Genealogists often talk about hitting a brick wall when researching an ancestor’s history — or breaking through a brick wall when a crucial family history detail is discovered.
So, imagine my surprise when fellow blogger Alana (of Ramblin’ with AM) sent word through Molly’s Canopy that I could get a piece of my own personal brick wall from my teen years:
Oct. 21, 2022. Molly, this comment [is about] your 2021 A to Z series on growing up in Endwell, N.Y. I live in the Triple Cities. You may already know this, but the IBM Country Club is going to be torn down in the next few weeks. Broome County et al. is working to put together a “Get a Brick” day for people seeking to keep a piece of the historic Crocker Homestead. Just FYI.
Memento of my hometown’s heyday
Wow, the demolition of the IBM Country Club would mark the end of an era – the final symbolic cap on the boom days of a company founded in Endicott, N.Y., in 1920 and the major area employer during my teens in the 1960s.
The country club also had local history at its core. It was constructed around the original Crocker Homestead, built in 1799, after IBM purchased the property in 1931. The company added swimming pools, recreation rooms and beautifully manicured grounds.
My dad worked at GE, so I had mixed feelings as a teen about the IBM Country Club since I could only go as a guest. Still, I could not pass up a chance to get a landmark brick — a tangible memento of my hometown’s heyday. So, I responded to Alana right away:
Oct. 26, 2022. Thanks so much for getting in touch about the free IBM Country Club bricks! I see there will be a “Get a Brick” day organized at some point. Can you please let me know if you see more about it? I’d love to have a brick when the time comes.
A glittering yet inaccessible jewel
In a blog series on Endwell: My Early Teen Years, which Alana referenced, I wrote a post on the IBM Country Club and the great divide about social divisions that emerged during my teens. One of the biggest divides was between those who had or didn’t have an IBM Country Club membership.
To non-members like me, the country club existed behind a brick wall where it seemed like a glittering yet inaccessible jewel. As it turned out, the jewel was not genuine
When IBM pulled out of Endicott during the de-industrialization wave of the 1980s, support for the country club went with it. By the 1990s, the IBM Country Club had closed its doors for good and, without a buyer, remained vacant and vandalized for years.
Lacking preservation funds to at least save the Crocker Homestead, the decision was made to demolish the entire facility to make way for housing. And that’s how I came into possession of an IBM Country Club brick — a bittersweet token of Endwell’s disappearing halcyon days.
How do you mail a brick?
Alana got back in touch once the IBM “Get a Brick” day was announced — and she got there in time to rescue a few bricks.
Nov. 17, 2022. I found out about the IBM Country Club brick giveaway – an hour after it started!…So my husband and I ran up there, got a brick for each of us and one for you (if you still want it)…Each brick weighs around five pounds. They are a bit fragile – I got clay dust all over my coat just handling it. So I don’t know how fragile it is or what would be involved in mailing it to you.
She also emailed me a newsclip about the brick giveaway and said a steady stream of nostalgic folks had turned out for it. Of course, I responded immediately!
Nov. 17, 2022. Wow! Thanks for getting this for me. Yes, I still want it 🙂 My sister recently retired from the Post Office. Let me consult with her about the best way to ship this and get back to you. Of course, I will pay whatever costs are involved once we figure this out. Will email again soon. So excited!
My sister Amy provided expert instructions on how to pack and mail the brick. She recommended sending it after the holiday season — and on New Year’s Eve my IBM Country Club brick arrived! I emailed Alana to let her know before posting a check for the costs.
Dec. 31, 2022. Wanted to let you know that the IBM brick has arrived, and in perfect condition! Excellent packing — and USPS did well, too, as the box was in mint condition, too…This has been a fun experience, and I can’t thank you enough for letting me know about the brick giveaway, getting a brick for me and sending it along.
Ancestral brick collection
My IBM Country Club brick now sits proudly in its display stand — where it conjures up all sorts of memories of my Endwell, N.Y., hometown whenever I look at it.
It joins my other ancestral brick, which was manufactured at my maternal great-great grandfather Andrew Stoutner’s brick works in Gloversville, N.Y.
And while the IBM brick doesn’t have the same ancestral connection, it’s still part of my own history — and that makes it family. Heartfelt thanks to Alana for reaching out and making it happen! Please stop by and visit her at Ramblin’ with AM.
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