Clayton Moore. To live in hearts you left behind is not to die…
Back in May, 1979, I worked with Clayton Moore and a host of hombres on an ABC-TV special, “When the West Was Fun”. Long hours, short pay—hurry up and wait—just like real cowboys. Our setting was a fancy western saloon. Clayton and I spent most of the show ensconced on a winding stairway. Where did it lead? To paradise, a dancing girl told me. Clayton was an affable gent. The hours passed quickly in his company. He was a good talker and a good listener. When you looked beyond his mask and into his eyes you saw the truth. When I was a wee lad I fell under the spell of the Lone Ranger, and Clayton Moore did nothing to dispel it. The masked man’s spirit kept me from growing up too fast. (Amen to that, says my wife Babs.) Kept me from getting jaded and cynical. I still believe, like millions of kids I knew, that if I followed the Lone Ranger and Tonto I’d always be on the right trail. Well after midnight the A.D. finally hollered, “That’s a wrap!”
Bleary-eyed adioses all around. I staggered to my orange VW beetle, Julius—wouldn’t start—Ach! Broken fan belt… Later, a sporty fellow in a blue checkered suit and cap chanced by. “May I help?” he warmly asked. “Thanks, pard, but I just called Triple A.” Off he went into the darkness with a reassuring smile. Who was that unmasked man? Could it have been the Lone Ranger in mufti? He didn’t look like the Lone Ranger. Didn’t have his hero’s bearing. Didn’t have his deep, stereophonic voice. I reckoned he was Clayton Moore after a job o’ work.
Clayton, if we ever meet again I know you’ll be up on Silver, in full regalia, Tonto by your side—no wrap-around glasses. I raise a flagon of sarsaparilla (with a dash o’ cherry) in your honor. Ti-ye, Kemo Sabe!…By gad, sir, you are the Lone Ranger!