2002-09-25 / Front Page

Bricks building toward a 9/11 memorial fund

By elaine van develde
Staff Writer

Bricks building toward
a 9/11 memorial fund
By elaine van develde
Staff Writer

HAZLET — Selling a piece of history, brick by brick, is one way toward building a 9/11 memorial.

In line with that thinking, a group of teenagers gathered at the township’s Public Works Department Saturday to brush off and breathe new life into the old bricks from the Vecchi Ketchup Factory’s smokestack, which was torn down in June.

Those bricks — more than 200 of them — will be sold for $10 each at Hazlet Day Oct. 5 at Veterans Park to benefit the township’s 9/11 memorial in the making.

Township officials thought the brick sales would be a good idea and would fill a twofold purpose. The memorial till would be filled with proceeds of the brick sales, and Hazlet residents would get a piece of the town’s history. The past would honor the present.

"People are buying a piece of Hazlet history, and the entire proceeds are going to the Hazlet 9/11 memorial fund," said Mayor Christopher Cullen. "There’s a historical value that contributes to another monument of history." The bricks were cleaned off, plaques were glued to them and they were wrapped by high school honors students from Raritan High School and the Marine Academy of Science and Technology at Sandy Hook, said event organizer Sue Meyer, a township employee. Each brick’s plaque reads, "A piece of Hazlet Township’s history, Vecchi Chimney 1916-2002."

The chimney stood as a monument to the historic ketchup factory, earmarking early industry in the township. Located near Hazlet Avenue and the train station, the factory in its early 1900s heyday was a place local farmers brought their tomatoes for processing into ketchup. Apple cider and apple butter were made in the fall at the factory as well, but it was primarily known as a ketchup factory.

Metal products were made there after World War II. In 1960 the factory was closed. It was demolished in 1963, leaving only its chimney. A few months ago, the chimney was also taken down to make room for more commuter parking at the train station.

Officials believe saving a couple hundred historic bricks will pay off and be part of a tribute. The Hazlet Township 9/11 memorial will honor about 10 residents or former residents of Hazlet who perished in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center last year. The memorial, to be erected in Veterans Park, will be a 9-foot, 11-inch-tall monument with names of victims, etchings of their faces, and a short biography of each. It will be surrounded by a circle of benches. The design was donated, as well as the artwork. Joseph Uras Monuments, Middletown, will provide all materials and labor at cost. Ground was broken on the memorial Sept. 11.

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