I was two-years old when the popular television series The Lone Ranger went off the air. Obviously, I don’t remember watching the original episodes, but I grew up watching reruns. Long before most of us were wearing a mask, the Lone Ranger sported one. Of course, his mask did not cover his mouth to protect himself and others from a virus, but covered his eyes in order to conceal his identity. He had been the sole survivor of a group of ambushed Texas Rangers; therefore, he was the “Lone Ranger.” He was nursed back to health by Tonto, his American-Indian companion. Together, they rode their horses across the early American West, assisting helpless victims of evildoers.
I grew up long before the computer age. As children, we played with dangerous things such as toy trucks/cars and cap guns. I often strutted across my yard with a pair of Roy Rogers’ toy holsters and cap pistols strapped around my waist. I usually tied the ends of my holsters to my legs with a string. Sometimes I tried to ride Sport, my thoroughbred-hybrid dog. Sport didn’t seem to mind too badly, but he wouldn’t stay tied to a hitching post. As children, my dear friend Ronald and I often pretended to be any number of western duos. These included Matt Dillion and Chester or Festus, or Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. Sometimes we got a little on the wild side and played Frank and Jessie James. Did you know that Jessie James teamed up with Billy the Kid? He did, right there in my back yard. Since my name was Billy, and I was a kid, you can easily guess which character I played. The Lone Ranger and Tonto were always two of our favorites. Naturally, we both wanted to play to part of The Lone Ranger, so we took turns. We even had a mask (homemade, of course). When Sport wouldn’t cooperate, we rode air horses or an old broom or mop immersed in lots of boyhood imagination. I don’t think we fed our horses a proper diet, because they were as thin as a, well, a broom stick. Of course, whenever we had defeated an imaginary enemy, we jumped on our horses and whichever of us pretended to be The Lone Ranger, or Kemo Sabe as Tonto called him, yelled, “Hi-Ho Silver, and away!” If we ever had a third friend playing with us, which was rare, his job was to ask, “Who was that masked man?” That could easily be the question of the day, these days.
When we were kids, wearing a mask and pretending to be Kemo Sabe was fun. Maybe these days, we should act more like the kids we once were than the “mature” adults we have become. Right? I have to be honest and say I don’t find wearing a mask to be as much fun these days. I do; however, consider wearing one in public a responsibility to those I am around, as well as to myself. I know, I know, they aren’t comfortable. They are hot. I can’t decide whether to shave off my goatee or keep it since no one can see it anyway now. I have seen some mask that looked like they would be fun to wear. One even looked like a goatee, one with lips painted on it, and even one that looked like a dog’s nose. How about if we had matching mask and shirt or tie? I don’t know about you, but honestly, I probably look better with a mask on anyway. I’ve got my mask on, my chin up and my knees down. We will get through this.
— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.