Piece of Putnam can be yours

MIKE JAMES, The Independent

ASHLAND — Want a 4-inch by 8-inch piece of Ashland Tomcat history?

It’s yours for the taking.

The demolition of Putnam Stadium is generating tons of debris — shards of concrete, spaghetti tangles of reinforcing steel and splinters from the old wooden bleacher seats where generations of Tomcat fans cheered their team.

What seem to have captured the interest of nostalgic fans are the stadium’s bricks, however. Superintendent Steve Gilmore said he has been getting calls from souvenir hunters asking about them.

Early on, the plan had been to sell the bricks to raise money for the foundation hoping to bankroll future phases of the stadium rebuild.

But breaking a 76-year-old structure to bits with a giant jackhammer doesn’t result in nice neat bricks. Rather, most of the bricks are broken or at least chipped, and edged with globs of mortar.

So the district has decided to give them away, Gilmore said.  Demolition workers will be hauling the bricks to the area between the stadium and Joel Street called the dust bowl, where they will be available on a first come, first served basis. The workers will not be able to clean the bricks or remove mortar or bricks that are still mortared together.

There are two main guidelines, Gilmore said. One is stay clear of the demolition site, where heavy equipment is chipping away daily at the stadium. The other is don’t be greedy.

Souvenir hunters wanting a brick or two are welcome, but hoarders are not. So don’t plan on building a patio with Putnam bricks or loading a pickup full. In fact, district employees will be on the lookout for anyone taking excessive amounts.

The district is keeping some of the bricks for later use in a project to be announced, Gilmore said.