The stage was set for the great war. Two armies of child warriors from the neighborhood, passing the summer days, lined up against each other. One army occupied the High ground armed with Sticks, Toy guns, old truck tires and boulders. the other's task was to charge up the hill.
The battle began with war cries and yelps as the army charged up the hill trying to avoid the tires and boulders raining down on them from the heights above. Some kids became casualties of the boulders and tires...later proudly wearing their bumps and bruises as badges of honor.
As I neared the top of the hill, One older boy, in a heated moment, pounced on me. My brother Clyde was the first to jump to the defense of his little brother, just as he always did his entire life.
This is one of my first memories of my brother Clyde David Fritch in the early 1960’s.
We grew up in the Belleview neighborhood of Rock Springs Wyoming. The five Fritch boys were a part of the Belleview Gang. We were a tight knit group of around 20 boys, ranging in age from 5 to 15 yrs. old. It was there, in that sage brush infested, windblown town, filled with Lizards, horned toads and scorpions, where we all first learned the meaning of Loyalty, family and protecting each other.
Clyde was the essence of those three words, loyalty, family, Protection.
It was a wondrous time for all of us as young men, and Clyde, in many ways, was the best thing about that dusty, shit town.
When Clyde was about 9 or 10, the 5 of us were playing some meaningless game in the bedroom shared by the 4 youngest brothers. Clyde decided to do a Tarzan swing on the curtains.
The curtains pulled out of the plaster wall with Clyde landing on his back covered with the drapes... you could’ve heard a pin drop in the silence that immediately followed.
In typical Fritch fashion, Clyde Gerry rigged the blinds back into the wall….And when Mom pulled open the curtains the next day they fell off the wall. We all looked at her and said “Mom, what did you do”...
I am fairly certain Mom knew we broke them, but, she must have admired Clyde’s inventiveness because we didn’t get in trouble.
I remember anytime when one of us was distress, Clyde was always the first one to Jump to our defense leading with his fists and a heart as big as a mountain.. Though he and I quarreled constantly in our youth, he never allowed anyone to mess with his little brother.
Clyde was the most loyal person I have ever known. He would protect you to death, if necessary.
As a boy Clyde loved Christmas and had all the brothers put on the Family Christmas production of Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol, produced, directed and Starring Clyde.
Clyde had a bright mind and in many ways was the smartest of us all. You very rarely won an argument with him. He always knew the facts and had very intuitive, logical insights and arguments that made perfect sense…even if you totally disagreed with him. ...and he always got the last word in.
He would get the best of you. Always.
I will miss those conversations.
Another time, He and Carl were playing a board game called Civil war. As I recall, Carl had a warship piece and Clyde had land based infantry piece.
Being Fritch boys ...they were very stubborn... both of them kept moving their game pieces but neither could win...and they didn't want to settle for a draw.
Several hours later, Clyde found an intuitive, logical way to end the game...he got a pencil and drew a bridge to Carl's warship….Who would think of that??
Clyde had very little need for material things in life. Besides Family and Country; A good cup of Coffee, some potato salad, conversations and old television shows were all he needed.
He was a man of modest means but would give you the last dollar he had to help you out and then take the coat off his back to make sure you were warm.
I witnessed his generosity, Giving his family everything he had to help and protect them with no second thought about the financial consequences to himself. He was all heart.
My brother went thru dark times but I never saw him happier then when he was surrounded by his family. He loved His two sons Michael and Johnny and their wives Jana and Adri…He was happiest when he was with them and His 6 grandchildren.
Our Dad had nicknames for all of us boys and Clyde was known as his “itty bity Buddy”. It was Later shortened and he was known to many of the family affectionately as “bitty bud”.
My grandson Tosh reminds me a lot of my brother Clyde..That's why I call him "my little buddy"
When I remember Clyde the Bruce Springsteen song “Blood Brothers” always pops into my head.
We played king of the mountain…out on the end
The world come chargin' up the hill …and we were women and men
Now there's so much that time … time and memory fade away
We got our own roads to ride … and chances we gotta take
We stood side by side… each one fightin' for the other
We said until we died we'd always be… blood brothers
Now the hardness of this world ..slowly grinds your dreams away
Makin' a fool's joke …out of the promises we make
And what once seemed black and white… turns to so many shades of gray
We lose ourselves in work… Work to do and bills to pay
And it's a ride, ride, ride,… and there ain't much cover
With no one runnin' by your side… my blood brother
On through the houses of the dead past those fallen in their tracks
Always moving ahead and never looking back
Now I don't know how I feel, I don't know how I feel tonight
If I've fallen 'neath the wheel, if I've lost or I gained sight
I don't even know why, I don't know why I made this call
Or if any of this matters anymore after all
But the stars are burning bright like some mystery uncovered
I'll keep moving through the dark with you in my heart, my blood brother
Clyde had the rare strength to live life his way and according to his principles. If he had regrets, I am sure they were too few to remember. How many of us have that kind of courage.
Farewell Big brother, be sure to give Dad, Mom and Carl a hug for us.…
I will never forget your laugh.
I shall miss our conversations, and while I never won an argument with you, I can finally say I finally got the last word in,
though I would gladly trade that to have you here standing beside me..
I'll keep movin' through the dark...
with you in my heart…
My… blood brother