Tribute to Clyde Adamson
This isn’t easy to write. Oh, not because it hurts so much that Clyde was our friend and his passing has shocked us all. And not because his leaving opens a big hole that can never be filled. Writing about Clyde Adamson is diffcult because we all knew him as Marshal Clyde. Sure, a few of us knew a little about him before and after his time at the Village, but most of us knew him as Marshal Clyde. So, writing about Clyde the man is not so easy. He was private man about things personal to him, but if he had a skill set that you wanted learn about, he would spend all the time needed to teach it to you.
Maybe some remerbrances offered here, from FV Staff and friends, will help tell Clyde’s story:
Bob Baranick: I'm so sorry to hear the news. Clyde was always an inspiration. And I was very honored to have have him visit with me at Disneyland a few years back. That was very special walking around Frontierland with one of my heros from Frontier Village!
Curt Daniels: I am devastated by the death of Clyde. He was a great mentor for Randy and I when we started at the Village and a friend ever after. I know some stories will come to me to share but right now I'm just numb. Vaya con Dios, Clyde!
Dave Deacon: My condolences to all who knew an interesting individual of an amazing little park.
Pat Hanna: I first met Clyde in 1967. I was 18 at the time, and Clyde would have been 27. Of course, as I look back, I would have sworn that Clyde was at least in his late 30's or 40's. He was in fact a big guy, burly, and at times, very intimidating, but definitely in control. Despite his soft charismatic demeanor. It seemed like he was someone bigger than life itself. I was a new hire that year. Clyde, being the Village lawman, made it his business to know who was on board. I don't feel that I ever got to know Clyde real well as Marshal, but we got along nicely. As I moved up the ranks, our relationship also grew. It was in 1968, when Warren returned to FV, that Clyde warned me and several others to "watch out for that guy. 'cause he could make trouble for you". I've never forgotten that. Of course, I know differently, but I think Clyde always had his eye out for Warren. I have no doubt that it was a sign of respect. Other than our occasional chats behind the scenes, our paths did not cross very often. He being in entertainment and me in operations, I really did not rub elbows with Clyde that often but we were always friendly. When Clyde decided to hang up his spurs as Marshal, and transition to Maintenance, I probably got to see a lot more of him, especially in the off-season when deferred maintenance and construction was in full swing. Clyde was different than most. Jokingly, it seemed like there was nothing that Clyde couldn't fix, without a hammer. Of course I say that respectfully. But he must have been good at what he did otherwise he wouldn't have been there, right? When he finally retired from FV, I believe he took a job with Fire Master. Clyde was at the Village quite often recharging our fire extinguishers. We'd always chat while he was there. How many years did that last, I don't know, but I believe Clyde moved on again, eventually to Santa Clara Valley Water District. Much time had passed before I saw Clyde again. I think it was Memorial Day weekend in 2005 that I ran into him very surprisingly and quite by mistake. I was with my family at Ardenwood Farms for Civil War Days. Who should I find there but Clyde, with his tent and a little mercantile set up to sell his wares. I had purchased a Bull Horn cup that Clyde made with his own hands. We chatted to catch up on old times before parting. Following that, I saw him again at one or two of our RFV picnics and I ran into him once at OSH about two years ago. Clyde is one of those guys you do not forget easily. Though I did not see him often, his absence will be felt.
Terri Cosby Imel: He not only touched the lives of those that knew him, but probably hundreds of kids that watched him perform. And maybe even a few lawmen came out of it.
Mike Judd: I sure do remember Marshal Clyde. Even in the days after FV and I would see him at his working fire safety, I would call him Marshal. He would tell us, "You’re cruising for a brusin’ and you have a long ways to slide." It is so sad that Len, Indian Jim, and now Clyde are gone. These are just some of the people that made a big difference in my life. My first job at FV was watering the Stagecoach horses three times a day. I got paid 4 bits (.50 cents). I also helped on Indian Island; I watered it down in the morning, and helped in the trading post. I also did a little Indian dancing and work at the archery range. Then my first real job with a FV pay check was mowing the lawns in the picnic area. Then in 1968-1970, I slept at the fish pond for Harry Hatch. So, I was there from 1963 until 1970. Some of the BEST times I ever had. I met some great people.
Wild Bill Kelsey: What surprising and sad news! I remember lots of FV moments with Clyde. He was a special kinda guy and a good sport. When he took over after Marshal Ron, we gave him a hard time. Several undertakers teased him by calling him "Sheriff Clyde" in the middle of an act. When he took off his gun belt for lunch and left it in the dressing room, I would unload every other chamber in his Colts. When the shootin' started, his gun went "bang-click-bang-click" and so on. He quickly caught on and thereafter diligently checked his guns before gunning me down. In a train robbery bit I climbed a wall and escaped leaving Clyde to tell the kids "I'll get him next time"…and one hour later, he did. In the High Noon gunfight the standard bit was for the outlaw to say, "All right Tin Star, but I'll be back", then turn away - take 3 steps - turn and fire. We did this twice a day, every day and it became routine: "3 steps - turn and fire". Except one day when I didn't turn; I kept walkin' and on the third step, Clyde shot me in the back. Little kids were asking "How come? Wild Bill never cleared leather!" On another occasion, I took one step and got off 4 shots before Clyde cleared leather. Clyde said, "Good thing he was a bad shot!" Clyde was always good natured about all this. Everyone who ever "showed his hand" will miss him.
Jan Shepherd Lee: Marshal Clyde was one of a kind. He could tell one story after another, but he loved to talk about his grandbabies, twins. They will miss their Grandad, but I know they will be talking about him for years to come. I remember in 1968 and 69 he would come into the break room right behind Shoe and Spike and Dapper Dan's, where I worked, and I was terrified of him. He was an adult with a gun and I was just a kid 18-19 years old. I remember on my days off (who had any of those?), I would come out to ride the train and watch the gunfights. I was amazed at the scripts and the antics they went through to put on a show. I used to laugh about how the customers would run when they hear the show starting. Dapper Dan's would empty out pretty quickly. He will be missed by all that knew him.
Mat Lindstedt, FV Webmaster: Wow. I am very saddened by this news, but I am humbled that I was able to know Clyde Adamson. One of my favorite stories of Clyde is when Shaughnessy went door to door at the mobile home park next to the Edenvale park to hand out flyers for the picnic. Clyde answered the door and literally without saying a word, grabbed the papers from Shaughnessy's hand and demanded to know what this was all about. Shaughnessy described the look on Clyde's face when he read about the picnic and the gunfighter show that we were planning. Clyde made our day when he told the tales of his time working at the Village. We saw Clyde many times at the annual picnic. He would always have a great stories to tell, but most importantly, he truly enjoyed seeing his legacy at the Village remembered.
Chad Lowe (AKA Dutch): First off let me express my condolences on the loss of a dear friend. I have basically known Clyde my whole life. I remember when my father and I reconnected and I started doing work as a Fall Guy. My father re-introduced me to Clyde at the Cow Palace when they would do “Frontier Days”. We walked up to his mountain man table and my father said “Clyde, this is my oldest son Chad.” Clyde’s response “Charlie, I know who Chad is.” He shook my hand and said “Nice to see you again Chad.” From that point on I felt like I was a member of the group. Clyde like so many of the Fall Guys was more then willing to show me the ropes and give me advice on being a Fall Guy, something I will never forget. Clyde was a good friend to the Fall Guys and will be missed. The best tribute I can think of is to re-tale all the great stories and fond memories we have at the next gathering. By remembering Clyde Adamson a.k.a. Marshal Clyde, a.k.a. Iron Dollar, he will live on in each of us. Some fond memories I have: Clyde, myself and my father had to do a show at a company picnic in San Jose. Clyde was the lawman and my father and I were the outlaws. Well the park would not let us fire our pistols (we did not find out about this until we arrived) and so we had to improvise. So we did a "Stunt demo.” My father proceeded to "beat me up" you know, stomach punch, face kick and double arms to the back, when Marshal Clyde walks onto the scene. As I recall, my dad pulls a knife on Clyde, and Clyde pulls a gun. Well the gun is "jammed" (as part of the skit) and my dad attacks with the knife. Well since Clyde towers over my father, and simply grabs the knife and disarms him. So next my dad punches Clyde in the stomach, which shrugs off and knees my dad in the stomach and flips him ending the fight. At the end, he helps me up asks if I am ok and grabs my dad by the collar and drags him off to Jail ending the skit. As I recall, he would have preferred to fire his pistol. All in all, he did what needed to be done to entertain the crowd. A true professional.
Chad Lowe (Dutch) Chuck Lowe (aka Marshal Westin): I have known Marshal Clyde for almost 47 years, starting back when I was a performer with the Gold Coast Players performing Melodramas at Frontier Village. I never saw Marshal Clyde mad, he was a true Gentle Man, but he sometimes would get ticked off at us rookie gunfighters when we tried to pull a prank on him. In 1969 Frontier Village ask me to become their Entertainment Director, along with the title came the duties of Frontier Village Marshal. Now me being only 5 feet 7 inches tall and Clyde well over 6 feet, I had some big boots to fill. But when Marshal Clyde pined that Badge on me, I was 10 feet tall. As an entertainer I only played the part, Clyde was the part. All who came after were just entertainers, Clyde was the only real Marshal of Frontier Village. Thank you Marshal Clyde for letting me play in your backyard and be part of the magic.
Shaughnessy McGehee: I LOVED Clyde!!! He was really something!!
To me he was a mans man! Big and kind of burly looking. He could be
kind of intimidating and VERY kind hearted in the same breath. He was always willing to teach me something new, too. I remember the first time I went to one of the Mountain Man Rendezvous' at Roaring Camp and I kept calling him Marshal Clyde. He kindly told me that "I'm known as Iron Dollar up here." A few minutes later I slipped and called him Marshal Clyde again. In a much BOLDER voice he said "IT'S IRON DOLLAR!!", and the look on his face made me think, "Hmmmm, this fellow looks like he means business and since I'm only about half his size he looks like he could do some real damage so I better remember to call him Iron Dollar." I never forgot!!! (And I didn't even TRY to call him Iron Dollar at the (FV) picnics!
I also remember at his first picnic that Claire Mix had brought that small choir and some sound equipment so that they could sing the Frontier Village song for us all. I was standing near Marshal Clyde when the music started and I told him he really needed to listen carefully to the words. I paid special attention to see him when he heard the part: "Wild Bill Kelsey shootin it out. Always beaten by Marshal Clyde!" I wish you could have seen his face!
He was soooo surprised and humbled! I think I even saw a slight tear forming in his eyes! Of course you should have heard the funny conversation I had with his son Scott after the song was over about how now they were never going to hear the end of how Clyde actually had part of a song written about him. Seeing those two banter back and forth made me miss my own Dad. My son, Michael, and I stopped by his house one time a few years ago and spent about an hour and a half there. He showed us the pistol he was given when he "retired" from Frontier Village. He brought out a buffalo hide and spread it out on the floor and we ran our fingers through the longer haired parts of it. I had never been that close to one before! He
told us how when he was courting his wife he drove the one Frontier Village Car/Antique Auto that had a gas motor and could be driven around almost anywhere from Frontier Village all the way to Campbell to her house so he could give her a ride in it. (No one knows what ever happened to this particular car.) On the way back, the sun was beginning to set and it was getting a little bit dark and a policeman stopped him. I guess he was driving it on the street. He thought he was in real trouble. The cop just wanted to know about the car and let him drive on his merry way! It's quite a romantic story. Let me just say one more time that I really LOVED Marshal Clyde!!!
Karen Mullaly: I was at his and Jerri's wedding and always appreciated his "straight shooting" way of communicating and interacting with all. I, too, am shocked at his passing and very saddened.
Ben Perry: Yes he did touch a lot of lives, and genuinely cared for all of them. I echo a lot of what was written about Clyde. Yes he was a big man with a booming voice that would stop you in your tracks, acting or not. I was not privileged to be a undertaker when Clyde was Marshal, I got to spew Chuck with "the BP's,” God knows what Clyde would of done to me. If you had a question about anything he would take the time to answer it, explain it, or even show you how to make it or fix it. The one thing he loved to do is sharpen knives, and he would like get them so sharp he could dry shave his arm to show you. Just like Chad Lowe and all of the other next generation who grew up knowing Clyde all of their lives (my kids included), Clyde's passing was a real blow. I have a picture of my daughter about 12 months old sitting on Clyde's lap playing poker (one of the other things he'd like to do). It's a real blow when one of your family passes, my kids called Clyde and all of the Fall Guys "Uncle" and were proud to do it.
Rebekah Sprecher: I grew up with Leann, Clyde's daughter. We were in Girl Scouts and school together. Clyde always came and gave demonstrations of his various passions like firearms, and he was so fun and funny. When I took my kids over to visit he and his wife in recent years, he always took my boys out and showed him those things too, let them hold guns and stuff. They really loved that.
Dan and Joanne Thompson : My wife Joanne and I were very saddened to hear of Clyde's passing. Joanne and I both worked with Clyde at the Village in the 1969-1971 time frame. I first worked with Clyde as an undertaker when he was still Marshal. At that time, Randy and Curt were the outlaws and Bill Perry and I worked as the undertakers. Later I went on to work with Carl Agler in Maintenance, along with Rich Chadwick. After Clyde retired from being Marshal, he came to the Maintenance Department. So I worked along side of him for quite some time until he left the village to start his "fire extinguisher" business. Clyde was always good to me in all aspects, and was great to work with. Joanne and I ran into him at a store a few years back and had a long conversation with him. I believe he was working for the San Jose Water Company at the time. Joanne and I are going to miss him, just as we miss Carl.
Allen Weitzel: I'm not so sure how different my moments with Clyde were, than anyone else's. When I started working at the Village, for a long time and to a lot of people, I was "Warren's Brother." This might not mean much to anyone else, but to me it was a big deal that, from Clyde, I was only Warren's brother for about a day - from then on I was Allen. And I may have only been Warren's brother because that first day he didn't know my name. That little nuance was huge to me! My first night gunfight, as his sidekick lawman, I kinda stood off to the side. He and Bill were the stars of the show and was trying to give him the spotlight, so to speak. Before Bill started the action, he called me over closer to him and said, "I want you next to me, you're my Deputy!" One time on Bill's day off, I was the outlaw. We had a bunch of rowdy kids in the park that day and when I fell, I was way off to the side and dangerously close to these rowdy kids. Clyde elected to not do the long, drawn-out undertaker act. He just picked me up one-handed by the center of my belt/gunbelt (like a muscle builder picks up a bar bell), and carried me away from the audience and placed me on the center of the hearse. I weighed about 140 pounds in those days, but talk about strong - picking up that weight, center mass, with all that gear on was no simple task. He didn't groan or anything, but when we got back into the courtyard and the gates were closed, looked me in the eyes and said, "Let's not do that, again!" Then he winked at me, smiled and walked off. From that point forward, I made sure I ended up equidistant from the crowd, and in the middle of our "theater-in-the-round” circle, even if I had to roll many times to get there.
Warren Weitzel: What a SHOCK! I just read the e-mail this morning, 5 A.M. I had a nice long talk with Clyde at Chuck's birthday party a few weeks ago. He was happy and full of chatter. Wow, the end of an era. A grand gentleman.
Joe Zukin, October 9, 2009: Frontier Village had a series of marshals over the years. They were chosen for their demeanor, their appearance, their personality and their ability to look authentic in a gun fight. Clyde was absolutely one of the best. Behind this tough looking big bear of a man was a calm interior and a sort of pathos which emanated to every adult and child he came in contact with while doing his duty as the head lawman of his Frontier Village. I genuinely liked being associated with Clyde. My heart goes out to his family. He will be missed.
Joe Zukin, October 13, 2009: I do remember that when we knew Ron was going to leave we decided to look at our present group of employees because we wanted to be able to offer full time employment. Clyde was willing to work through the off season in other capacities. In addition, he certainly fit the bill. I also remember hoping he would accept and become an actor, something that he was not used to doing at the time. He turned out to be a great Marshal.
(s) The Fall Guys, The FV Staff and Clyde’s Friends