Upon reading the story of the Lone Ranger in Michigan History Magazine, I was flooded with emotional memories.
The school year was 1949-50. Guardian Angels School in Clawson, Michigan opened in 1948 with grades first through sixth. Now 1949, there was a new boy in our seventh grade class named Richard Hendrickson. He was just an average student, like the rest of us, except Richard had a condition where his nose ran constantly. He always had a handkerchief. The kids, being kids, teased him often. The school year ended and we all went on our summer vacation. September 1949, we were back in school– all of us, including Richard, who still had the same condition. We had become friends on the playground and I began to notice how the other kids were treating Richard. Today, it would be called bullying. Around the end of October, Richard wasn’t coming to school. A week later, we heard from the teacher, Sister Incarnata, that Richard had lung cancer. I got his home address and began to stop by a couple times a week to visit with him. He lived in a garage house with his mom and sister. They were very poor.
Richard and I both liked to listen to the Lone Ranger on the radio. One day, when I was visiting, Richard said, “I sure would like to meet The Lone Ranger,” and that was all he said about this to me. Somehow, I don’t know how, Brace Beemer, the actor who portrayed the Lone Ranger on the radio, was informed of Richard’s sickness and his wish. About a month later, when I stopped in to visit, I noticed Richard was becoming very weak, but he was so filled with joy.
“Richard, what happened,” I asked.
“The Lone Ranger came to see me today,” he said. “He spent about an hour-and-a-half with me and, when he left, he gave me a silver bullet.”
Richard was so happy.
I visited for a while and I said, “I’ll see you in a few days,” but that was not to be. Richard died in his sleep that night. His wish had been fulfilled thanks to the generosity of Brace Beemer.
I never saw such a change in his classmates – so much remorse for how they had treated Richard. I’ve thought of Richard often over the years and I’m sure his classmates have, too.