Love Me Some Groesbeck Reds!
I’ve always loved old bricks. I tore down several walls of abandoned buildings as a teenager in College Station. I used an old axe to knock mortar off the sides of the bricks, and my dad and I used the bricks in projects around our house. I’m not sure whether I enjoyed the bricks more or working with my dad. Both were highlights.
My aunt lived in Garland, and several times every year back in the 50’s and 60’s we’d drive up Highway 6 to Highway 14 just north of Calvert and north to Dallas. Dad and Mom in the front seat. Young Neil in the back. The trip took us through Mexia and Groesbeck and onto Loop 12 in Dallas, years before I-635.
As we passed through Groesbeck my dad would tell me about “Groesbeck Reds,” those old red bricks he knew I loved. “They were made right here, Neil.” I thought that was cool, but I never thought to ask that we search out the plant where they were made.
Jump ahead to 1976. My wife and I had decided to build a house in rural Collin County. She’s an Ohioan originally, but she liked the old Groesbeck Reds just as much as I did.
Somehow I found out that an old Safeway store on Loop 12 Buckner Blvd. in South Dallas was about to be torn down. I went out and looked, and sure enough – it was all Groesbeck Reds. I bought the north wall of that store, and on Thanksgiving Day 1976 the bricks were delivered to our home site. Our house was finished 10 months later.
A couple of years ago, while passing through Groesbeck, we decided to look for the plant. Surely someone in town would be able to direct us to where it had been, or so we thought. I searched for information on the Web as Lynn drove south toward Groesbeck, but there was almost nothing to be found. The young people working at the convenience stores late that summer evening didn’t know, either. So I put my hunt on the shelf.
Enter my Facebook family of 62,000 best friends a month ago. I asked for help, and help came from everywhere. I had no idea so many people would know. Special thanks to Susan Douthit and Amy Plummer for their very great input and photos.
A little bit of the history of Groesbeck Red bricks…
The plant opened just about 100 years ago. It was on the north side of town, just a few blocks east of Highway 14 (where my folks and I passed by so many times) just off Grayson Street. I even had the daughter of the plant manager post on my Facebook page. That was really memorable.
There is a small lake on the site now, as you can see from the Google Earth images sent to me by Susan Douthit. Her mother lived nearby. The lake developed when the digging equipment hit a spring on the property. The ensuing flow caused the pit to flood and the plant to shut down soon thereafter. So the last bricks in Groesbeck were apparently made around 1938.
The company moved north to Palmer where the bricks came to be known as “Palmer Pinks” due to a lighter color of clay. Those names were actually stamped into the bricks. Other cities around North and Northeast Texas were similarly recognized.
So it’s odd enough that my mom and dad and I drove past the old plant without knowing it for all those years, but what caps it all is that we also drove up South Buckner Blvd. going to Aunt Grace’s house. I’m adopted, and I distinctly remember looking out my rear window at the Buckner Children’s Home thanking God with a tear in my eye that my mom and dad had adopted me and that I had a home filled with their love and support.
So that places me on South Buckner Blvd. all of those times. We drove right by that old Safeway store, and all I would have had to have done is look to my left and I could have seen the north wall that I would have been buying 25 years later to build a house for my family.
The Groesbeck Reds bricks you see in the photo of the wall of our house spent 40 years in a Safeway store, and they’ve now spent 40 years in our house. And we’re mighty proud to have them aboard.
Isn’t life wonderful! Especially when you finally can put all the pieces together.