A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“A brownie is like an espresso of cake” (7/28)
“Stress is when you wake up screaming and you realize you haven’t fallen asleep yet” (7/27)
“Everything we eat is processed sunshine” (7/27)
“We eat pizza from the inside out” (7/27)
“You’re too blessed to be stressed” (7/27)
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Entry from September 09, 2006
“One Riot—One Ranger” (Texas Rangers)

The Texas Rangers are a tough breed. They were often outnumbered, and the “one riot—one Ranger” statement is possibly true.


Texas Department of Public Safety—Texas Rangers
One Riot, One Ranger

The law authorized four Ranger companies of a maximum of 20 men each. The career of Company “B” Captain W. J. McDonald, and a book written about him, added much to the Ranger legend, including two of its most famous sayings.

The often cited “One Riot, One Ranger” appears to be based on several statements attributed to Captain McDonald by Albert Bigelow Paine in his classic book, Captain Bill McDonald: Texas Ranger. When sent to Dallas to prevent a scheduled prize-fight, McDonald supposedly was greeted at the train station by the city’s anxious mayor, who asked: “Where are the others?”

To that, McDonald is said to have replied, “Hell! ain’t I enough? There’s only one prize-fight!”

And on the title page of Paine’s 1909 book on McDonald are 19 words labeled as Captain McDonald’s creed: “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin.” Those words have evolved into the Ranger creed.

During the first two decades of the Twentieth Century, Rangers found themselves up against men in the wrong as always, but some of the law enforcement problems these officers confronted were as new as the century itself.

Since the days of the Mexican War, Rangers had occasional work to do along the long, meandering Rio Grande, but the emphasis on the river increased in 1910 with the outbreak of revolution in Mexico. Generally easy to ford, the Rio Grande had never been much more than a symbolic boundary. Some of the violence associated with the political upheaval in Mexico crossed the river into Texas.

30 March 1924, New York Times, “Texas Rangers a Terror to Lawless for 90 Years,” pg. XX10:
“We’re done for,” groaned the Mayor. “I asked for a whole company and they’ve sent me one Ranger.”

“Well,” drawled the Ranger, “there’s only one riot, isn’t there?”

Fiction, of course? Not in the least. Exactly that remark is attributed to Captain Bill McDonald, one of the most famous Rangers of them all, when he stepped off the train in Dallas all by himself to stop a forbidden prize fight. McDonald’s favorite trick was to play the lone hand against a mob. Time and again he met and outface hundreds. “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’” was his creed, and he staked his life on this belief unnumbered times through long decades of Ranger days.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Saturday, September 09, 2006 • Permalink