Editor’s Notebook column
By Rick Palsgrove
It is just an old brick, a piece of fired clay, but it seems to mean more.
I have a fondness for the historical architecture in Groveport and Canal Winchester, particularly the old brick churches in both towns as well as Groveport Town Hall and the old Canal Winchester school on Washington Street and Groveport Elementary on Main Street. These buildings represent the past, present and future. They endure, they remain, they live.
One day I was standing on the sidewalk looking at Groveport United Methodist Church, built in 1908 and located at College and Main streets, and found my eyes focusing on a single random brick in the church’s bell tower exterior wall. There’s nothing special about this brick. It is a brick similar to the thousands of other cranberry red bricks that make up the church.
But that one brick set me to thinking about the brick mason who put that brick in place in 1908. That brick has been in that spot high in the bell tower’s outside wall since it left that mason’s hand and nestled into the mortar. Who was the brick mason who put it there? What did he think as he put that brick in place? Was he already thinking about putting the next brick in place? How was he feeling that day? Was it a hot day? Was it a cold day? Was it rainy? Did he think this brick would be a part of a church that would still be standing and functioning more than a century later?
What was the brick mason thinking about that day he put that brick in place? Politics? Baseball? Lunch? What he would do when he got home? Was it just a job to him or did he enjoy his craftsmanship? Was he happy, sad, or tired?
Did he pause from his high perch, while laying brick in the bell tower wall, to look around at the town and people below? What did he see has he peered down? He saw unpaved streets, homes, small shops, and horse drawn wagons. To him, 1908 was a modern, dynamic time, while to us in 2016 it is the shadowy past.
The moment he put that brick in place it stayed there and it has been there ever since. Unlike the brick mason, the brick does not think. It does not feel. But like the brick mason, the brick abides, it does its job. The permanence of the brick is a testament to the brick mason’s skill and to the long vitality of the church that has kept the building functioning in the community these many years.
That brick is still here. The brick mason who placed it there is not.That brick will still be here when we living today are not.
We will never be able to look into the eyes of this brick mason, nor he in ours. He is gone and we ourselves are here for just a while longer.
But the brick remains.
Rick Palsgrove is editor of the Southeast Messenger.