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I had been looking forward to the brickmaking experience for a couple of years. I don't know what there is that is so satisfying about watching someone grab a hunk of wet clay and throwing it into a wooden mold. It is more gratifying to me than watching a potter make a vessel on a spinning wheel.
I told our host-guide that when we got to the brickmakers, I wanted to make a brick. She wasn't sure that it would be an opportunity offered, but if the possibility arose, she knew to put me in. Once there, of course, the chance was not offered, and at that moment it was all right, seeing as it was the hottest, most miserable day (One only has to look at the pictures here to see the heat's effect on the workers in that area.). Still, I got to watch for a little while and get a greater appreciation for the skills involved.
The next day, however, there was a surprise waiting for me, as our leader handed me a piece of a clay brick. A normal person might not think that would be a big deal, but this fragment came from the archaeological dig site of Martha Washington's first husband, John Custis. There is nothing to say that it was from an original structure built on the site, but I think it is safe to claim that this brick was thrown into the mold and then kiln-baked by enslaved individuals in the 18th or 19th Centuries. It will forever remind me of my experience at Colonial Williamsburg, but it will also help me appreciate the ugly history that brought this nation to fruition and continues to affect our culture.