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Bricks, the Next Chapter

When I began paving our 1,500-foot driveway with bricks in 1994, I calculated that it would take 60,000 bricks and the rest of my life to complete it. Not only did I finish it, but noting that I was still alive, I used another 30,000 bricks to pave the garage apron and the vehicle circle in front of the house.

All by hand, nearly all with free bricks salvaged from demolition sites, all by my singular labor. All that deserves mention, anyway.

But now, like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Great Wall of China, my brick driveway is nothing more than one of those miraculous engineering feats of the ho-hum musty past.

Last year I shook the dust off my brick-laying hiatus (which I had stored in my hiatus closet) and paved the ramp in front of our farm’s barn with bricks. That proved a nice warm-up for my current project, which is laying brick on the driveway leading to the garage apartment.

THE IMPETUS for this project was the proverbial Return of the Prodigal Son, AKA Worshrag moving back home.

It wasn’t many months after Worsh came home that the coronavirus lockdown occurred and he was laid off from the Pittsburgh gym where he had started working. Even before that event, Honey had pronounced it necessary that our son have his own residence, and that we should install him in the garage apartment.

I have one of those garages that accidentally grew up to be a house. We built it in 1992. When the concrete block walls for the garage went up, Honey said, “You know, it would be a shame not to use that foundation to put another story on,” and so I did.

And when it was framed-in and roofed, Honey said, “You know, that big space really ought to be partitioned off into rooms,” and so I did.

And when it was partitioned off, Honey said, “It’s so nice, it could be easily be made into an apartment in case one of our mothers needs it someday,” and so I finished it with windows and doors, drywall, trim, paint and flooring, kitchen and bathroom. We had a well drilled, a separate septic system and electric service put in, and I installed plumbing and built a big deck in back.

When all that was done, recognizing that like all houses in West Virginia, this one is built into the hillside, Honey said, “We can’t expect our mothers to walk up steps to the apartment. We have to have a driveway going up there.” So our family excavator graded a separate road up to the level of the apartment and paved it with about 60 tons of slag.

As it turned out, our mothers never needed the apartment, but crusty, lovable Sweetland, my favorite uncle, did, and so Uncle Sweetland moved in and was our next-door neighbor for eight years.

When eldest son Seed and Miss T got married, however, they needed a place to go to housekeeping. As much as we loved him, we evicted Uncle Sweetland, ticking him off royally.

Seed and I later built a house for them, and so for the last 10 years the garage apartment has been unoccupied, and gradually filled up with junk.

THIS STORY STARTED OUT to be about bricking the driveway to our garage apartment, so I’d better skip over how hard we worked to clean it out and make it habitable again, including installing a new water heater and spending $7,000 for ductwork and new heat pump and air conditioning unit.

The driveway had grassed in over the years, but with Seed living there the ruts have worn down to the original slag again, so I’m paving them with bricks so he won’t have any trouble with traction this winter. I’ve laid 1,270 bricks and am half done.

These particular bricks came from the demolition of the building on Dresden Avenue that once housed Orlando’s Pizza, so I call this the Orlando’s Pizza Extension.

Did I mention Worshrag has a girlfriend?

Well, that about brings us up to date. Ta-ta for now, and stay tuned.

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