Warning: Senior Citizen Nostalgia Alert!
THIS MORNING – I WOKE UP – GOOD NEWS THAT. I flipped on the television – it worked. Then I tuned to catch my daily dose of The Lone Ranger and/or Roy Rogers – uh, oh, Snafu in progress.
Where were they, Kemo Sabe?
I had begun to count on those two old cowboy “shoot ‘em ups” to drag me into the day. Now they weren’t there. In their place was some coverage of a rodeo. God bless ‘em, but I don’t care about rodeos. I want the shaky fiction of Roy and Dale or that Masked Man dressed in Powder Blue
You know – the Real West.
For me the Real West is the west of those ham-fisted morality plays where the bad guys all wore black hats and the heroes never got dirty even after a 90 second, roll around in the dust, fist fight with the villain.
My Real West dates from about 1950 when the shows from Radio and the “B” Movies were making the transition to the 12” Philcos. I never questioned the innate stupidity and horrible writing of these shows. I was just a little kid and they were more entertaining than “Meet the Press.” Actually, they still are.
When I was 6 to 9 years of age I never questioned that The Lone Ranger was nothing more than an independently wealthy vigilante who dressed very gay and had Tonto around to do all the dirty work. Today there would be dueling picket lines outside of the production sites.
“Equal Rights for Tonto!”
“Kiss My Kemo Sabe!”
That would have taken all of the high drama out of it for me at that age.
Roy and Dale always rode their horses, but their comic relief sidekick (Obligatory casting) drove around in a Post-War Jeep. Even as a mere kid I found this to be confusing. Was this show set in the Old West or in the wilds of Ventura County? They are all living in this frontier looking little town where everyone goes around wearing gunbelts and six-shooters – then here comes this doofus driving a Jeep. In all those 30 minute episodes I never saw a gas station anywhere. Where was this Jeep filling up?
Details like that bothered me then and they still do. That is why my true pre-adolescent fandom was saved for “Hopalong Cassidy.”
Hopalong was a straight adaptation from the realm of the Saturday Movie Serials and 67 minute Feature Films.
“Hopalong’ – which I always felt was a weak sounding and rather disrespectful nickname, was played by an actor named William Boyd. He did the lead in the movie versions of this character and, seeing the future through the tumbleweed, bought up all of the TV rights. He was one smart cowboy.
Contrary to Roy and The Lone Ranger, Hopalong was getting up in years when his TV run began so he had to be more clever and use a stunt double when things got rough. He also dressed in all black to provide a little counterpoint to his gray hair. He wore black because everyone knows that black can be slimming. Hopalong also had the obligatory sidekick (It must have been a labor union thing.), but his second banana was even older. “California” always looked like he had spent the previous decade at the bottom of a bottle and slept every night by a Freeway underpass.
Despite their popularity I never whined at my parents to buy me a Lone Ranger mask or Roy Rogers gunbelt. No, I got myself a gen-u-ine Hopalong Cassidy holster and plastic cap gun pistol. Dress me all in black and I could have passed for Hopalong’s strange looking Garden Gnome.
See what happens when my morning TV viewing habit gets screwed with? I love a little gunplay in the morning. It smells like breakfast.