ITâ€™S GOT A DEATH RAY!
2 years ago we started this project for a customer of ours who is now 85 years old, and has had 3 generations of Costello Stone masons work on his property starting with my Grandfather. We have a rich history with this man and he has provided a many of meal on the tables of Costellos for a long time, he is a pure joy to work for and with.
His name is Jerry Baker who made a fortune getting into welding products well before anyone else was. His father and himself started there first shop back when Americas industys were really starting to boom and welding really was still in its infancy, they were ahead of the curve. They soon grew to 7 shops here in Ky / Tenn (for those who don't know we live right on the boarder of Tenn, our county has the state line).
As the welding industry grew by leaps and bound and around I think the 70's AirGas got really huge around New York, so big they started buying up welding supply shops. And they made it down here and approached Jerry asking him to be bought out. Being the brilliant businessman he was he sold them 49% and retained 51% keeping his job while making his very very wealthy early in his career. He worked up till he was 79 years old coming from an old school era of hard work, and when he retired sold Air Gas the rest making him well even wealthier than before.
I have come to know Jerry very well being in such close contact with our family and projects. He is one of the most kind Christian men I have ever meet, but his life has never just been easy. Being gay and growing up in a different era than what we live now you can imagine some of the things he has went thru. All that being said we have built a burial ground outta stone for him, his dogs, and his boyfriend who has long passed I only meet him once when I was 15. He has out lived many many people. All that said it never slowed him down, I didn't know till last year he had won 3 emmys for documentaries (I have a pic holding one lol), has always traveled aboard bringing us back really cool little stone gifts. When he passes he has donated his property to Western Kentucky University from which he is an Alumi and you can see the campus from his house. While always thought full enough to make sure the people who have been good to him are taken care of. He has put in his will that even after he passes no one outside of Costello Stonework is to do any type of stone on the property no matter WKU wishes. Its things like that that have made Jerry a very unique person cause he never forgets how much you have done and how he has been treated by you.
As for the pics I about to have Jueg post this was our latest project on the property, and the first one that my cousin and I had the chance to spearhead outside of my Father since his retirement. All this was put on us. We are extremely pleased with the outcome and have been with the project working from digging the footer to setting the last cap stone. Jerry also is a great appreciator of art and artisans. When taking on this project he told us "I want a wall in this area. You guys create what you think would look the best for this section headed up to the museum". So this is what we came up with and I hope you enjoy it.
After the project was done the other day I won't lie, while I was cleaning up on the bobcat with time to myself I cried. Not because the job was over, but I got to thinking about where I came from. I literally came from an excellent family, but we were in a section of the country where nothing really special is supposed to come outta it. I was never pushed by school to be any better than a D student, I was never pushed to strive for greatness by anyone outside of my Father and his family. Its a tough job, its hard, but it touched me that I had learned this much from my Father my cousin and I that we now had the no how to tackle a project like this and it was all just drawn straight outta the head and put to the ground. Thats why I got so emotional, its a hard thing sometimes taking a lot of crap from your family while coming up in the business, now that something like this is done I know now its because they knew we had it in us to achieve even greater than they had so they pushed us hard. Not to only teach us what 3 generations in front of us learned about stone, but for us to have and find our own conclusions to take this to the next level, either in technique of cutting stone with a hammer, ways to make the job look better. My Father always told us that it was never gonna be easy because every generation that this is passes down the newest generation should be the very best. The reason being is because you have 3 generations of knowledge put on you to be the best, but you have to continue to refine, and figure out more things to possibly teach to the 5th.
After this wall I think he is very true in these words. To date I think this is the most beautiful, and biggest project Costello stone has ever tackled. My Father saw it the other day and was so proud, and that meant the world. If I can please my family, people with acutely trained eyes, the people I lay rock the best way for, then pleasing the customer is always easy. Hope you all enjoy these pics and I will answer any question you guys have about all this.
Now for the 2 year wall project enjoy