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B is for Bricks that Tell Tales

Blue-tinged cobblestones in San Juan, Puerto Rico (photo by Tui Snider)
Blue-tinged cobblestones in San Juan, Puerto Rico (photo by Tui Snider)

Every street tells a story. Look down. What do you see?

When we travel, my husband Larry often scolds me for stopping in the middle of the street to take photos. He’s right, of course, it’s a dangerous habit, but if something tickles my fancy, I can’t help it. (I have a very ticklish fancy!)

Bricks for Ballast

Those blue-tinged bricks you see at the top of this post, caught my eye in San Juan, Puerto Rico. According to our tour guide, they were used as ballast in Portuguese sailing ships. The sailors either traded or sold the stones to locals, who then used them to pave their streets.

Bricks from a Ghost Town

The historic paving bricks in the second shot were manufactured in Thurber, Texas. Now a ghost town with a population of 5, Thurber was once the largest company-owned town in the south. Back then, Texas and Pacific Coal Company owned everything in Thurber, from the houses, to the church, to the opera house, to every single business.

The company even created its own currency for Thurber’s citizens. It was useless, however, outside the fenced-in city limits. In its hey-day, Thurber had the most prolific vitrified paving brick plant west of the Mississippi thanks to local clay deposits. I spotted these at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, but you can find Thurber bricks all over Texas. They even make up part of the Galveston sea wall.

Bricks from Ancient Rome

I don’t know much about the last set of paving bricks in this photo essay. I saw them in Italy, and was intrigued by their trapezoidal rather than rectangular shape. If you can tell me anything about them, please comment below. I’m sure these ancient Roman bricks have seen a lot of history, and have many tales to tell!

Bricks made in Thurber, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Bricks made in Thurber, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

Follow me on Instagram & I’ll follow you back!

I’ve gone from turning up my nose at the idea of cell phone pictures, to being an avid iPhone photographer, which is why my theme for the 2014 A to Z blog challenge is Instagram Travel Photos. If you are on Instagram, I’d be delighted to follow you. Simply follow my photo feed (@TuiSnider) on Instagram and I’ll follow you back!

For more, check out my collaboration with Morgan Dragonwillow. Morgan used my iPhone photos to accompany her poems in a book called Wild Woman Waking. Check it out!

Trapezoid-shaped bricks in Italy (photo by Tui Snider)
Trapezoid-shaped bricks in Italy (photo by Tui Snider)

What is the April A to Z Blog Challenge?

Each April, people from all over the world participate in the April A to Z blog challenge, and you can too. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to meet other bloggers. To play along, all you do is make a blog post for each letter of the alphabet during April, then use the blog hop linky to visit as many other bloggers as you can. In 2013 for instance, my post for the letter A was “Alien Grave in Aurora, Texas.”

My A to Z Inspired Book: Unexpected Texas

I’d like to thank everyone who commented on my blog during the A to Z Challenge last year, because it convinced me to take the self-publishing plunge. On March 2, 2014, I released Unexpected Texas as a paperback and eBook and it quickly became an Amazon Best Seller!

Check out other A to Z blogs below:

Check out the other participants of the A to Z Challenge 


Tui Snider
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Published inTravel Photo Essays


  1. I LOVE those blue bricks in the first shot! Blue is my favorite color and the idea of cobblestone or brick streets is just charming and old in such a beautiful sort of way. I don’t blame you for stopping in the middle of the street to get the shot :)

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Thank you for dropping by, Katie! I will have to find out what kind of stone those blue bricks are made from. I wonder if they were common in Portugal, or what? :D

  2. I think so many people are more interested with what’s in front of them than what’s beneath them. But the ground can offer up some interesting shapes and patters.

    And congratulations on your Texas book. I enjoyed reading your posts for the A-Z challenge last year :)

    Rebeccah Writes – A-Z 2014

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Hi Rebecca, Yeah – I’m funny that way. I tend to take close ups of funky and odd stuff much more often than grand panoramas. I guess we’re all drawn towards different things. That’s part of what I love about Instagram. I’ve found a bunch of people with similar tastes there. My Internet was out, so I’ll be hopping over to your blog to catch up soon! :D

  3. I love the shapes and angles in these photos. Its amazing how something we often overlook can be so artistic, huh? Great shots!

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Taking photos of overlooked things seems to be my forte. I don’t do as well with portraits and landscapes, but I have the rest of my life to keep working on it! Glad you enjoyed these photos. :D

  4. That first pic of bricks is very pretty. I’d like some of those for a walking path in a flower garden.

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      If they had been for sale, I would’ve loaded up my suitcase with ’em!

  5. Hey that first photo of the bluish bricks is so lovely.
    Congratulations on your book!

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Yeah, I’m not quite sure what those particular bricks were made of that caused them to be blue. Something found over in Portugal, I reckon, but beyond that… I’m not quite sure! Thanks for dropping by. :D

  6. I really love those photos! And I envy your travels. Italy and Puerto Rico are definitely on my bucket list. The blue bricks are gorgeous. I’m glad you ignored your husband to take these awesome photos. :)

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Hi Holli, Glad you enjoyed the photos! I’m lucky that my husband keeps an eye on the traffic for me. He’s yanked me out of harm’s way more times than I care to admit. :D

  7. This is absolutely fascinating! Some of the streets in my town still are paved with their original bricks. I love imagining how many people have walked and driven (cars and carriages and horses!) over those bricks in past decades. :)

    Great post!

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Hi Jaimie, Where do you live? Sometime when you get the urge, see if you can find out more about those bricks in your hometown. I bet you’ll unravel an interesting tale or two. :D

  8. This is awesome! I lived in Long Beach for a while (NY) and there are still some streets that have brick paved streets. This also makes me think of Soho (NY) where the streets are brick paved and even the bottoms of glass bottles (I think?). Beautiful!

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Hi Cristina, I haven’t been to Soho, yet, but it’s on my to-do list. I will definitely keep an eye out for those glass bottle paved streets the next time I visit New York. Thanks for dropping by! :D

  9. It’s so true that we often never look down yet we are walking over history. I wonder what stories they would tell. I love the patina on the tiles in San Juan. I’ll be looking down more often from now !

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Hi Jenny, I think the brick streets of San Juan are the prettiest ones I have ever seen. I could easily spend an afternoon taking photos of them as the light played off them. :D

  10. Listen to your husband! I was hit by a Hong Kong taxi when trying to get a shot! Love the bricks!

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Corinne, Yikes! I am glad you lived to tell the tale! I do listen to my husband… but I still get distracted. *sigh* Scary, though, that you were struck by a taxi. Thanks for dropping by. :D

  11. I also photo things like the bricks when we travel. One of my favorites was a paw print embedded in a brick used in our home exchange house in Spain. (I can’t remember what letter I included the photo in, I think it was E).

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Hi Rhonda, I look forward to seeing your paw print photo. Speaking of, you’ll enjoy the bird footprints in cement that I saw along the Thames in my letter S post! :D

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