• Ken Hartke
    Ken Hartke created a new blog post, Brickwork

    Brickwork

    Posted in Blogs on Friday, 01 November 2019

    Laying bricks is honest work. Hard, straight forward work. It is repetitive. You do one thing and then the next and so on. It can almost rely on muscle memory. Almost like a rosary or working prayer beads. That’s honest work too. Thoughtful work. Your mind can be exploring other things. Brick, mortar, brick, mortar, brick, mortar, repeat… Or – mortar, mortar, mortar, brick, brick, brick… Thoughts and ideas come and go. Worries, too. Some are considered and rejected like misbegotten bricks too broken or misshaped to fit the allotted place. II I once lived in an old brick house in an old brick city. Almost everything was laid brick as far as you could see. Think of all the thoughts and worries sealed up in the mortar and the brickwork. Plans made or discarded. Acres, no, miles of bricks and thoughts and worries all laid out in rows. My brick house was over 100 years old. It was an honest house built to last. A lot of thought went into that house. It could easily stand for 100 years more on Main Street. Built for a German family in 1904. It was solid, no frills. Modern for its day with a cistern, wood stoves. No fireplace. III This was the trolley man’s family. He drove the trolley up Main Street, many times a day. First horse drawn and later motorized (Wonder of wonders!) He probably glanced at his house at each passing – thinking, in German, no doubt, of the future and the past. His wife. His kids His good fortune. The family spoke German much of the time at home. On Sunday they went to the German Evangelical Church and worshipped, also, in German. The school was four doors down the street where the kids spoke English. They were a bit rambunctious. Their initials are still carved on the cellar joists. Ah, immortality! The old man stayed with the trolley company. He liked doing some mechanic work when needed. He bought an automobile, a "machine", and built a sturdy garage for it off the back alley. His wife made room for it among the sweet peas and the grapes. It was a good life. He smoked his cigars, had some wine, read books. IV My tenure in the house came much later. Even those kids had likely turned to dust. In all those years there were only three owners. I moved on so now another young family lives there, with a baby. Living alone, I can remember on quiet nights, reading in the old parlor, I would sometimes be aware of a faint hint of the trolley man’s cigar. The trolley man might still be there - bound up somehow in the old bricks and mortar. If he's a happy spirit I would not be surprised. He has a new family. Somethings change but somethings never do. Some months before I moved away, a city crew was digging in the street by the house and found relics of the old trolley line.              *     *     *  

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