Monday, August 12, 2013

Bricking in Cedar Rapids

When my brother and I travel we have to tolerate our similar but not identical idiosyncrasies.  I am interested in brewery caves and tree shaped tombstones.  He is into railroads and bricks. Interestingly other than the choo choo trains these are all forms that have remained unchanged since ancient times.

Fortunately there is sufficient overlap in these odd pursuits that we can humor each other.  Often for hours at a time.

On our recent Road Trip we did a little "bricking" in Cedar Rapids Iowa.

In almost all respects bricks are the perfect thing to collect.  They are common, but still have fabulous variety as they were a product made by thousands of small enterprises in communities all across America.  They are functional.  You could in principle keep collecting until you had enough for a house. And it is a cheap hobby.  In fact you could regard it as either positive or negative but it seems most bricks pass between collectors on a swap basis.  Maybe this de-emphasis on the "value" of things is natural since most bricks are just casually picked up off the ground.

On the negative side of collecting them, they are heavy.  Pick up truck ownership among brickers approaches 100%.  And of course the chances of your brick collection being worth a fortune some day are not good.

But it is fun to wander about as we did the other day.  It was Sunday morning and we were in an area adjacent to downtown.  It had the usual areas of tired looking houses and slow arising inhabitants.  But there were also tell tale hints of incipient "gentrification". An organic foods mart over here, a day spa over there, most tellingly I spotted a bicycle coop....

Streets were being worked on and there were piles of dirt to be examined.

Some bricks are better than others.  This is an uncommon one from Danville Illinois.

This one as it appeared peeking out of a dirt pile.  Nice, but condition was imperfect.

And some bricks are less good.  Puringtons are super common.

Behind a fence I saw that one of the construction workers must be stockpiling Puringtons.  He appears to have a good leg up on that brick house project.

With a few bricks in the trunk of the car we got ready to leave Cedar Rapids.  We tanked up at a nearby gas station.  I noted that the customers wandering in appeared to be low income sorts.  In a few years they will be gone, priced out of this end of town.  The streets now torn up will be nice and new. Young fit people on bicycles will pedal here and there.  I had a crazy notion that I should warn the current inhabitants.  "The Condos are coming.  The Condos are coming."

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