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Column:Odds & Ends

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Harry McCawley | The Republic 
More than 6,000 inscribed bricks are placed on Washington Street for the city%u2019s Streetscape project.
Harry McCawley | The Republic More than 6,000 inscribed bricks are placed on Washington Street for the city%u2019s Streetscape project.

Some stories beget other stories, as evidenced by responses to three recent columns.

Following up on Tuesday’s article about former Community Development Director Sherry Stark and her role in the placement of more than 6,000 inscribed bricks on Washington Street sidewalks in the 1990s, a reader emailed a problem that has been troubling him for almost five years.

He can’t find his children’s bricks.

That’s not an unusual problem since there apparently was not a directory created when the Streetscape bricks were put in place, and over the past 20 years or so a lot of people have spent a lot of time walking up and down both sides of Washington Street in search of their bricks.

The lost bricks mentioned in the email, however, are in a different category. They were originally put in place in front of The Commons, and the writer and his family were able to not only locate them but remember where they were.

That status changed in 2008 when demolition of the old Commons got underway in preparation for construction of the new Commons. Contractors and planners were well aware of the importance of those personalized bricks and took steps to ensure that none got lost along the way.

“They were all photographed before we pulled them up,” said David Doup of Taylor Bros. “It was always our intention to replace them, but there was no way that we could guarantee they would be put back in the same place.”

Complicating matters somewhat was a program that offered people who might have missed out on the original adopt-a-brick campaign a chance to order a named brick and have it placed on the sidewalk in front of or alongside the new Commons.

Planners were prepared. Architect Steve Risting not only had photos of all The Commons bricks, but has a chart where each was put in the new location.

The reader and Steve were put in touch with each other, and hopefully his children will be reunited with their bricks.

Feeding hungry children

Talk about your plans coming together ...

Back on July 30 I wrote a piece about plans for the second annual Feed My Starving Children project, which was to be conducted last weekend at Asbury United Methodist Church.

The idea at that time was to repeat the efforts of the previous year and even better the number of meals (100,000) that had been assembled by scores of local volunteers for distribution to starving families in underdeveloped countries around the world.

The food had been delivered to the church, and volunteers were to pack the materials into bags using an assembly line process. That idea worked so well last year that the same process was to be repeated this year.

Plans as of July 30 were to have four shifts of workers. Turns out there were so many volunteers that a fifth shift had to be added.

“We had one shift on Friday night and four more throughout the day Saturday,” said volunteer Ken Whipker. “There were about 600 people in all who participated, and we had quite a few who had to be put on a waiting list. We had to quit because we ran out of food.”

The group did set a new record to be broken in 2014. “Our goal was 116,000 meals,” said Candy Spiker, one of the event coordinators. “Our actual total was 122,256 meals.”

Another shot

I will be the first to admit that Frank Jerome’s story about the cannonball that was fired at an ancestor’s laundry kettle during the War of 1812 was a bit off the wall.

It was a story that the Columbus dentist and City Council member had heard from childhood when his family lived in Lakewood, Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie.

According to family legend the ancestor, a woman named Sarah Rockwell, and her family lived in a log cabin at a place called Ashtabula Harbor at the height of the War of 1812. The British had established a naval presence on the Great Lakes, and one of their ships was apparently maneuvering offshore just as Sarah was doing her laundry at the beach along the lake.

She returned to her cabin for the noonday meal, but during the lunch she heard reports of cannon fire and upon returning to the beach, noticed a change in the terrain. Running through the sand alongside the kettle were deep furrows. One of them ended near the kettle, and she dug through the sand to uncover a small cannonball.

Unfortunately, there was no hard evidence to prove the story, at least not until Frank had made a connection with a cousin through During a phone conversation in which both men shared their family backgrounds, Frank mentioned the story of the cannonball.

His cousin surprised him by remarking that he not only had known about the story, but he had the cannonball.

I thought the story might have ended when Frank was given an opportunity to handle the baseball-sized projectile when he met his cousin in Louisville recently. It didn’t. Several weeks after the column appeared, I received an email from David Wallace who lives in Erie, Pa.

He had come across the column on the Internet and wanted more information on the incident. It turns out that he had been researching the War of 1812 and British activities on Lake Erie at the time of Sarah Rockwell’s encounter with the British cannonball.

“The Royal Provincial Marine (the British naval unit) is known to have harassed American settlements on the south shore (of Lake Erie)” he wrote. “With this example, I can show a pattern.”

I forwarded David’s email to Frank as another piece of evidence that Frank’s childhood tale really was true.

Harry McCawley is associate editor of The Republic. He can be reached by phone at 379-5620 or email at

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