THE GOOD RANGER
Here's an old TV pal, Ranger Hal. He used to brighten mornings in North Florida & South Georgia. The picture below dates from the mid 1960s, showing Hal at the base of his make-believe forest tower. What did the yellow polka-dotted clown do? He made lots of kids happy! Ranger Hal placed contest entries in a large bag behind the character, and he later reached through the mouth to pull out a winner.
CLICK HERE for another visit with Ranger Hal.
FROM YESTERDAY'S TV LAND -- "And
remember, it's great to be an American!" This was part of the
farewell that Ranger Hal always gave at the end of his program.
stayed busy as a beaver. Ranger Hal told jokes, demonstrated handicrafts,
exhibited new products, tasted edibles, took vitamins, got a polio shot, and
warned about the dangers of forest fires. Hal also held contests
and spotlighted young singers, dancers, and magicians. Variety was the
name of his game. He spiced things up with funny cartoons, serious
animated features like "The Magic Princess," and such educational flicks a
SPECIAL GUEST STAR --
A youngster once got the chance to fast draw a toy gun on "The Ranger Hal Show,"
but this little Wyatt Earp suffered a case of the butter fingers. Cranston
Burney, a staff member with the Jacksonville Public Library System, enjoyed a
memorable visit with the good ranger. Prior to integration, Mr. Burney's
elementary school, S. P. Livingston, was an African American institution.
Nevertheless, Ranger Hal invited a group of its 2nd graders to his program in
about 1960. "This seems to have been progressive for the time," Mr. Burney
reflects. Young Cranston was among the children selected by
their teachers. "I think those picked were the ones least likely to
embarrass the school," according to Mr. Burney. The Jax native was driven
to the TV station from his home neighborhood of Mixon Town, not far from the
Beaver Street railroad viaduct. Mr. Burney recalls,
The only disappointment that wonderful day came quickly: The little visitors couldn't spot a real fire tower in the studio! "There just seemed to be concrete everywhere," Mr. Burney laughs. "Ranger Hal didn't descend a ladder, but walked out from a curtain." Nevertheless, the TV experience proved "magical, cool, and mysterious" to the kids, who watched intently from bleachers.
Things grew even more interesting for Cranston when he was chosen for a fast
draw contest. Show personnel equipped
him with a toy revolver in a holster. Then, on live television, he got to test his wild
west skills. "I think I was racing against a bell or light," says Mr. Burney.
His signal came to draw, and in one fluid motion Cranston grabbed at the gun.
Ranger Hal impressed the 2nd graders that day with his geniality and enthusiasm. In addition, they received a tour of the TV station, along with free snack cakes from a program sponsor, Merita Bread. Little Cranston could also claim bragging rights for a while because of his co-starring role. And although no there were no VCRs to record "The Ranger Hal Show," Mr. Burney has retained fond memories of a special day.
MAN -- Just who was
Now with kids and
grandkids of their own, Ranger Hal's baby boomer viewers still hold fond memories of their
special friend. One watcher recalls how
By the way, what was the entire farewell that Ranger Hal always signed off with? "Be good, have a happy birthday, get well soon, listen to Mom and Dad -- they're your best friends -- and remember, it's nice to be an American!"
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