continually on the merits of Kaiser Wilhelm II's Germany.
One day Brace could no longer tolerate what this teacher was saying. He stood up and said, "You shouldn't talk about the United States that way." Apparently a few blows followed and after Brace's father had a talk with the school principal it was decided that there was nothing that the school could do with him. At the age of 14 he enlisted in the 150th Field Artillery and was attached to Colonel Douglas MacArthur's Rainbow Division of the American Expeditionary Force.
There was another man who also joined the army because of the same school incident and when the two of them found themselves in France near the front lines his friend said that he was going back home. "Not me," replied Brace,
"This is why I came over here. To fight." Brace remained as the youngest American to fight during the war.
He was wounded three times . . He was gassed, machine gunned . , He still carries some schrapnel in his legs. Later his discharge papers had to be corrected, because it is against the law for a child to be taken out of the country and used for military service. When Brace got back to his small southern Indiana home he chanced to meet his friend who had left him in Europe.
Still dressed in his uniform, he went into the pool hall and found his friend leaning over a pool table, squinting down the cue stick getting ready to make a shot. Looking up from his aim, he saw Brace standing there. Without expression he said to Brace, "Well, I see ya' made it," and then made his shot without saying anything further.
He remembers in 1922 his dad brought home a radio set. As Brace describes it, "It was one of those fourteen dial affairs, you know . . ." and with arm gestures, Brace places the dials as running all over the front of the set. "It was then," he said, "I told my dad that I was going to go to work in radio.
"I was a pretty fair singer and I used to have a daily show where I sang a few songs. One day, for some reason, the announcer didn't show up. What else could 1 do? I picked up the commercial and read it. Later the guy who had bought the time came into the station and asked who had read the commercial."
When the station manager said that it was Brace and they were sorry that the regular announcer couldn't make it in that day, Brace was given the full time job of program announcer, and he was on his way in Radio.
The famous Sergeant York was Brace's guest of honor in Indianapolis when Brace gave what he thinks was the first live broadcast of the 500-mile race.
Later he had a show on which he read poetry. As a result, Mr. Campbell, now of Pontiac's WPON, had listened to Brace's show and asked him to come up to his hotel room. At that time Campbell was with one of the networks, and he brought Brace to Detroit. Brace received many offers to do bigger shows, but he felt that he still needed more training.
In 1933 George W. Trendle, Sr., former owner of WXYZ, had an idea for the Lone Ranger and called in Fran Striker to write the scripts. After a few trial scripts, they knew that they had something. Brace started as an announcer for the show while a man by the name of Deeds was the first to play the role. Deeds was followed by Seaton and finally Earl Graser. When Graser was killed, Brace took over and helped develop the legend of the Lone Ranger.
The show was so popular, that according to Brace, one time the New York Times took a survey of the listening audience and found that there were over 80 million people in the United States who listened to it. 80 percent of these listeners were adults.