A man in a red shirt, black vest and a battered black top hat clanged a cast iron frying pan with a spoon. The crowd grew silent. Beside him, a red cloth covered a stone mounted plaque next to the entrance to Veterans Park.
On Saturday, members of the fraternal order E Clampus Vitus (ECV), called Clampers, unveiled plaques identifying the military equipment on display at Veterans Park.
The project began a few months ago with approval from the county commission for members of the Samuel L. Clemens 1856 outpost of E Clampus Vitus, headed by Bill Sovinsky, to go ahead with the plaque project.
The project spanned the beginning of the Samuel L. Clemens 1856 outpost, Sovinsky said. In order to become a full chapter, the outpost has to prove itself through acts of charity and service.
ECV has its roots in 19th century mining, though it playfully claims to go back all the way to Adam. The order began as a parody of other fraternal orders like the Freemasons, and welcomed the miners that the more elite orders rejected. The miners appreciated ECV because the order gave them a way to support each other.
ECV’s motto, Credo Quia Absurdum, means “I believe it because it is absurd,” and highlights the order’s tongue-in-cheek refusal to take itself seriously.
“If you guys have questions about us, don’t ask us. We’ll lie about it,” Sovinsky joked.
But Clampers take western and mining history very seriously. They devote a great deal of time and energy providing plaques for historic landmarks in the west.
“Clampers are basically all about history,” Sovinsky said. “History is knowledge of the past. With these plaques, we hope that visitors will learn a little more about what was used by the men and women who served.
“Lessons learned will make the future of this county and our country a better place for all.”
Clampers shouted “Satisfactory!” when the stone sign at the front of the park was unveiled.
Clamper Dave Bernosky thanked the Humboldt County Commission for approving the project, and thanked the project’s financial sponsors.
A representative of Barrick Turquoise Ridge Mine said, “We are very privileged to be here today to celebrate in this dedication. All that our employees give and all that sacrifice service over self, we salute you and honor you today, and every day.”
Newmont Twin Creeks Mine’s General Manager Melissa Harmon said, “We’re proud at Newmont to support the community in all ways that we can, but in particular anything that supports our veterans is something that we’re very happy to support.”
A representative from SSR Mining Marigold Mine couldn’t make the dedication. The group held a moment of silence for the two Marigold Mine employees lost in the accident last month.
Winners Inn and Casino and Tallman Lumber also donated.
After Bernosky named each of the pieces of equipment, he and Sovinsky picked up the bottles of beer hidden behind the sign. “We christen this,” Sovinsky said as they poured the beers over the top of the stone. Sovinsky explained, “It’s cheaper than champagne.”