What can a $720M mobility bond buy? A new sidewalk and a lot of laughter
Appreciating the folks whose work making bricks or laying concrete lives on longer than their names. (Unless you're William Maufrais.)
Just last weekend, I was camping with a group of women, and one of the new friends mentioned that she was from D’Hanis, about 50 miles west of San Antonio.
If you live in Texas, you know the name D’Hanis because the town name is imprinted on millions and millions of bricks that have built school buildings and courthouses and the very brick patio we were standing on when this friend and I first met. (These bricks are everywhere, I tell you. Once you start looking for them, you’ll see…)
She grew up not far from the D'Hanis Brick & Tile Company, open since 1905, where men, mostly Mexican-Americans by the time she was growing up, made all those bricks day after day.
She remembers the bell that rang to start and end the day and signaled for lunch.
The rhythm and rituals of brick-making continue in D’Hanis and Elgin, the “Brick Capital of the Southwest.” This town 25 miles east of Austin is home to three major brick manufacturing companies, which produce 267 million bricks annually.
These are just some of the names you’ll see again and again if you keep an eye out.
I was thinking about these bricks and the people who made them last month as my soon-to-be-husband and I looked out over a concrete truck churning out a river of finely crushed rocks, as a team of three men rushed to spread it with shovels, standing ankle deep in a sea of cement.
By lunchtime, they’d poured and perfectly smoothed the entire driveway. It would be dry enough to park on the following day.
We were in awe. Just digging out the old gravel driveway and setting up the rebar and wood mold would have taken us a year, we figured.
For months, this small team had been working all along our street to pour a new sidewalk that is part of a $720 million mobility bond that passed in 2016 to bring older streets like ours up to code.
In the weeks leading up to the backyard wedding, the construction crew got closer and closer.
Four days before the event, we got a knock on the door. The construction manager in the nice shoes was here to finally fill us in on the details of the build.