Floyd Clymer

Floyd Clymer’s Childhood Adventure”
18’h x 40’w
Media: acrylic-latex paint on brick, incorporating sheet metal signage.
Sponsored by the Berthoud Arts and Humanities Alliance
Berthoud, Colorado

“Floyd Clymer’s Childhood Adventure”

Floyd Clymer (1895-1970) is one of Berthoud’s more famous historical figures and local residents. As an adult, he made a name for himself in automobile and motorcycle history. In 1944, Floyd was mentioned in the May 29th issue of TIME magazine.

Floyd’ childhood was spent in Berthoud; the son of a local Doctor, he literally grew up with the birth of the automobile industry. With his father’s support, Floyd started 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. Unfortunately, the signage was removed when the building changed hands several years after the mural was created.

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”.