Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Origin of Silver, Part 2

By Martin Grams, Jr.  

Editor's Note: This is part 2 of Martin Grams' wonderful story on how Silver began.
To read part 1 first, click here!

RANGER: Hi Yo, Silver! Awaaayyy!

The second origin story, dismissing the February 6, 1935 broadcast, was dramatized six months later on the evening of August 26, 1935, and would be dramatized again in 1938 and 1952, and an abridged version for a 1951 Decca record sold in stores.

As recounted by the announcer during the August 26 broadcast, “The Lone Ranger did not always ride Silver. Before the fame of the mystery rider spread throughout the length and breadth of seven states, there was another horse. One called Dusty.” With no trademarked silver horseshoes, Dusty was described as a chestnut mare, female, and not from Wild Horse Valley where Silver, his successor, was born and raised. This was also the only broadcast of the series to make reference to Dusty.

Nestled in a valley in the heart of green hills was a sanctuary, where man had never been. Here, the grass grew green and lush, and shady trees spread green boughs to cast soft shade. Here from the living rock came waterfalls sweet and pure. King Sylvan and his gentle mate Moussa ruled the land. Their court was made up of untamed horses that never saw a man, nor knew his inventions. Sylvan won the right to rule his followers by might and courage. He was the fleetest of foot, quickest of eye, and greatest of strength. There came a day when the mare, Moussa, bore King Sylvan a son. Then, the family’s happiness was complete. His fleet hooves pounded the turf, racing, turning, flashing in his joy. 

The great white stallion hoped the little one would see the strength and splendid body that would someday be his. He looked like a drift of virgin snow, with the sun turning every hair into gleaming points of silver fire. Almost as soon as he was born the white one began to display those characteristics which afterwards made him a leader of the band that his father ruled before him. Strong, graceful and fearless, with the heart and courage of a lion, but added to them was the sweetness and gentleness of Moussa, his mother.

For many months the colt grew in size, his colthood left behind him, until he could outdistance Moussa and run side by side with his illustrious father. Like the wind, the white one and Sylvan raced side by side. Two beautiful milk white creatures, King Sylvan and the prince. How the sun flashed from their sleek bodies… how they raced, cut, turned and whirled in sheer joy of life. Then there came tragedy to the life of the little one. The light of the world was covered for Moussa. She went to the everlasting valley of happiness, but not before her little son was full grown and ready to fight for his place in the kingdom of Sylvan. Day after day the brave horse fought his rivals in the field of battle. It was the prince’s duty to fight for and to hold his princely position. It was his duty to meet all comers and accept all challengers. Sylvan remained the King, but could his white offspring remain prince? Battles were furious. No quarter was asked, and none was given. Never did the white colt pause in the attack until his rival lay at his feet. Then there came the last to challenge, who went to defeat as had others before him. The white one lifted his voice in victory.

It was then that man came into the valley with misery and pain and tragedy. Squint and Butch, having robbed an Express Office, make for a valley rumored by Indians as having the finest horses in the West, in an effort to evade the posse en route across the Mexican border. With gun and rope to conquer or kill, the fast stallions were the goal of their craven schemes. The sight of man was a strange one to the wild horses and thundering hooves surged forward. The white prince sounded the battle cry. Thunder roared from weapons in the hands of the men, wild screams of pain came from the pack. But the fury of those hammering hooves could not be withstood. The men retreated, running to save their lives. There was no joy in this victory, however, as King Sylvan sent his soul to join that of Moussa. Sylvan’s strong white neck was cruelly hurt by the rope of the white men. Sylvan was no longer king. In his stead the white one should rule. But to what end? As he stood, the white horse found little left for him in the valley. His was the heart of a conqueror. He would leave the valley to cross that purple ridge in the distance, to see what was beyond. While he stood with proud head lifted high, there came again the form he had so recently learned to hate… man. *

* In the 1935 broadcast, Fred Reto played the role of Butch and Charles Livingtone played the role of Squint. Malcolm McCoy played the role of the horses in Wild Horse Valley.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto, trailing the outlaws, come across the magnificent white stallion. “Did you ever see such a splendid creature?” the masked man asked his friend. Tonto agreed the white beast was finer than old Dusty, who certainly earned her rest. Tonto expressed desire in killing the outlaws after finding the remains of King Sylvan. Walking over the top of the mountain and venturing into vast stretches of level country, the white stallion came across a new foe: wild buffalo. A huge shaggy buffalo, dirty mud color, a tangled mane, and fire breathing nostrils. Its bloodshot eyes glared at the white one in hatred and the sharp-hoofed feet stamped on the ground in rage. From the horrible beast there came a roar and then this monster came to life and dove at the white stallion in a rush that seemed to concentrate the fury of centuries. This was a battle to the death. Hooves churned the ground. Great clouds of dust arose and the reek of blood and sweat filled the air. The great head of the buffalo was like a battering ram as it drove into the white body of the horse time after time. Tumbling and weak, the white one grew unsteady, but his gallant heart knew no defeat so he fought on. With one last gallant effort the king of the horses raised his head to meet the death that was to come. The evil red eyes of the buffalo glowed in savage hate and victorious glee. It was the end of the reign of the white one until there was a thundering approach of hooves, a wild cry of an oncoming rider. “Come on Dusty! Hi-Yo, Dusty!”

The buffalo fell victim to the accurate fire of The Lone Ranger’s six-guns. Then a great peace descended on the white horse as he lay there wounded. The Lone Ranger and Tonto gave the stallion water and nursed his wounds. Then the white horse, trembled on weakened legs, fled. The Lone Ranger and his faithful half-breed Indian friend continued on the trail to Coppers Bend in further pursuit of the outlaws. It was not long before the outlaws discovered they were being hunted. Squint drew his gun and opened fire. The Lone Ranger and Tonto were forced to dive to the ground when a fatal bullet hit Dusty, sending her on to greater pastures. The white stallion, after leaving The Lone Ranger, seemed to feel that he left one that would be a friend, not an enemy to other horses. The Lone Ranger sought to overtake the men and never could a horse have been more welcome. On he thundered, to where the masked man stood. There he paused, docile, willing to be a servant to this man. The Lone Ranger swung to the white’s back, without saddle or bridle, and sought to pursue the bandits. For the first time there came the shout that was later to ring throughout the country… “Hi-Yo, Silver!”

Faster than any horse had ever moved, swift as the wind, a flash of white flame… the great stallion swept across the prairie, his strength seemed greater than ever before. He was inspired by love… a new love of horse for master. On his back a man he would ever serve. A man that brought him life when death was near. The outlaws’ horses could never match this terrific speed. They were overtaken, roped by the quick hand of The Lone Ranger, brought to earth and held until the lawmen could overtake them. Riding off to meet up with Tonto, The Lone Ranger spoke to his new steed: “You understand me, great-hearted horse that you are. Your rare beauty with your heart of gold, and your skin of silver. Silver, that’s the word. Pure silver and you’re mine. For now and forever… mine. Through storm and sunshine, Silver, through good or ill, we will travel together. Tonto is over there, Silver. That’s your name, fellow. Silver. Let’s join Tonto, my friend… our friend. Hi Yo, Silver! Away!”

Continuity was thrown out the door when you recall how The Lone Ranger was already riding Silver in the first radio broadcast of the series and picked up Tonto as a sidekick after a dozen adventures. As noted, this was also the only radio broadcast to make reference to a horse named Dusty, and future retellings avoided the reference. (Remember, Striker’s origins and conceptions evolved over the years.)

Silver was distinguished by other horses in comparison through two other qualities. The strength and speed of the stallion was emphasized numerous times, especially when The Lone Ranger raced to the rescue or had to ride out to fetch a vital component to ensure resolution. On a number of occasions, the masked man would tell his stallion how they would have to break a record of speed and ride like they never had before to ensure success.

The other quality was that only The Lone Ranger was capable of mounting and riding the stallion who was many times described as larger in size than most stallions. A number of supporting characters made reference on the program to having never seen a horse of that size before; others spoke legend of the steed riding the countryside à la will-o’-the-wisp. Few exceptions were demonstrated when the second party rode with The Lone Ranger, demonstrating Silver’s allowance with the masked man’s approval. For the broadcast of July 4, 1933, The Lone Ranger rescues a gal named Sally and sends her back to town, riding on top Silver, to fetch the sheriff and a posse. By August 19, 1933, Tonto was riding together with The Lone Ranger on top of Silver (even though Tonto would utilize his donkeys and cart interchangeably through the months). At the close of February 2, 1934, The Lone Ranger puts two lovebirds on top of Silver and instructs them to release the horse when they are home… knowing Silver will find his way back. On the broadcast of March 8, 1935, Tonto rides Silver into a café, leading a charge of stolen horses inside, wrecking the place to ensure the crooked Boss Proctor would not be in business for a long time. (The Lone Ranger jumps on board to ride off at the end.) For the broadcast of November 4, 1936, sensing danger after a lengthy time, the great horse Silver parted the strands and raced off to find Tonto after the masked man was apprehended, tied and bound. It was Tonto who rode Silver back to the ranch and to rescue. A similar scenario happened more than once. On the broadcast of April 26, 1935, The Lone Ranger is ambushed by Morgan and Dick Flint (a crooked sheriff) as he enters the town of Mustang. They scheme to rob a bank and frame The Lone Ranger for the crime. In the tussle of the capture, Silver manages to escape. As the crooks go to work breaking into the safe, Silver returns with Tonto. On the broadcast of December 2, 1936, when Silver obeyed his master’s command and dashed away from town, toward the distant hills from which The Lone Ranger had come, in search of Tonto.

Other amusements from the early years include Tonto making biscuits over the campfire to feed to Silver on April 23, 1934. “Good biscuit makum Silver strong,” Tonto stated to the masked man, possibly doubling as a cross-promotion for Silvercup bread. On the evening of January 8, 1937, outlaws attempt to place The Lone Ranger under arrest when the masked man takes the blame for the apparent murder, while Silver instinctively flees to fetch Tonto.

The Lone Ranger’s respect and admiration for his horse could be deputized for love and affection, and perhaps more than any man for his horse, demonstrated more than once on the program. The first of two noteworthy examples was on the evening of February 4, 1935. En route to Tombstone, Silver breaks his leg just north of the town of White River, forcing The Lone Ranger and Tonto to camp short of their destination. “I’d a thousand times prefer shooting myself than putting a bullet through Silver,” the masked man remarked. Sheriff Dave Slade of White River arrests Bart Conway for the murder of Mr. Hanford, much to the disappointment of Jessie Hanford, Bart’s sweetheart. The Sheriff orders Bart to shoot the wounded horse and Tonto stands in his way.

TONTO: You shoot’um me first!

SHERIFF: We can do that, too! Drill the hoss, Bart!

RANGER: Hold on! If you draw a gun on that horse, I swear to heaven I’ll kill both of you, and you’ll be the first men I have ever killed!

The Lone Ranger, knowing Bart never had the nerve to shoot and kill a horse that the Sheriff suggested needed to be put under, investigates to learn how Mr. Hanford committed suicide, and arranged his death in such a way that Bart would be accused and hang for murder. Hanford tied a string to a sapling outside the chimney, pulled on the string and shot himself with the death gun… which retracted into and partially up the chimney to prevent the murder weapon from being found.

RANGER: Tonto, we can’t get away from them on foot!

TONTO: We mebbe need killum!

RANGER: That isn’t in our book, Tonto… we can’t kill…

TONTO: Mebbe have to unmask.

RANGER: I… I can’t do that, either.

The Sheriff and his deputies, wanting The Lone Ranger to unmask, surrounded the vigilante and his Indian ally. The Lone Ranger faced a complicated situation until Silver raced to the rescue, fully healed from his sprained leg.

The second narrative was on the broadcast of March 19, 1937, when Silver raced to the rescue to save the masked man. The Beasley Gang rides into Durango and shoots up the town, killing a man in the streets. The gang aims to head into the San Juan Mountains, fearing the masked rider who sought to apprehend them in recent weeks. The Lone Ranger, however, is ambushed and shot, falling into the ravine, leaving the great white stallion at the mercy of the outlaws. The Lone Ranger tells his steed to play dead while he falls into the ravine, hoping the outlaws will pursue the masked man, not the horse. But his efforts were in vain. The outlaws quickly discover the stallion was not dead and attempt to apprehend the beast. The gallant stallion fought like one possessed of super strength and fury. The long legs lashed out again and again, and the silver shod hooves brought down a second man. A rope thrown over the powerful white neck was jerked from the hands of the man who held it, and Silver bared his teeth as he fought against the fiends who’d shot his master. Finally, Butch was forced to let go of the reins he held, and then every ounce of the great strength of Silver was put into one frantic leap. The horse broke free and ran off. For a long time, the Beasley Gang followed Silver up the dangerous rocky trail through the San Juan Mountains. Silver kept a good distance ahead of them and looked back from time to time to see that they were still following. The gallant stallion seemed to know what was in their minds. Though he felt in his horse mind that his place was back at the side of The Lone Ranger who had fallen into the ravine, he kept on, dodging and evading and keeping away from the outlaws.

The sheriff’s posse, meanwhile, had done its best to trail the Beasley gang, but had finally been forced to give up the search and return to Durango. They were a tired, travel-worn group of men, seeking vengeance for old Jake, their friend who had been shot and killed in the streets of Durango. Silver walked into town, past the sheriff’s office, where a horse with no rider did not go unnoticed. Despite his struggles, Silver was roped in a stable for the night. In his mind, he did not know that morning would be too late for help to reach his master, he only knew that he was tied and helpless while the masked man whom he loved was suffering and in grim peril. He struggled against the hard rope. He tugged until the rope bit into the flesh of his neck, then he squirmed and wriggled, and his proud head shook in fury at the confining lashes, but the rope held firm. Then Silver tried another means of escape. He turned until the rope was slack and then he gripped it in his teeth and chewed. With the rope weakened, he tugged again, disregarding the pain, and finally the strong rope parted. Silver gave a whinny of defiance and charged through the door of the stable. The sheriff and deputy were outside when they saw the horse race toward them. Observing the horse shod with Silver, the sheriff rallied his men back into saddle. Following Silver like a bloodhound chasing a fox, the Sheriff and his men take off for the San Juan Mountains, with Tonto joining the posse.

The Lone Ranger was painfully wounded, and badly bruised at the bottom of the ravine. Throughout the night he lay there with no thought of himself. His only interest was in the safe escape of his great horse Silver. Dawn brought a gray light into the ravine and he looked through the slits of his mask at hard-faced men who climbed through the underbrush to reach him. Beasley was anxious to see the face behind the mask. With guns in hand, feebly the masked man ordered them to stand away. He shoots the gun out of the hands of one gang member, then threatens: “I have still some bullets in these guns. Though I’ve never shot to kill… I’ll do so now! You’ve killed Silver! The next shot won’t be for your hand! I’ve one thing to tell you men! Your kind has never gone uncaptured for very long. The hangman’s rope will get you in the end.” Butch sneaks from behind to disarm the masked man but before the vigilante can be unmasked, the Sheriff and his posse arrive. A member of the posse shoots and wounds Beasley while down into the steep ravine the great horse Silver charged. He led the way for Tonto, the Sheriff and the posse. Into the midst of the outlaws he lashed with hard shod hooves and struck down the leader, Beasley! The lawman closed in and the fight was short and hard, but the outlaws had no chance. They were roped and disarmed and then Tonto helped the masked man to a sitting posture. The law takes the gang members back to town, leaving The Lone Ranger in good hands to heal from his wounds.

About the Author

Martin Grams Jr. is the author and co-author of more than 40 books including one about THE GREEN HORNET, and is co-author of the up-coming THE LONE RANGER: THE EARLY YEARS, 1933-1937.

Please review Martin's author page: click here!

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