A Lone Ranger
premium card sold in penny arcades.

The card was marked "copyright 1941." Here's the back:

Political Alert!   Note the bold "Greetings Comrade!" at the very top of the card. Ten years later the House Un-American Activities Commitee would have hauled the entire WBT staff to Washington for hearings. Crutch and the Briarhoppers might have been blacklisted.

None of the early radio actors who played the Ranger, including Brace Beemer, above, presented as romantic a figure in person as he sounded on the air.

Hi yo, Silver, awaaay!

The Lone Ranger was always a hit in the Scancarelli household. Jim's 14-year old uncle, Bob Parati, wrote to WBT for a free picture of the Lone Ranger and the current "secret message." As some of you may remember, the masked man had a Safety Club, whose rules and regulations, closely akin to the Code of the West, dealt with issues like holding your mother's hand on busy streets; refraining from playing with matches; and being careful when handling BB guns (you'll shoot your eye out).

Here's a blowup of the secret code shown just below the great horse Silver's left front hoof:

Go ahead, give it a try. Jim's mother Frances was adept at cryptography and quickly broke the code. She whipped out the startling message in no time. This is what it said:

We wonder if, like Ralphie in the movie A Christmas Story, she screamed, "A lousy commercial!"

If you're totally in the dark about the Lone Ranger's huuuuuge impact on early radio and on our popular culture, go here for a brief history.

Legend has it that Charlie Crutchfield once asked a kid in an interview why he liked The Briarhoppers show. The kid replied, "Because, when it's over The Lone Ranger comes on."

Artifacts from Jim Scancarelli's vast collection