This is the story of me,
A brick to be used in so many ways,
Where the makers of bricks in the yards of Virginia,
Mould clay to brick in very many days.
It has been a long journey so far for a brick like me, from the brickyards of Virginia to a construction site in the far end of the country. I was born in a brickyard in Virginia in the year 1712. Virginia was then a British colony in America and brick making was one of the main occupations of the people during that time. Brick makers were usually slaves, poor unskilled workers, and children. Before this became a popular trade, bricks were imported from Europe to be used for all the construction work.
Stomp, stomp, stomp went feet all wet,
On mud and clay in a treading pit,
Clear of leaves and stones and yet,
Brick makers mixed ’em all to make it fit.
I was molded from native Virginia clay. The clay was first collected and placed in a treading pit. Brick makers treaded heavily on the clay to mix it well with water until it was smooth. Children particularly enjoyed stomping with their bare feet. Once it became easy to work with, it was placed on a molding table. I was made from this pile of clay. I was first shaped into a loaf the size of a brick and then dusted with sand so that I would not stick to another loaf or to the table. I was then cleaned of roots, leaves, and stones and then thrown into a rectangular wooden mould.
From pit to mould and mould to bed,
On the bed I lay for a week and a day,
Rain or shine, left to dry in a shed,
For weeks that seemed years in the month of May.
I was spread firmly into the mould and the extra clay was removed by drawing a straight wooden stick from across the top of the mould. I was then removed carefully from the mould and placed in raised beds of sand for drying. I lay there for a week in the open before being taken to a drying shed. I was brought here so that once inside I am not affected by the changes in weather. Here again I lay again for six whole weeks. The children peeped in often to see how I was doing. I made a lot of friends here with fellow bricks. We all looked quite similar.
Dry as hay after sun and rain,
Stacked in a kiln for some shape and strength,
I was treated to fire again and again,
For I needed to be ready in size and length.
It was a long stay in the shed and by the end of six weeks, I was more or less dry. I was then taken for firing to a brick kiln made by my brick maker. The kiln was made by stacking previously made bricks to form four walls with five arched fire tunnels. I was stacked into this kiln along with the others of my kind. We were placed a finger width apart from each other so that the heat of the fire from the tunnels drifted upwards and reached us all uniformly.
The fires kept burning day and night,
Day and night they waited for me,
Until they said I was done just right,
Ready for a journey to a house by the sea.
Once we were all placed inside, the kiln was sealed and firewood was placed in the tunnels. The firewood was lit and we lay there in the hot kiln for six days and six nights. And boy was it hot! The brick makers stayed up to see that the fires were kept burning. By the sixth day I overheard someone say that the temperature in the kiln had reached a whopping 1850 degrees Fahrenheit!
Soon I acquired a glowing yellow color. The fires in the tunnels were allowed to bank after the seventh day and the fire tunnels were closed. The kiln was sealed again and we were left inside to cool for a week. It was only when we were unstacked and sorted that I saw how my other friends looked. Some had been fired right, some others under fired and the rest over fired. I was stacked along with those that were baked just right to be transported to places were construction was taking place. I wonder where my final destination will beÃ¢Â?Â¦ perhaps I’ll be the top most brick on the chimney of a wealthy landowner.
My story one hears,
From Mud to brick, then East to West,
Days to weeks to months to years,
I’ve come a long way before laying to rest.