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23/365 - A Focus on Lines, Spaces & Walls - #2

2011.01.23
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Brick walls are hard to make & harder to tear down.
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My Grandfather Peter was a stone mason by trade when he came to America from Italy in the 1920’s. I often had the opportunity to work with him as a youngster as he built walls for people when he was not working in a coal mine.

He built cut stone walls as well as brick and mortar walls. As an unskilled, tag along helper, I carried rocks or bricks, depending on the wall being built.

I worked harder when he built brick walls. He slapped down the mortar, hit it with his trowel and he expected the next brick to be there, ready for his hand to grab, set and tap into perfect alignment along every plane Busy, busy all the time. Always another brick to lay.

His brick walls were square, straight and the mortar joints were perfect. His brick walls kept inside what needed to be kept inside and they kept outside what needed to be kept outside. They took much planning, calculating, aligning, moving, carrying and straightening.

They were his creations based upon math and measures and calculations he did not know how to compute. He could not read – but he was a designer, builder and engineer! A blueprint on paper was useless to him, but the one in his head was more precise and useful.

Lesson Learned:

Brilliance and skill can be achieved by walking different roads. Some roads require spending money and getting degrees. Some roads involve time, sweat and labor. Equally valuable outcomes can be achieved regardless of the roads taken.
27 Comments
Marzijapan Hi Dan, never a truer word spoken. One example for me is my daughters drawings, she has drew pictures all her life and got better and better at it, then you go somewhere like the art gallery and see great works of art there too, and some maybe not so great, I have to wonder sometimes why they call some things art. Interesting story, I can see you as a little boy struggling to keep up now :)
Marzijapan · 2011-01-22: 19:48
atszabo Oh, so now you tell me you have Italian blood running in your veins? That explains a lot...
atszabo · 2011-01-22: 20:15
????? Good post Dan. I used to argue that with some family members, who felt that a college degree was the only way to go. I agree that doing something "constructive" and especially helping other people, is more important than a diploma.
????? · 2011-01-22: 20:19
karmankwarner What a beautiful post. It goes back to what I use to hear as a child, "We are all great at something, we just have to find that something we are great at". Your grandpa sounds like a blessed man.
karmankwarner · 2011-01-22: 20:32
promise I love the simplicity of this neat shot.
promise · 2011-01-22: 20:42
????? Another fantastic set Dan! And I love the lesson learned. I agree completely. I have a college degree that I don't even use. And I doubt I ever will.
????? · 2011-01-22: 20:59
leocheung Inspirational post.
leocheung · 2011-01-22: 21:05
photodeclair i cant anderstand all you say but i m sure it s nice !
photodeclair · 2011-01-22: 21:15
joycephotography Nice.
joycephotography · 2011-01-22: 21:33
DancingDolphin I'm always impressed watching a mason at work... craftsmen take a lot of pride in their work, and well they should! Great post, Dan.
DancingDolphin · 2011-01-22: 21:49
NellyBly You are into posting walls :-) Very interesting story..I can just see it now. One thing to add to the last sentence..one is fortunate to have the brains to work it out without a formal education. :-)
NellyBly · 2011-01-22: 21:52
mrmeliska Great simple photo!!!
mrmeliska · 2011-01-22: 22:26
honzicek nice!
honzicek · 2011-01-22: 22:47
Smittie62 Very well said Dan. This one strikes me in a personal way also. I just shared a story last year with some school children talking about the brickmasons I used to watch as a kid. These guys were hard working and well respected for their work. Even though most of them didn't have any formal education, they were true craftsmen and masters of their trade. I used to watch them for hours throw bricks to each other while they build their walls. Their trowels were like surgical instruments. One minute they were spreading mortar with it, the next they were splitting a brick. Even to this day, every time I see an interesting brick pattern, I usually take a picture of it.
Smittie62 · 2011-01-23: 01:51
cariad So true Dan - without craftsmen and those who work with their hands the world would be a duller place, and yet the value we place on them is never quite as high as those who think for a living.... it worries me that the education systems place so much emphasis on climbing the academic ladder and forget a world without brick walls would be a cold place to live
cariad · 2011-01-23: 05:02
jokershadow nice and instructive story if you want to be some one you like you must choose the best road no matter what people think and say you live for yourself choose the road which fits you best!
jokershadow · 2011-01-23: 05:06
JumiElla True life...
JumiElla · 2011-01-23: 06:50
lyricalthoughts Thanks for sharing your story Dan. I get to know you better! Those kind of jobs really struck me because for me they are amazing!:) Your grandpa is the same as my dad. My dad did not study college and did not finish high school due to financial reasons yet he is so good in his electric job today fixing stuffs.. even better than those who graduated on that. For me, our success depends on our hardwork and how passionate we are on what we do. It might be two different roads as you have mentioned but it is never easy. I am struggling at it sometime now.. but i think i can manage. Thank you so much for the inspiring post! Keep it up!:)
lyricalthoughts · 2011-01-23: 08:19
elkinsphotos LOVE THE TEXTURE
elkinsphotos · 2011-01-23: 09:09
cameraCAPTURED Dan, the wonderful photo-philosopher---I believe the conclusion to the lesson learned is that no one man is better than another on this earth, just different, each with their own special gifts and talents. I may be able to diagnose and treat a clinical depression with the right medicine, but could never put bricks together with mortar and build a damned thing. School adjourned for today!!
cameraCAPTURED · 2011-01-23: 10:57
miguelcruz Dan, no estaría mal editar un pequeño (gran) libro con sus lecciones para todos los del PB y aquellos que tengan la fortuna de leer estos post geniales, amigo mío. Gracias cada día por su generosidad que a nadie deja indiferente. Su foto, es realmente una pintura contemporánea...
miguelcruz · 2011-01-23: 14:04
djnana I see that everyone has told you their stories. I guess I'll join in...my dad was a home builder who was so meticulous with what he did and how he did it - much like your grandfather. Artisans and craftsmen don't exist on the same plane any longer - money and results seem to be more important than the quality of the work. Even though Daddy loved what he did, he always wanted to be a farmer, living off the land and enjoying his surroundings. God didn't bless that, but gave him another direction which was the mark of his life. I'm so proud of what he did - and all that still stands as a reminder of what he built. He would have loved your perfectly square corners!!!
djnana · 2011-01-23: 14:55
threepeas I like your story and lesson...oh, and nice pic too! :)
threepeas · 2011-01-23: 14:58
Annabelle33 Great shot, and love the personal story and completely agree with your conclusion!
Annabelle33 · 2011-01-23: 15:32
Kozuka Very interesting! :)
Kozuka · 2011-01-23: 20:27
????? awesome awesome
????? · 2011-01-23: 21:34
helys Yès, good focus
The details and colours are neat :))
helys · 2011-02-01: 21:10
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