ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The first time David Krause saw the red bricks that are now piled in the city of Hillsboro’s maintenance area, they were being laid one by one along Main Street.
Eighty-one years later, he’s helping to prepare them for their second use: a half-mile walking path to be constructed in and around Memorial Park.
“I never dreamed that I’d ever see them again like that,” said Krause, now 89.
Krause was a spectator for that first project in 1922, but not for the new one. For the next two weeks, he plans to donate three hours every morning to the task of cleaning and stacking the old bricks.
“He came to me and asked if he could volunteer some time,” said Martin Rhodes, city building inspector, who is spearheading the Memorial Park project.
“I said, ‘Absolutely.’ I got him some pallets and put him to work.”
Krause, who grew up in the rural Ebenfeld community southeast of Hillsboro, was 8 years old when he saw the bricks being laid on Main Street.
“About once a month I’d get to town,” Krause said. “Several times I saw a black fella lay these bricks.”
Archival photos of the paving project depict the muscular African American man who laid the countless rows of bricks over a 12-block area.
According to written accounts, local teens were hired to shuttle the bricks to the man, whose name is not recorded.
“The only thing I know about him is that he was black,” Krause said. “I was pretty young back then.”
Krause graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1934 and took on janitorial duties at the Marion County Courthouse shortly after that.
In 1937, he was married to Alice Prieb. In the ensuing years, the couple lived and worked in Hillsboro, Texas, California and western Colorado and raised five children along the way.
Krause said he and his wife retired and moved back to the area in 1979, finding a home in Lehigh. Alice died in 2000.
For the past two years, Krause has been living in Grand Oaks Apartments on West Grand-only a block east of where he and Alice lived from 1940 to 1954.
“I never dreamed at that time that I’d live that close again,” he said.
Volunteering is no new thing for Krause.
“I’ve done volunteer work for close to 30 years-(as a) carpenter and plumber,” he said. “Believe it or not, I canned 450 quarts of fruits and vegetable every year in western Colorado. Gave it away, most of it.”
For this project, Krause drives a motorized three-wheeler from his apartment on West Grand to the mountain of bricks situated near the west end of the city’s maintenance area on Adams Street.
His job is to use a hammer to knock off the dirt, concrete or asphalt that is sticking to the bricks, then stack the bricks on a pallet for transport.
“It comes off very easily,” he said of the unwanted materials. “If there’s too much on all sides, I don’t use them. About half of of the bricks are usable.
The walkway project will require about 70,000 to 80,000 bricks, Rhodes has estimated.
Krause said he “very definitely” liked the idea of having a walking path at Memorial Park. He tries to walk at least two miles every day as part of his health regime.
“Eat right, exercise right, live right-that’s my motto,” Krause said.
He fully intends to make use of the walking path when it is completed.
“I think I’ll live that long,” Krause said with a chuckle. “I aim to live to at least 92.”
Rhodes said he was surprised and pleased to receive Krause’s offer to help, and would welcome more volunteers to expedite the project. Otherwise, city employees will need to clean the bricks.
Persons interested in volunteering can call the city office, Rhodes said.
In the meantime, Krause will continue his lone vigil at the base of “Brick Mountain.”
“I won’t run out of work,” he said.