HI-YO SILVER AWAY

HI-YO SILVER AWAY

There are times when you walk into history. There are times when history walks into you. Then there are times when you fall face first into history and history comes crashing down on top of you. Today was such a day for me. As I pulled myself out from under the weight of the history that fell on me I knew I would need to share the moment with you dear reader.

My wife Raychel and I decided to spend the day doing some random shopping in Lawrence. If you want to do random shopping Lawrence, Kansas is about as random as it gets, especially on Massachusetts Street. Downtown Lawrence is peppered with a wide range of random shops selling an eclectic mix of random items.

The eateries on Massachusetts Street are just as random. If you cannot find something to your taste in downtown Lawrence then you weren’t really hungry to begin with. Raychel and I were hungry and something to our taste was The Mad Greek.

I am not ashamed to admit that The Mad Greek is our favorite eatery in Lawrence. I am also not ashamed to admit that we happily devoured Gyros and Chicken Provolone washed down with ice cold beer.

We sat, talked and enjoyed each other’s company as we let our feast settle. Then we found our way across the street to The Toy Store. As we walked through the doors our inner child found its way out of our psyche. I threatened to buy Kazoos and start my own Kazoo blues band. Raychel bought a whirly gig throw off to occupy her very active mind.

We left The Toy Store and headed down the street to Love Garden. No it is not another restaurant. If you guessed that it is a floral shop you would be wrong. No it is not a bordello and it is not a Hippy Head Shop. However if you said music store full of vintage vinyl record albums then you would be correct. It was in this magical place that History jumped on me and beat me to the floor.

I browsed the thousands of albums not 100% sure what I was looking for. I have been trying to replace albums I sold or gave away a long time ago. I also keep my eyes open for albums my mother once had. I grew up listening to her albums so for me it is a matter of nostalgia. I also am a sucker for strange and unusual albums.

I found two Uriah Heep albums; Magicians Birthday and Wonderland. Uriah Heep is one of my favorite groups and if I would have left after finding those albums it still would have been a good find and a good day. But my day was about to get even better.

As Raychel held the Uriah Heep albums I flipped through the one dollar bin. Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Ventures and Henry Mancini all made it onto the stack in Raychel’s hands. I got excited when I found the Fabulous Thunderbirds and the soundtrack album to the movie The Great Escape. Then it happened, I took the first step into the attack on my person by history.

As I flipped through the one dollar rack my hand fell on a four album set. On the front of the box were two familiar figures; Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. Emblazoned across the top of the box were those magical, heroic words, “The Lone Ranger”.  My mind instantly took a trip back to those golden days of yesteryear.

The year was 1989 and I was driving a big truck over the road coast to coast. I pulled into a truck stop near the Arkansas/Oklahoma border on the Arkansas side. I pulled into a space next to a big silver Peterbilt Truck.

As I walked around the nose of the truck a movement caught my eye. There, clinging to the truck’s grill was a tiny brown bat. Horrified, I started looking for a stick to remove the little bat from the grill. While looking for a stick a man walked up and asked me what I was doing. I showed him the bat and said I was looking for a stick to remove it so it wouldn’t be injured.

The man pulled a pen from his pocket and carefully removed the bat. He carried the bat over to a nearby tree where the bat quickly transferred itself from the pen to the tree. The man said he was glad I had seen the bat as it was his truck and he would not want to pull out and hurt the little guy. I agreed. I told the man how I had once been a Zookeeper and how I had an affinity for animals, especially Bats.

As we stood there talking I could not shake the feeling that I knew this man. I finally asked, “Do I know you? Have we met before?” The man laughed, “In a way we probably have met.” His voice was familiar and mysterious.. “What do you mean, in a way?” The man laughed again and said, “Hold on this may help.”

The man opened the door of his big silver truck and reached inside. When he turned back around he was wearing a large pair of black Foster Grant sunglasses and a white cowboy hat. I looked at him, silver truck, white cowbo… “Dear God, you are Clayton Moore! The Lone Ranger!” He laughed, “So I guess you do know me.”

Mr. Moore offered to buy me a cup of coffee and I took him up on it. As we drank coffee and ate pie he told me how he had come to drive a big rig.

He said that he had signed a contract that had made it so that he could never make a public appearance without the mask. “It killed my film career but I receive a very nice pension and get paid for personal appearances; those are not as numerous as they once were.” 

Mr. Moore told me that the ranch where the series had been filmed had been given to him as part of the deal. He was bitter about the lawsuit that had forced him to remove his mask. “I am grateful that Foster Grant made it possible for me, in a way, to keep the mask. I am glad that awful movie failed.”

I asked him why he was driving a truck. His answer was simple and straight to the point; “I get bored. I have everything I want but having everything comes with a price. Before I was a successful actor I made ends meet by driving a truck. Seemed a logical way to ease my occasional boredom.”

All too soon it was time for us to go our separate ways. I headed for the eastern horizon while he drove his mighty truck into the western sunset. Who was that sunglassed man? Pretty sure I know and he left me with a silver memory.

Bringing myself back into the present I placed the Lone Ranger box set on top of the other albums in Raychels arms.

When we returned home to Topeka I immediately started checking the albums. Repairs to covers and checking for any scratches that might have to be dealt with. I saved my treasure, The Lone Ranger box set, for last. I opened the box and pulled the first album from its sleeve; perfect condition. I set it to one side and picked up the second album. It was at this point that the history I had taken a step into when I found the cherished set tripped me and fell on me with the force of a fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi-Yo Silver’.

Resting on top of the 3rd album was a greeting card size envelope. The postmark on the Twentynine cent stamp showed 12 December 1994. The envelope was addressed to Wayne Glenn at KTXR in Springfield, Missouri. The return address showed the card had come from Fred W. Foy in Reading, Massachusetts. 

Inside the envelope was a homemade Christmas card. The front had a deep green design of a stylistically drawn Christmas tree. Inside the tree were a pair of cowboy boots and intertwined in the boots were FWF in a Saloon font. Above the design was written ‘Merry Christmas’ in the same Saloon font.

The inside of the card featured a red horseshoe design. Above the horseshoe was written in the familiar Saloon font ‘…And A Hearty…’. Inside the top of the horseshoe the Saloon font proclaimed, ‘Happy New Year’. Between the two legs of the horseshoe was the name, ‘Fred Foy’. Opposite from the greeting was a date stamp, ‘Received Dec. 15, 1994 KTXR’.

The card felt like something important. I sent up an entreaty to the Google Search God and its Keeper of Fates the Mighty Wikipedia answered my call.

Wayne Glenn is known as the “Old Record Collector”. He had a weekly show on KTXR in Springfield, Missouri from 1977 to his semi-retirement in 2019. Mr. Glenn has more than 15,000 albums. He had 2,139 episodes of his “Remember When” radio program. The show ran for 7 hours on Saturday mornings and 3 hours on Sunday evening. On August 10, 2019 he scaled back to a one hour show on KTXR. 

Wayne Glenn has written 13 books on Ozark history. With 42 years as a radio show host and accomplished author Wayne Glenn has a lot to be proud of and has made his mark on broadcast history.. 

Fred W. Foy had felt that Mr. Glenn was worthy of receiving a Christmas Card and I needed to know who Fred W. Foy was. What I found was way beyond anything I could have ever expected or imagined.

Frederick William Foy (March 27, 1921 – December 22, 2010) was an American radio and television announcer and actor, who used Fred Foy as his professional name. Radio historian Jim Harmon described Foy as “the announcer, perhaps the greatest announcer-narrator in the history of radio drama.”

Fred Foy was a Corporal during World War II and did World Series play by plays for the GI’s. He was an accomplished radio announcer and pitchman doing narrations for shows such as The Green Hornet and Challenge of the Yukon. In 1948 he first uttered the words that would become the most recognized opening in radio and television history:

“Hi-Yo, Silver! A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty “Hi-Yo Silver”… The Lone Ranger! With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early Western United States. Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. From out of the past come the thundering hoof-beats of the great horse Silver. The Lone Ranger rides again!”

And there I sat, holding a Christmas card in my hand sent to one of greatest record collectors in America, Wayne Glenn, from one of the greatest radio and television narrators and announcers in American History, Fred Foy.

How this box set of the greatest hits of “The Lone Ranger” radio program, that had apparently belonged to Wayne Glenn at one time, ended up in a $1.00 bin in a Lawrence, Kansas bookstore is anyone’s guess. How the Christmas card from Fred Foy found it’s way tucked neatly between two albums in the box set is also anyone’s guess. What isn’t anyone’s guess is that this Historic piece of American Radio and Television History now rests in the hands of someone who will protect and preserve it.

Yes history fell on top of me and this was an important tale to be told. With that thought in mind I would like to leave you with this seldom heard song that played on The Lone Ranger syndicated television series in the 1970’s. It was heard just before the Fred Foy opening was played and featured edited scenes from the color pilot episode of The Lone Ranger from 1955 which retold the Masked Man of The Plains origin story:

“Six Texas Rangers (Hi-yo, hi-yo) rode in the sun (Hi-yo, hi-yo);

Six men of justice rode into an ambush, and all were killed but one.

One lone survivor (Hi-yo, hi-yo) lay on the trail (Hi-yo, hi-yo);

Found there by Tonto, the brave Indian Tonto, he lived to tell the tale.

(Hi-yo Silver, Hi-yo Silver away! Hi-yo Silver, Hi-yo Silver away!)

His wounds quickly mended (Hi-yo, hi-yo) and there in the night (Hi-yo, hi-yo),

Six graves were put there to hide from the outlaws that one man lived to fight.

He chose silver bullets (Hi-yo, hi-yo) the sign of his name (Hi-yo, hi-yo); A mask to disguise him, a great silver stallion, and thus began his fame.

(Hi-yo Silver, Hi-yo Silver away! Hi-yo Silver, Hi-yo Silver away! THE LONE RANGER IS HIS NAME!) 

-The GYPSY-

THE MIGHTY WURLITZER

Growing up in the 1960’s was amazing for a child, especially me. As the 1960’s was ushered in I was 3 years old. By the time 1969 gave way to 1970 I was an oversize 13-year-old on the verge of manhood with more testosterone than sense. But oh, those years in between.
I have so many stories of my childhood in the 1960’s that I could write everyday between now and when I take my final breath that I could never get to all of them. Today however I have time to share with you my tale of several Christmas’ where The Mighty Wurlitzer was the star of the season.
I always looked forward to Christmas time. From Thanksgiving Day until New Years Day my life was filled with wonderful surprises and amazing experiences. Several of those experiences took place at Pelletier’s Department Store in downtown Topeka, Kansas.
I spent a lot of time at Pelletier’s growing up. My Mother was Manager of the Toy Department. My Grandmother was Manager of the Children’s Department and the stores lead buyer. I could be found several times a week in the store but never quite as much as during the Holiday Season where I could be found in the Toy Department every day.
Coming in from the cold December air and into the warmth of the main floor of Pelletier’s my senses were always assailed by the sights, smell and sound of the season. Christmas lights and decorations from floor to ceiling. Chocolate cooking and candy being made behind the candy counter. The sound of The Mighty Wurlitzer filling the air with every Christmas Carol and Song known to man.
The Mighty Wurlitzer was an Organ but not just any Organ it was “The Organ”! The Mighty Wurlitzer was a pipe organ manufactured by the Rudolph Wurlitzer company from 1914 to 1943. These pipe organs were mostly used in theatres, churches, homes and other venues. One of these other venues was Pelletier’s Department Store. The Mighty Wurlitzer sat on the north end of the mezzanine and the Organist commanded the beautiful white and gold giant to bring forth tunes that reached down into every fiber of your being.
I have always loved organ music. I do not know what it is, but it touches something deep in my soul, I can feel every melodic note course through my body. I can hear each instrument that it imitates. The vibrations of its percussion thrill my heart. The music of the organ lifts my spirit and reminds me that the world is truly a beautiful place. You just need to stop for a minute and breath it in to be reminded of its beauty. The music from an organ will let you do just that; see the world as a beautiful place.
Christmas music played on an organ brings back memories of Christmas past. It stirs the air and produces visions of what Christmas is and what it promises to be. No organ never played Christmas Music fuller or more fulfilling than The Mighty Wurlitzer.
My child’s mind would fantasize about stepping up to The Mighty Wurlitzer, sitting down and playing music that would make Angels weep with joy. But alas, God had other plans for me. My hands manipulate, pencils, paint brushes and tattoo machine, not keyboards.
Memories of the Heavenly Christmas Music of The Mighty Wurlitzer at Pelletier’s Department Store have always stayed within my heart and soul. To this day I hear organ music and I smile as my spirit is once more lifted.
Imagine then my surprise when, while driving to the tattoo studio one December morning, I spied an organ sitting in front of a secondhand store. I asked my wife, “Did you see that?” She said she did and we both wondered why it was sitting outside like that. We finally concluded that they had probably just gotten it in and just had not moved it inside yet. That was until it was in the same spot the next day and the day after and the day after that.
This started causing me some concern. Several years previously my sister had left my mothers upright piano out on her patio and the weather had destroyed it. The tragedy was compounded by the fact that the piano had come from the Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City, Kansas. It was a loss that always haunted me. Now I had visions of this organ sitting out in the weather and being destroyed.
Now some may ask, “What is it to you if the organ get’s ruined, it isn’t yours.” That is true it is not mine but the music that it can produce belongs to everyone including me. A musical instrument is a work of art that creates art. As an Artist I cannot bear the thought of art lost. So, I went by the secondhand store to ask if the organ was for sale.
There was a sign in the window of the store indicating that the store is closed on Tuesdays and as luck would have it this was Tuesday. Next to the disheartening sign was another sign that invited the viewer to, “Visit Us On Facebook” so I did.
I found the secondhand stores Facebook Page and sent a message: “Is the organ in front of your store for sale?” A couple of minutes later they messaged back: “Its Free”. I immediately message back: “I’ll pick it up shortly.” Their response was: “Ok Cool. Thank You!!!” My response: “No Thank You.”
I was at God’s Storehouse, another secondhand store, dropping off a donation when I got the message. I rushed home, hooked up my utility trailer, grabbed a furniture dolly and headed over to the secondhand store.
I pulled up in front and got out to take my first good look at the organ. The bottom was wrapped in plastic wrap but that would do little to keep out bad weather. We had a light rain a few days before and I was concerned with the condition of the organ, but my initial inspection found no damage.
I tested the weight of it. It was heavy but nothing that I did not feel like I could not handle. I worked in a furniture warehouse when I was younger and worked at an appliance store years later. Though I am 64 years old I am in good physical shape and extraordinarily strong. Moving heavy objects has never been a problem for me and I was prepared to tackle this one.
There were 3 concrete stairs going up to the porch the organ sat on. I positioned the trailer so that I could drop the gate on the second stair. I maneuvered the organ into a position where I could get the dolly under the back. I strapped the dolly to the organ, leaned back and slowly lowered the organ off the top step, onto the tailgate and into the trailer. I strapped everything down and headed home.
After I got the trailer unhitched from the car I went inside and hooked up an extension cord to run out to the trailer and plugged in the organ.
The organ is a 1978 Baldwin Fanfare Deluxe #2167. It was sold for $5,350.00 in Flagstaff, Arizona by the Douseman Music Company on 20 September 1979.
I turned on the organ and hit a key. My heart soared, it worked. I unplugged it and got it covered with a heavy-duty tarp. Our home is small, and some rearrangement will have to be done to get it inside. But until that happens it is safe and secure on my utility trailer.
I did some research online and discovered that in 1971 the Baldwin Company purchased Wurlitzer. I also discovered that for whatever reason people practically give these organs away. I must wonder why. Is the art of organ playing a thing of the past? Do people do not want to take the time to learn this instrument? Is the video game, social media or regurgitated television more important than beautiful music? I do not know the answer. What I do know is we now have a Mighty Wurlitzer. It may say Baldwin on the label, but it is our Mighty Wurlitzer just the same. I now have a desire to step up to The Mighty Wurlitzer, sit down and play music that would make Angels weep with joy.
Yes, The Mighty Wurlitzer during the Holiday Season was a big part of my childhood and 60 years later it has once more become a big part of my Holiday Season.
-The GYPSY: December 14, 2020-

MAKING NORMAN

Now Available As An eBook On Amazon.Com
MAKING NORMAN: A CHRISTMAS STORY
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084DRXPD3

Making Norman is the story of Norman The Nutcracker who does not know he is a Nutcracker and who does not know his name is Norman. But most importantly of all Norman the Nutcracker does not know what his purpose is. The only thing Norman really knows is that he must find his name and purpose which he soon discovers is not being a Nutcracker.

Follow the adventures of Norman the Nutcracker from his creation in the Toy Makers Factory to his abduction from the toy factory to his quest in the downtown streets of Topeka, Kansas to discover his name and his purpose.

This is the first children’s book by one of America’s favorite artists James A. George AKA; The GYPSY. Illustrated by the author young and old alike will delight in Norman the Nutcrackers adventures and the amazing friends he meets on his way to discovering himself.

The GYPSY’s Blog: My Annual Holiday Giveaway

Every Year During The Holiday Season I Giveaway A Painting; This Year I Put A Twist On It.
Finding new, fun and different ways to giveaway a painting can be a challenge and this year was no different. What was different was the amount of work that went into it.
I decided that I would give away the painting to one of the people I work with at Hobby Lobby. How to choose the recipient? With a game of course.
I spent numerous nights at my craft desk creating 2.5″ x 3.5″ Festive Boxes; 48 in all. I then filled 30 of those boxes with candy. Once the boxes were loaded I left the room and had my Lovely Lady Raychel place a “W” inside one of the lids.
I did not want to know which box had the “W” because part of my fun was to see how many boxes were opened before it was found. Whoever received the box with the “W” would win the special watercolor painting I had created just for this giveaway; “Stone Retreat”.
I then made a special sign to be displayed next to the gift wrapped painting and displayed boxes:
“I Handmade A Box Just For You
Someone Will Win My Painting Too
You Don’t Have To Buy, Barter or Bid
Just Look For The “W” Inside The Lid
But One Box Only For Everyone
You Don’t Want To Ruin All The Fun
Even If The Painting You Don’t Win
In Each Box A Prize Within
Lot’s of Candy For You To Enjoy
Yummy Sweets For Each Girl and Boy
So I Say Merry Christmas To You
And Happy New Year Too
-Yours Truly J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY”
I arranged everything on a table in the Break Room on December 17th which was a freight day and would guarantee that almost every employee would be to work that day…. Let the fun begin!
All through the day people were coming to me and saying, “I didn’t win.” There was one employee however that was telling everyone, “I want to win, I want that painting.” With 20 boxes gone and just 10 left that employee picked the right box and revealed the lid with the “W”.
The irony in this particular employee winning my painting is just the day before the giveaway I had tattooed a memorial tattoo on her thigh. So now she owns two pieces of my original art.
Congratulations and Merry Christmas Shauna Staten I hope you enjoy “Stone Retreat”.