you probably won’t be surprised to learn that there is an association devoted to collecting bricks.
the international brick collectors association (“a place where you’ll meet the nicest people”–so says its website) is 500 members strong. to be honest, although i am the owner of a brick (a beautiful, pristine example of an early 20th century coffeyville, kansas brick–at one time from around 1900 to 1920 brick makers in the coffeyville area produced over 3/4s of a million bricks a day) it never occurred to me that there might be a group of people who collect bricks, an international group no less, and that they have found each other and come together once a year to swap bricks–there is no selling allowed among members. although i will probably never join the IBCA, knowing that it exists makes me happy.
because i believe in collecting. from the lowliest object (a brick, for instance) to the loftiest (a titian painting, let’s say, if for no other reason than for his handling of clouds in the sky) there is nothing that is more stimulating and interesting than having a collection of things (for, like george carlin said, “it’s your stuff,”) is there?
i’ve been carting around a collection of rocks that my mother and i had started putting together back when a rock seemed like a good thing (it was free) to own. they were pretty and interesting to look at, a decorative addition to a flower bed or a window sill; some with their mica and silicate sparkling in the sunshine of a south dakota summer/winter/fall/spring. when i moved away from home, my mother and step-father continued the collection and moved it across the country when they retired.
one day, when he came to visit m. & i in chicago after my mother had died, he opened the back of the pick-up and there was the rock collection. so then we owned it and when we moved to maui, that’s right, we packed them up and moved them with us. you should have seen the look on the moving people’s faces when we insisted they build a crate for the 75 lb. piece of rose quartz we have, priceless. and we brought them back from maui with us, along with some rocks we’d picked up along the way while we traveled.
they now spend their golden years scattered among the orchids and the roses, propping up a planter (such as the ‘domestic’ cornerstone that my mother found in biloxi, mississippi and convinced a stranger, a construction worker engaged in demolishing the local school where this piece came from, to ship it to our home in south dakota. he did it, for free, of course, such was the power of my mother) or glittering against a rain spout at our home in california.
of course, we collect other things too: paintings, prints, photographs, art pottery, books, cobwebs, and puppies. and i’m glad we do. it makes our world a lovely place to visit. you should stop by sometime (call first, okay?)