Commemorative bricks are fundraisers, but they’re also a great way to preserve and share a little slice of history. Because these clay slabs are usually part of a group for a walkway or plaza, more history can get shared with other people than on a stone in a cemetery. We always check out the engravings around the ones we came to see.
Lack of space is the only drawback, but that forces you to condense someone’s history to its essence.
Iowa State Fair
Son Dan won the Iowa State Fair Spelling Bee in 1986. He won a two-volume dictionary, which we had to tote around and haul home. When the State Fair started offering commemorative bricks as a way to raise money to help refurbish historic buildings on the fairgrounds, we bought one to remember his triumph during his eleventh summer.
Sis Gloria and I had enjoyed being part of the Bill Riley Talent Scouts during our high school years. When he retired, the stage was renamed the Anne and Bill Riley Stage, and a plaza of bricks started in front. Mom got one for each of us.
Gold Star Museum, Camp Dodge
When the old Gold Star Museum was bursting at the seams, commemorative bricks helped raise money for the new one. As you enter the new museum, a wall of bricks is right ahead of you. The bricks donated by our family are in the second panel to the right from the library door.
The Wilson brothers are across the top of the picture–not in order of age, but I’m probably the only one it bothered. I was thankful they were all in one row. YKTNCV5 (Yorktown CV-5) and CV19 (Hancock CV-19) are the carriers Donald Wilson served on in combat. Navy men understand it.
Guy’s brick is on the left, two down from Daniel Wilson.
Dad’s is in the lower left.
Carrie Chapman Catt Hall
A fundraiser for refurbishing a hall at Iowa State University called for people to honor the women in their own families. The Carrie Chapman Catt Hall and Plaza of Heroines was celebrated in 1995, with speakers and a nice meal. Mom and Aunt Darlene went to the dedication with Gloria and me. They also collected a story about each woman, which are available online.
Laura Jordan Goff–honored by her six granddaughters–Doris Wilson Neal, Darlene Wilson Scar, Maxine Goff Allgood, Connie Goff Elston, Shirley Bittner and Phyllis Goff Lopez.
Leora Goff Wilson–honored by daughters, Doris and Darlene, written by her oldest granddaughter.
Darlene Wilson Scar–honored by her four sons.
Doris Wilson Neal–honored by her daughters, essay written by her favorite (and only) grandson.
Gloria Neal–honored by her sister.
Joy Neal Kidney–honored by her mother and sister.
Carrie Chapman Catt Girlhood Home
Mom and Dad both loved playing basketball in the old Community Building, AKA “Roundhouse,” and both graduated from Dexter High School there. Dad’s grandfather, O.S. Neal, was on the building committee for the handsome building, dedicated in 1916.
The stories from my mother’s vivid memories began when she was a preschooler in Stuart, Iowa. When the Stuart Depot started raising money to refurbish the old depot, Mom bought her own brick.
Twin siblings, Dale and Darlene Wilson, were born in the “Chittick house” in the town of Stuart.
Not long after the twins were born, their father Clabe Wilson became Stuart’s nightwatchman after the one before was killed in a bank-robbery attempt.
Danny Wilson was born in the Chittick house two years later.
Guthrie County Veterans Memorial Wall
Guthrie County will have a display of those who’ve served in the military. I’ve ordered commemorative bricks for the three Goff brothers, who served in WWI–Merl, Jennings, and Wayne.
For Merrill Goff, son of Jennings, who served as a Marine in combat in WWII.
And for all five Wilson brothers. Delbert, Donald, Dale, and Danny were born in Guthrie County. Their mother, Leora (Goff) Wilson lived in Guthrie County for decades–before and after World War II. Having lost three sons during the war, Leora was a Guthrie Center Gold Star Mother the last decades of her life.
Do you know of commemorative bricks near where you live?