Once you grab a sledgehammer, it’s hard to put it down.
What began as a mild demolition of the interior of the Horse Garage at our storefront blossomed/became infected. Now I am neck-deep in a major construction project that requires all my skills, most of my time and nearly everything in my bank account.
The reward, however, will be that I’ll have a place for the few machines I own, and they’ll be steps away from my bench room. Also, the butt-end of our property will look a lot more like it did the day in 1906 that they constructed the garage behind the store.
In addition to time, money and muscle, this project requires the cooperation of the City of Covington. We’re in an historical overlay district. Luckily, city officials here are helpful and supportive. I’ve yet to encounter an unreasonable roadblock. But you do have to submit paperwork. Lots of it. And I don’t like paperwork.
Today we proposed our changes and backed them up with archaeological evidence, drawings and a fully signed and dated form. If this gets approved, then I will be on a fast track to build four huge doors, assist in installing a new membrane roof and weatherproof the building before winter arrives.
I’m optimistic. Not only because of the huge carrot dangling in front of me – a nice room for machines – but because of the help of the local Latin American community. The restoration of Covington is being built with the backs of the immigrant laborers, and my building is no different. While I’m on the roof and lifting concrete blocks every dang day, this job would be a nightmare without the help of Manuel, Hugo and a number of other strong backs.
I am not trying to be political here, just honest. They work as hard as I do. They push me to take on as much as I can manage. And they do it all with a laugh and a smile.
As we lift these 50-lb. blocks up into place I can think only of my great-grandparents on the Schwarz side. According to my grandfather, they arrived in the Dakotas from Germany in the early part of the 20th century and were put to work making bricks. They saved enough to move to St. Louis and buy a boarding house. My grandfather was a paper salesman and freelance photographer. My father was the first Schwarz to go to college and became a physician.
And now I’m back to the bricks.
Circular irony aside, it feels damn good.
— Christopher Schwarz