Rodney Ranger...And Clementine???!!! (Only Part Of) The Tale Of The Lakewood Ranger(s)
For quite some time now, I'd been hoping to write a comprehensive history of the Lakewood Ranger names and logos for you.
That did not work out too well.
The history of different aspects of a school district can easily get lost over time. Heck, just about anything can get lost over time, can it not? I have enough trouble these days simply finding yesterday's missing sock, let alone trying to tell you what I did last Tuesday night.
Anyway, what I'd WANTED to do for you was to detail the historical background of the Lakewood High School mascot name and logo. To a certain extent, I was able to fill in a number of blanks, but there are many others that remain.
See, school personnel, buildings, and storage spaces change over the years, and stories and facts can get twisted around like pretzels over time. Ever try that classroom game where a note is started at one end of the class and is re-written by each student, only to find that its real meaning is lost by the time it makes it to the other side of the room? Well, that's kind of what I ran into in the search for the history of the Lakewood Ranger.
Teresa Andriani is one fine person. She runs the Ranger Shop up at the high school and is the go-to person for your outstanding Lakewood High School Alumni Foundation. She helps to oversee the volumes of old yearbooks and records that mark the passage of Lakewood High School history. From Teresa, I learned that the teams of Lakewood High, up to 1933, were apparently called the "Purple." In 1933, there was a contest held for a mascot name with a $5.00 prize awarded to the winner. A young girl came up with the name "Ranger," in part due to Lakewood's being known as a city of trees. (Presumably the connection would have been a park ranger.)
Over the years, the ranger idea went through, um, several incarnations. Perhaps the most (or least) memorable was in the 1949 LHS Cinema school yearbook, with two child-like depictions of cowboy/cowgirl figures on the front of the book. In that edition, the yearbook introduced a gun-toten' "Rodney Ranger and his purty li'l gal friend Clementine." On the yearbook's opening page, the '49 Rangers were even greeted by a drawing of a 10-gallon cowboy hat and a holstered six-shooter! Also in that yearbook was the now-famous outline of the Ranger (a grown-up Rodney?) on a bucking horse. Fortunately, it was that logo, rather than li'l Rodney Ranger, that became the popular Ranger image for many years.
Sometime around 1970, the bucking bronco ridin' Ranger image was phased out in favor of a bow-legged cowboy-hatted figure. I've received several conflicting stories about the exact origin of that logo, but I do know that it originally sported a pair of six-guns at the hip. Those guns are now long gone, no doubt in the wake of several acts of nationwide school violence. Ironically, half a century ago, there actually were student gun clubs that met in Lakewood's and other schools and shot their .22 rifles in the gyms!
Those days are long gone.
When I joined the Lakewood High School Marching Band, their only (at that time) bass drum sported an old drumhead with that bucking-bronco ridin' Ranger painted on it. As I had been drafted into playing that heavy drum (and was NOT particularly happy about it), I suppose I wasn't playing that drum loud enough when the band director, the great Richard Strang, came over to me and (in let us say, the strongest possible terms) "suggested" that I play that drum louder! Angry and embarrassed, I did so, ripping that drumhead in half with a savage "boom"! At that point, I was told to keep up the good work! (Back then, that one bass drum was the absolute backbone of the band--It HAD to be loud! In fact, we had friends on Riverside Drive who said that the only instrument they could hear on Friday nights was my drum!)
Mr. Strang later gave me that old broken and useless drum head as a souvenir, and the Class of '69 all signed it at our 20th reunion in 1989. In training our Ranger drumlines as a Lakewood Schools volunteer, I frequently bring that old head along with me to help instill a sense of tradition, pride, and continuity for the new drummers.
Another great Ranger effigy was given to me by former LHS Coach Glen Saltzbrenner, and that's the carved Ranger shown in the photo, along with the drumhead. Note the now-missing guns that graced the first prototype of this design. Many students today have probably wondered why that present-day Ranger is posed in the manner that he is!
Still another modern Ranger design, in stylized form, graces the t-shirts of the Lakewood Ranger Alumni Band.
I'm sure that all of these designs have represented a quiet and sincere ongoing effort to represent Lakewood High School to others in the best possible light. I have no idea what happened to Rangerette Clementine, however.