I had explored the tiny shops on the square and walked through the library. Heading back to my car I sat down on a bench and admired the spiral top of the courthouse. Stephenville is small town America and I love it.
Almost accidentally, I noticed the pavement. It wasn’t asphalt but red brick after red brick laid together to form the street. The brick covers many of the side streets around the square.
I remembered the same kind of streets in my hometown of Dalhart and I wondered about the time and care it took to place millions of bricks together to form a road. Talk about labor!
I cannot imagine how many hours it took to accomplish the task.
A lot of small towns in Texas have red brick roads and I wondered about the history and background of a company that specialized in such work. I googled my phone and according to a Texas Historical Marker, the Stephenville City Council, hoping to improve the town's dirt streets, authorized paving in 1929 by the Thurber Construction Company. High-quality bricks from Thurber, located some 26 miles to the Northwest, were used.
The bricks were laid over a Macadam base and bonded with a tar-like substance. Individual property owners bore most of the cost, despite the economic hardships of the Depression. Citizens viewed the brick thoroughfares with pride and a step toward modernization. It was an evolution toward improving the western cow town and farming community.
Can you imagine how citizens must have felt once the bricks were in place and the streets were no longer muddy, dusty tracks around the courthouse? It involved transition and change. Even in the old days Stephenville was a community in transition.
We all change. We all make transitions and adjustments. It is how God helps us grow and become a part of the plan he has in mind. I looked at the buildings around the square, meditated a minute on the road and realized I had changed over the years. Slowly and diligently I was becoming God’s handiwork. Goodness knows I needed reworked with some major adjustments. Looking back over the years I had done some stupid things. Things I’d much rather leave in my past.
There is a lot of difference in a quaint little red brick road and smooth asphalt. There is a lot of history and change involved in the bricks placed side by side over the streets of small town America. If only they could talk. What a history they could relate!
You and I have a history. It involves change and transition. We have grown, evolved and grown into something special, different and improved. We aren’t red bricks anymore. We are working toward a smooth, easy rolling, defined and refined better “US!”
Our history is one of learning to be better. It is mistake after mistake and screw up after screw up. However, the potter stands strong. His hands are sure and focused with a perfect picture in mind. I don’t have to know how he does it and I don’t have to know why and I don’t have to understand. All I know is he loves me and nothing else matters. All I know is there is a bigger picture out there and I’m part of it.
I see Erath County evolving and growing, searching and finding their niche. By the way, I think we are doing a good job. I think the potter has his hand on us.
I hope our city keeps the red brick streets. It’s a part of our history and who we are and what we have become. It also represents what we have to look forward to.
Follow the red brick road, it’s your avenue to change and accomplishing great things.
Melinda Clements is an E-T community columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.