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Archive for Thursday, February 18, 1999

CHAMPION BRICKLAYER BUILT BALDWIN STREETS

February 18, 1999

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"Lift Baldwin out of the mud" went the 1925 campaign slogan to pave Baldwin's streets with brick.

And having sold the idea, then-Mayor Sam Deel found the man who would make it a reality, seemingly with his own two, inner-tube-wrapped hands.

The story of how James Garfield Brown was given the job of bricking Baldwin's streets is documented in Baldwin historical documents and repeated by locals who need little excuse to recount the colorful tale:

Brown, an American Indian, was part of a work crew laying a brick road linking Olathe and Rosedale on the western edge of Kansas City.

As the road neared completion, Brown's exploits became the talk of the project as he continually bested his own records, laying more and more bricks each day. He was a gifted man in a much-needed occupation.

But in order to have a champion, one must have a challenger.

In stepped Frank Hoffman, whose El Dorado backers claimed could best Brown.

He couldn't.

When the contest ended Brown had emerged a clear winner -- at the end of the day he was standing 416 feet and 46,644 bricks from where his morning had started.

For his efforts Brown walked away with $200 for the win, $15 in standard brick-layer pay and a medal from a local jewelry store declaring him the Midwest champion.

It also earned him the admiration of Mayor Deel and, through him, another 11 months of work.

-- Kendrick Blackwood's phone message number is 832-7221. His e-mail address is kblackwood@ljworld.com.

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