Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Inspiration for the Lone Ranger

Company D of the Texas Rangers, Ysleta, Texas, 1894
I wrote yesterday about the 85th anniversary of The Lone Ranger radio show first airing on WXYZ here in Detroit; how the character captured imaginations and went from being a simple local radio show to being an international icon. I thought, therefore, that I would take a moment to discuss the possible inspiration for this legend: the life and career of Captain John Reynolds Hughes of the Texas Rangers.

In the photo above from 1894, Captain Hughes is seen seated on a stool with a rifle in his hand at the far right. An unknown Mexican prisoner is seen seated at the far left of this photo. The remaining men in this photograph are the Texas Rangers that Captain Hughes led.

Writer Fran Striker and radio producer George W. Trendle never publicly discussed their inspiration for their the Lone Ranger character in great detail. Trendle's obituary in The New York Times stated that he wanted to enliven the Great Depression with a mix of folklore's Robin Hood and pulp fiction's Zorro; the latter of which also rode a horse and wore a black mask.

However, over the years, it has been theorized by some historians and authors that Captain Hughes may have played a significant role in inspiring the character.

Captain Hughes, of course, was a real-life Texas Ranger who brought law and order to plains from August of 1887 until his retirement in 1915. Novelist Zane Grey dedicated his book The Lone Star Ranger to Hughes in 1914. More importantly, Hughes led an investigation into an ambush on a group of Rangers in 1893 that was very similar to the one depicted in the Lone Ranger's origin story.

Hughes also reportedly told relatives that he believed the character of the Lone Ranger was inspired, at least in part, by him.

In 1940, Captain Hughes became the first recipient of the Certificate of Valor. He was also inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. He passed away on June 3, 1947, at the age of 92.

More information about Captain John Reynolds Hughes is available on the official website of the Texas State Cemetary, where he is buried, as well as from the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Lone Ranger debuted 85 years ago in Detroit

Lone Ranger publicity photo from July 30, 1965/Wikimedia
It was 85 years ago that The Lone Ranger rode into the hearts and imaginations of Detroiters on a fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty "Hi-yo Silver!"

The Lone Ranger began as a radio program that first aired on WXYZ in Detroit on either January 30 or 31, 1933. The records aren't clear as to which one of those two days was the first airing of the show. It's also not completely clear whether it was radio station owner George W. Trendle or writer Fran Striker first conceived that masked rider of the plains, according to On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio by John Denning.

The one thing that is abundantly clear is that this legend started right here in Detroit and soon became a global cultural icon. A total of 2,956 episodes The Lone Ranger aired from our local radio waves. Dozens of books, comic strips, and comic books soon followed as well as The Long Ranger Magazine and several animated short films.

All of this culminated in The Lone Ranger television series, which aired on ABC and produced 221 episodes during its five-season run from 1949 until 1957. There were also a series of movies that began with The Lone Ranger (1956) starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels from the television series and continuing on to the 2013 version that starred Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, which was nominated for two different Academy Awards.

It's moment like this that one feels a need to step back and marvel at the legacy that was born here in Detroit and that continues on 85 years later with a global audience.

Hi-yo Silver! Away!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Warrendale Community Organization releases meeting schedule

Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The Warrendale Community Organization recently released their schedule of general membership meeting in 2018. The nonprofit neighborhood association will have their next meeting on Monday, February 5. Additional meetings will happen on:

  • Monday, March 5;
  • Monday, April 2;
  • Monday, May 7;
  • Monday, June 4;
  • Monday, August 6;
  • Tuesday, September 4;
  • Monday, October 1;
  • Monday, November 5; and
  • Monday, December 3.
The organization will not have any general membership meetings in either January or July.

In addition, their December meeting will be their annual holiday pot-luck.

All of these meetings will happen in the Activities Building of Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church (7685 Grandville St.). Anyone who lives in or has an interest in promoting Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood is welcome to attend these meetings.

Wear Pajamas to Work Day

I was reviewing my calendar for 2018 recently. One of the things that I noticed is that April 16 is designated as Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day.

I'm not making this up, Detroit. April 16, 2018 will be Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day.

I don't know who created this holiday nor do I know how it made it onto my calendar. The only thing that I do know is that I absolutely love this idea.

If your personal calendar doesn't already recognize April 16 as Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day then please do add it. I think this will be a lot of fun - so much so that I felt compelled to blog about it here.

Get ready, Detroit! Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day is going to be epic this April.

This post is a part of this blog's semi-regular Friday Focus series, which endeavors to highlight news and opinions that, in my opinion, don't get as much attention as they deserve. Please follow this blog on Facebook for more great content. I'm also on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Fire strikes West Warren Ave

Fire trucks on West Warren Ave. - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The Detroit Fire Department responded to a fire at West Warren Auto Repair (19020 W. Warren Ave), which is between Warwick and Artesian Streets. A total of eight fire trucks, two fire chiefs, and an ambulance were on site.

The Detroit Police Department has W. Warren Ave. shut down to vehicular travel while firefighters finish their work.

The cause of this fire is not known. More information as this situation develops.

Review - The Will to Kill

One of the advantages of the cold snap that hit Detroit last week is that it provided me with an incentive to stay indoors and catch up on all of the books that I've been meaning to read. This included Erle Stanley Gardner's Turn on the Heat, which I reviewed last week, as well as The Will to Kill by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins.

The Will to Kill is one of the last Mike Hammer novels that were left unfinished when Mickey Spillane passed in 2006 at the age of 88. Before he left us, Spillane designated Max Allan Collins as the author that he wanted to finish his projects.

The Will to Kill begins with iconic private detective Mike Hammer taking a midnight stroll along the Hudson River. He pensive moment, though, was interrupted when he discovers a partial corpse on an ice flow.

The body, we soon learn, is that of a butler who spent the last years of his life working for a millionaire - now also deceased - and his notoriously privileged children.

Were both master and servant murdered? Mike Hammer's friend Captain Pat Chambers of the New York City Police Department thinks so. However, to prove it Hammer must travel upstate to investigate the dead man's family, all of whom have a motive for murder.

Like all Mike Hammer mystery novels, there are a number of twists and turns in every chapter - perfect to keep the reader exciting and guessing. More importantly, the story comes across with the same gritty eloquence from Collins' pen that millions of fans came to love from Spillane.

The Will to Kill is a wonderful detective story that is a joy to read. It is currently available in hardcover at finer bookstores and for the Kindle. It will be available as a paperback from Titan Books on February 27. The paperback can be pre-ordered by clicking here.

Please come next week when I will have a review of Help, I am being held prisoner by Donald E. Westlake.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Michigan State Police sets up aggressive enforcement on Southfield Freeway

Michigan State Police patrol car - Photo by Joe Ross/Flickr
The Michigan State Police announced this morning that they will begin a more aggressive enforcement of speeding on the Southfield Freeway effective immediately. Their Special Enforcement Section has been assigned to patrol the freeway.

This action is the result of complaints of excessive speeding along on the Southfield Freeway. The Special Enforcement Section will continue their patrol activity until more motorists observe the posted speed limit carefully.

Motorists are cautioned that there is a posted speed limit of 55 m.p.h. on the freeway. Slow down or get a ticket.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

South Warrendale Radio Patrol reflects on 2017

Warrendale Radio Patrol
Photo by Frank Nemecek
With 2017 now in the history books, the South Warrendale Radio Patrol released a few figures about their year. This group of neighborhood residents volunteered more than 2,000 hours over the past 12 months and drove 6,839 miles patrolling Detroit.

To put those numbers in perspective, the 6,839 miles that the South Warrendale Radio Patrol drove on their patrols is the equivalent of driving from Detroit, Michigan to Beijing, China - with 198 miles left over.

As if that wasn't enough, the group also issued approximately 50 You Make a Difference certificates as well as:

  • 60 Halloween decoration certificates;
  • 60 Christmas Decoration Certificates;
  • A Halloween trophy;
  • Two Christmas trophies;
  • Worked hard doing multiple community cleanups/board ups;
  • Installed 16 new neighborhood watch signs;
  • Posted almost 200 "This house is being watched signs" on vacant houses, and
  • Attended more meetings/media events and gatherings than anyone cares to count.
I am extremely proud of the work that this dedicated group of volunteers for our neighborhood as well as all of Detroit.

Review - Turn On the Heat

They're back.

Erle Stanley Gardner's legendary detectives Cool and Lam are back in bookstores for the first time in 50 years.

If you're not familiar with Erle Stanley Gardner, he was the creator of Perry Mason. When he died in 1970, Erle Stanley Gardner was the bestselling American author of all time.

Turn On the Heat tells the story of private detectives Bertha Cool and Donald Lam who are retained by a mysterious "Mr. Smith" to find a woman who disappeared 21 years earlier. In the course of their investigation, Lam finds himself facing a sadistic cop, a desperate showgirl, a deceptive client, and one very dogged reporter.

As he struggles to learn the truth, Donald Lam finds himself kidnapped, beaten up, and framed for a crime that he didn't commit at different intervals during the story. It's very clear in this story that powerful people don't want this missing woman found.

The action and pacing in this novel were great. I particularly loved the dialogue that Gardner constructed in these pages. It rang authentic for the characters and the time that they were operating in.

One can still occasionally find copies of Turn On the Heat in libraries and used book stores. However, since it's been out of print for decards, those copies are getting harder and harder to find. That's why I'm really glad that Hard Case Crime brought it back for a new printing.

Turn On the Heat by Erle Stanley Gardner is available now on and bookstores everywhere.

Monday, January 01, 2018

10 tips to make 2018 your best year yet

Ready or not, 2018 is here.

Many people think of the start of a new year as a chance to make a variety of improvements in their respective lives. Losing weight or eating more healthy are the most common New Year's resolutions, according to Reader's Digest, with many other people wanting to spend more time with their family, to improve their finances, to become more organized, or to travel more.

Regardless of one's goals for the coming year, Aaron Marino of Alpha M has ten tips on how to make 2018 your best year ever. Aaron's audience is largely male. As a result, he addresses gentlemen specifically in this video. Regardless of that, I believe that his ten tips entitled How to Kick 2018's Ass (10 Tips to CRUSH the New Year) applies equally well to ladies as well as to gentlemen.

I recommend that everyone take a few minutes to watch this video and to think about how one can incorporate Aaron Marino's advice into his or her life. In fact, his words of wisdom in this video are presented as my semi-regular Tip of the Week feature.

Please feel free to leave a comment below if any of his tips for making 2018 your best year yet particularly resonate with you.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our Tip of the Week feature. Please check back next week for more advice on your home, money, and life. Please follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram for more great content.