“I’d go in and have a cup of coffee and say, ‘Hi, how are you doing today?'” says David Seltzer, who’s been at Audiomack Brick Factory for almost a decade.
He was an apprentice in the 1960s and ’70s, and it was a time when brickmakers were getting their chops in.
Now he’s in his 50s and has a full-time job.
Seltzer is in the business of building bricks, and his company, Seltzers Brick Factory, is one of the biggest.
Brickmakers typically spend $50,000 a year building new brick, but he estimates that the company builds one to two hundred a day.
It’s the kind of gig he’d love to keep doing, he says.
It was a tough road for Seltzman, who came from a working-class family in northern New Jersey.
He went to a Catholic high school, but his father was an alcoholic.
Selster remembers getting into trouble at school, and he and his brothers and sisters were sent to live with their grandparents.
Seltsmith’s family, too, had problems.
His dad, a self-described “hard-working, good-hearted, fun-loving man,” was kicked out of his home when Seltsmith was a kid.
Siltzer grew up in the same house and worked on his own.
“We had no money, and we were starving,” he says, “so we had to steal and steal and take drugs and do whatever we had.
I remember my mom always saying, ‘We can’t do this.
We can’t keep doing this.'”
When he turned 13, he got a job as a janitor at a building that housed the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus.
“They would have to hire a carpenter to put the brick on the outside of the building,” Seltzes Brick Factory remembers.
“And I had to learn to do it myself.
I did it, and I had a job.”
Seltzik said that’s when he started working with his father and the local brickmakers.
The work at the brick factory would have an immediate impact on Seltzing’s life.
“You’re not making money,” Selszer says.
“It’s a really tough time in my life.
I had nothing.”
Selszers Brick factory makes about 10,000 pairs of shoes each year.
The company is based in Brooklyn, but Seltzel’s family has a home in Pennsylvania, where his father worked as a plumber for the U.S. Steel Corporation.
SELTSIZER: I was living in a trailer and I would do about a thousand a day in the trailer.
And my father would say, “If you do that, you’ll be fine.”
He told me, “I’m going to take care of you.”
I thought, “Oh, OK.”
I went home, I went to bed.
He came in the next day, and my father said, “Why are you up so early?”
He’s like, “Because you need to be working.”
So I said, ‘Well, I don’t know if I’m going home to my mother or father.’
I went back to work, and when I went out there, my father was doing another job.
And I was like, ‘What’s going on?
And he was like—he didn’t know what to say.
He just said, “‘You’re doing great.
I’m so proud of you.'”
So, Selszzes Brick factory started making shoes for the American Apparel company.
The bricks are assembled by hand, and the work is grueling.
SELSIZZER: The whole process is gruel.
I work 24 hours a day, every day.
The boots I make are like a marathon race.
It takes me six months to complete them.
It is not easy.
They are made in New York.
You have to take a lot of time out of your life, and you have to work at it.
“The work you do is gruelsome, and there’s no rest,” Sells says.
In the late ’70t, SELTs son was hired as an apprentice brickmaker in Audiomak.
“There were a lot more kids in the community,” SELTZERS son recalls.
“My dad said, if you get this job, you’re going to be a brickmaker for life.
He said, you’ve got to be able to work six hours a night and you’re not going to make much money.”
The work was grueling, and Selsitzers son had to work from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., making bricks in the morning and selling them in the afternoon.
He’s an engineer.
“He had a lot to learn,” SELSITZERS