A Piece of GM history: Thousands come to Janesville for free bricks

A Piece of GM history: Thousands come to Janesville for free bricks

JANESVILLE, Wis. - Thousands of people from across the Midwest traveled to Blackhawk Community Credit Union in Janesville on Saturday for the chance to get a piece of General Motors history. 

For hours, drivers patiently waited their turn to get two free bricks from a now demolished GM production plant, which shut its doors more than a decade ago. 

"People were distraught because the plant was coming down," said Dona Dutcher, a curator for the General Motors Legacy Center, a portion of the proposed headquarters of the credit union's new headquarters.  "They wanted to have a tangible way they could remember it with."

Some former employees joined the effort to sort and share the bricks.

"My father worked there," said Daniel Mezera, a volunteer. "That’s where my uncles worked. I had friends that worked there. I currently work at Chrysler in Belvedere. The automotive industry is in our blood."

Dutcher said when it comes to the bricks, there's a deeper meaning for each one.

"The second person in line was a woman taking the brick out to her husband’s gravesite," she said.  "You see a lot of that."

Others, like Dennis Hurt, traveled the country for a chance to get a brick. 

"My 1970 Impala that we’re driving was built at the Janesville plant," Hurt said.  "So we decided to drive 675 miles from Kansas to get a brick from the plant."

On Sunday, the smokestack, one of the remaining icons of the plant, came down. Dutcher said for many, today's event is a way to grieve and begin to move forward. 

"This is part of the grieving process," she said. "But it’s not closure. This is just like grieving anything. It’s personal, and you grieve personally."

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