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  • Floyd Clymer mural, Berthoud, CO Floyd Clymer mural, Berthoud, CO
  • DETAIL: Floyd Clymer, mechanic. DETAIL: Floyd Clymer, mechanic.
  • DETAIL: Taken from a historic photograph of young Floyd and his brother. DETAIL: Taken from a historic photograph of young Floyd and his brother.
  • DETAIL: Metal newspaper acts as a plaque for the mural. DETAIL: Metal newspaper acts as a plaque for the mural.
  • DETAIL: Newpaper plaque close-up. Layout and ads taken from historic 1910 Berthoud Newspaper. DETAIL: Newpaper plaque close-up. Layout and ads taken from historic 1910 Berthoud Newspaper.
  • Town's people seeing the boys off on a trip. Town's people seeing the boys off on a trip.
     
 

PUBLIC ART  |  ARCHIVES
Floyd Clymer History Mural


“Floyd Clymer’s Childhood Adventure”

18’h x 40’w
Acrylic Latex on wall, sheet metal

Commissioned by the Berthoud Arts and Humanities Alliance (BAHA)
Berthoud, Colorado

 

This mural is a tribute to one of Berthoud’s more famous local residents, Floyd Clymer (1895-1970). Floyd’ childhood was spent in Berthoud; the son of a local Doctor, he literally grew up with the birth of the automobile industry. He went on to make a name for himself in automobile and motorcycle history. In 1944, Floyd was mentioned in the May 29th issue of TIME magazine.

With his father’s support, Floydstarted selling cars at age 11. He was the youngest car dealer in the nation. Back in those days, being a car dealer meant driving prospective buyers to the car lots in Denver. In his hometown of Berthoud, Floyd maintained a repair shop and sold accessories and spare parts. Around 1910, The Rio, Cadillac and Maxwell were common brands of cars available. The rounded metal sign depicted in the upper right hand part of the mural was recreated from photos of actual signs of that era.

The mural subject matter is a recreation of an actual event that took place in 1910. The artist consulted historic photos and oral and written accounts to create the design. In the scene, 14 year old Floyd and his 11 year old brother Elmer, are getting ready to embark on a trip to Spokane, Washington (by themselves), in a “Flanders 500” automobile (built by Studebaker), as part of a Studebaker promotional event. Depicted in the mural are townspeople gathered around to “send the boys off”. One of the figures is holding a newspaper that serves as the plaque for this public art piece. It tells the story of the boys’ departure in an article format, and also features ads from actual local businesses. The format of the newspaper (created on metal), was based on an actual Berthoud newspaper layout from 1910.

As it turned out, the boys broke down in Wyoming (no paved roads in Wyoming in 1910), returning by train to Denver for repairs. This happened twice, and they finally just loaded the automobile on the train and went on to Spokane to join their parents (who had, in the meantime, relocated to Spokane). On a side note: the artist was recently contacted by a man from the Spokane area who had purchased an original “Flanders 500”, and believed it to be the same vehicle that the boys brought to Washington State in 1910.


This mural was featured in an article about Floyd Clymer in the 2004 Swiss publication of “Automobile Year”. When the building changed hands, the new owner removed the upper part of the mural (all of the signage and lettering), the lower part of the mural was refurbished in 2013.


About the mural:

When the mural was originally being painted, a woman, (then in her 90’s), came by the mural site. She relayed to the artist that as 3 year old in 1910, she had been in attendance at the local sendoff event for Floyd and his brother. Her name was Helen Fickel. The little girl depicted in the mural is meant to represent Helen as a child. That little girl grew up to be a Doctor. She and her husband became two of Berthoud’s leading citizens and arts supporters. To celebrate her 98th birthday, Helen and her husband helped fund Berthoud’s most iconic mural on the historic Grain Elevator. Read more about Helen Fickel and the McCarty Fickel museum at www.berthoudhistorical society.org

A photo of the mural appeared in an internationally renowned annual journal publication in 2004. The prestigious Swiss publication, “Automobile Year”, featured an article (written by Karl Ludvigsen) about the life and pioneering accomplishments of Floyd Clymer. In years since the mural was completed, the artist has been contacted from time to time by journalists from around the country, researching the life of Floyd Clymer for various newspapers and publications.

The mural, located on the East outside wall of 247 Mountain Ave in downtown Berthoud, was completed in 1999, and the photos pictured above were taken at that time. In 1999, the business inside (then known as the “Classic Auto” building), sold antique auto memorabilia, which complimented the subject matter of the mural on the outside. Eventually the building changed hands and the new owners felt that the signage part of the mural design misled passing motorists as to the nature of the current business and they requested that BAHA remove all of the signage and lettering design elements from the upper part of the mural.

From the artist’s perspective, the removal of the top part of the mural threw off the visual balance of the design elements in the piece and also took away part of the visual story. However, there is no doubt about local pride and commitment to the Berthoud Arts and Humanities Alliance mural program. In 2013, BAHA once again commissioned the artist; this time to refurbish the lower part of the Floyd Clymer mural. The BAHA arts organization, often operating on a “shoestring budget”, is reliant on fundraising and donations, yet continues to place importance on maintaining the murals that were funded by their public mural program. They sponsor many other arts programs as well. BAHA and its dedicated volunteers are the backbone of a vibrant arts community in the relatively small town of Berthoud. To learn more about the Berthoud Arts and Humanities Alliance: http://berthoudarts.org

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© 2016 Susan K. Dailey