Brick Heaven

 

Here's my brick story, and I'm stickin' to it!

I had a passion for bricks at an early age, it seems. Ever since I used to loiter around by the old depot as a kid, I admired those wonderful cobblestones, which weren't the real rounded ones like they used in streets of old, but more of a squared paving stone. Strangely, my wife's dad just happened to have a patio made of these that came from the demolition of the depot. I swear it had nothing to with my marrying his daughter! He gave me a few that were not needed, and that started my collection. It simply cannot be said that I'm short a load of bricks THIS time...5 pallets later.

My first real encounter of any consequence was about 25 years ago when I had some property in the country. At the time they were demolishing the old condemned Ransford Hotel Building. This is where I use to bowl as a kid. I had scoped it out earlier, and spotted some claw-leg bathtubs, steam radiators, maple bowling alley, and 9 million bricks. So, I hired a few of those extra-jumbo dumptrucks to swing my way, and my lovely wife asked what in the world that truck was doing backing in to our yard. She cut the deal off after the 4th. load, furious, and wondered what we'd ever do with all those bricks. Well, I cleaned what I needed for myself, then put out a sign for bricks, pick your own, 10 cents or whatever, and all the wife had to do is count them on the way out and take the cash. She later gave me the dickens for not getting more.

Some of those bricks are now the veneer on the front of my house. Most were cream colored, but there's just a few reds mixed in, and every year a few chunks of shale falls off, and has to be repaired. Avoid red bricks unless they can be in a totally dry area.

Also from the Ransford came huge sandstone window sills, weighing over 100#, and I had to haul them up from out of the slag pile, which is now "the pit", or the Green Lot parking area by the high school. I almost split a gut hauling these "big bricks" up that cliff on a handcart! There must be a hundred dump trucks of Ransford slag in that hole, and it still didn't fill it. The sills sat in my back yard as benches until a year ago when I moved them to a new location, around a fire pit. I will move them no more! They seem to have gotten heavier with age, like me.

I collect fire bricks, which are made of stone, not clay, and almost always labeled with the manufacturer's name molded in. 43 different ones grace my fireplace's hearth. My wife isn't too keen on those, either. I've found a few from the city hall renovation, the Paramount and Brainerd theater demoltions, and some others from still-standing buildings from around now-defuct boilers. They turn up in the most unlikely places, such as the half brick I spotted in Gull Lake just in 5' of water in front of Grand View Lodge at the end of a dock, of all places. 10 minutes of searching turned up the other half, and it was one I didn't have yet...what a thrill! Another showed up just yesterday (4/2/01) on the shore of Little Buffalo Creek, again one I did not yet have. They must like me. Now they're in brick heaven. Can you believe some people just collect stamps?

...to be continued.

Here's my personal brick site:

http://community-2.webtv.net/NOSTALGIAMERICA/OldIsGood/page4.html

Here you'll find a list of the firebricks I have, in case you want to donate one to my collection!

4/8/06: PHOTO ABOVE is an interesting story. So why did I file it under Brick Heaven? Well, it lead to two of my favorite "brickies" on the north side, on "Brick Lane" on the north side. See if you can find it! I did, but am waiting on inserting the address pending the current ownner's approval. I finally acquired a copy of Ingolf Dillan's 1922 Brainerd's Half Century, and in between the pages was this photo. But the best part was that all or the people's names were on the back, and it reads like a who's-who of early Brainerd settlers. I think the photo is post-1905, since the second from the left woman is Mrs. Carl Zapffe who didn't come to Brainerd until 1906. Typed list of names to follow.