Clampers pay visit to Anza’s Little Red Schoolhouse

The Clampers created a 196-member crowd in front of the Little Red Schoolhouse Saturday, March 18. Diane Seiker photo
The Clampers created a 196-member crowd in front of the Little Red Schoolhouse Saturday, March 18. Diane Seiker photo

Twenty-five years ago a historical marker was installed in front of the Little Red Schoolhouse. The plaque has been moved from the original location on the grounds to up closer to the road, where it remains today.

Members of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus descended upon the Little Red Schoolhouse in a festive, good-humored, patriotic and energetic manner to visit the marker Saturday, March 18. The group had installed the marker in 1991.

The Billy Holcomb Chapter 1069 of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus (Clampers) is dedicated to the history of the Old West, especially old mining areas and have placed more than 150 plaques at historical sites all over California, Arizona and Nevada. In November 1991, the plaque was placed at Hamilton School, now more commonly known as The Little Red Schoolhouse.

The visit by the Clampers to Anza was one stop on their current Hemorroid XXXII outing. One of the men who was instrumental in making and placing the plaque a little over 25 years ago, Michael “Smitty” Smith was on hand Saturday.

While wearing a dunce cap, worn due to “saying the wrong thing,” Bill “Desert Pizza” Hammontree, the Vice Noble Grand Humbug, or vice president to non-Clampers, read off a history of the Anza area, as one member held up a sign that said “QUIET please.”

A framed picture of the dedication in 1991 was presented to the Clampers by Anza Civic Improvement League members. The ACIL is the organization that takes care of the Little Red Schoolhouse and Minor Park.

Noble Grand Humbug Scott “Scootertrash” Wall and “Slim Tim” presented ACIL Vice President Debbie Vesey with a collection of cash donated by the Clamper members.

“Thank you for allowing us to invade your town,” said Slim Tim.

And invade they did, in a totally organized manner. First to arrive were the parking attendants in day glo vests, who directed the massive Clamper train of cars, trucks, jeeps and SUVs into the parking area in the field next to Minor Park. Dressed in their signature red shirts, they set up the PA system, socialized, mingled with the ACIL members, took selfies with the historical marker, posed for pictures, laughed and joked and made their presentation.

Then they left just as organized, heading for the Hamilton Museum.

Founded in its current form in 1845, Clamper officials are called “Noble Grand Humbug,” “Roisterous Iscutis,” “Grand Imperturbable Hangman,” “Clamps Vitrix,” and “Royal Gyascutis.”

Much of the Clamper’s success rose from their parodies of older, more established and “stuffy” organizations such as the Masons. They made much fun of the ceremonial dress of the other fraternities, starting the red shirts, black hat and jeans look they still have today. This group was very popular among the miners in the gold boom towns and rambunctious initiation rites became the norm.

Despite the humor and rowdiness of E Clampus Vitus, the members take their brotherhood seriously. Busy installing historical markers, they also fundraise for charities and help countless causes and are always there to help each other.

“There are currently 44 chapters with nearly 50,000 active members. The newest chapter starts in June in Colorado, the Robert Leroy Parker (Butch Cassidy) chapter.

“I will be joining that one also,” remarked “Scootertrash” Wall.

As you can see, nicknames are a must with the Clampers. I even earned mine that day.

“Thanks, and hope to see you soon Dizzy!” Scooter said.

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