March 06, 2013 - Growing up, I was a big fan of The Lone Ranger.
On Sunday mornings, I used to watch the old black-and-white reruns of the 1950s television program.
I was fascinated by the idea of this masked man riding around the Old West helping innocent people who needed him and meting out justice to those villains who thought they were beyond the law's reach.
When I first came to Oxford in 1999, I was fascinated to learn that this was the home of Brace Beemer, the gentleman who portrayed the Lone Ranger in public appearances as far back as 1933 and on the radio from 1941-54.
He did more than 2,000 broadcasts as the masked lawman. The show was carried on 129 stations nationwide. Beemer's voice helped inspire more than 80 million listeners, both young and old, to always be honest, decent and just in their dealings with others. That's much more than simple entertainment.
Beemer lived on a 300-acre farm (Paint Creek Acres) on W. Drahner Rd. with his wife, four children and of course, his famous horse Silver.
I liked the idea of working in and covering the Lone Ranger's town. It seemed very fitting.
A big part of the reason I went into journalism was to help people and take on the bad guys, particularly those who hide behind phony good guy images.
Being a fan of the masked man, I was thrilled to learn there's a new Lone Ranger movie premiering July 3. It stars Armie Hammer as the crusading cowboy and Johnny Depp as Tonto, his faithful Indian companion.
I was even more pleased to learn that Oxford resident Rod Charles is working to organize some festivities to help herald the new movie's arrival and celebrate Oxford's connection to this legendary figure.
Charles took it upon himself to secure the domain name homeofthemask.com to help with promotions. He's also approached various local officials about working together to pull off a great event.
Charles is doing all this not because he's looking to profit from it or work some personal angle. He's doing it because he's passionate about Oxford and history in general, as am I.
Beemer's legacy as the Lone Ranger represents the very best of Oxford and we should do whatever we can to pass that on to a new generation of youngsters, many of whom know nothing of the masked man and his adventures.
We also need to educate people about the man behind the mask. For instance, how many folks know that Beemer enlisted in the army at age 14 and fought in World War I? He was awarded the Purple Heart, Victory Medal and an Accolade from President Woodrow Wilson.
We have a golden – or should I say silver – opportunity to do something really good and really fun as a community and we should seize it. Not because it could help generate some sales for local businesses. Not because it could help promote the town and draw visitors. And not because the Lone Ranger is about to become popular again and we want to jump on the bandwagon.
We should seize this opportunity because the Lone Ranger and Brace Beemer belong to Oxford. Not legally, mind you, but historically and yes, spiritually.
There's a little Lone Ranger in all of us whenever we choose to tell the truth, speak out against an injustice and help a friend, neighbor or stranger in need.
Hollywood's in charge of the movie and the Big Wigs will no doubt orchestrate all the usual over-the-top media-hype that goes along with a summer blockbuster.
But only Oxford can retell Beemer's story in a simple, genuine and eloquent way because he was one of us.
Brace Beemer lived here. He died here. And in between, he turned a fictional American hero into flesh and blood. He gave children somebody to look up to and emulate.
We need to remember that and celebrate it.
Anyone who's got any ideas or suggestions as to how to go about that is encouraged to contact Rod Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.