Friday, May 25, 2007

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

My friend e-mailed this to me earlier in the week. I was very impressed with the information, but haven’t had a chance to share it with everyone until now. The week somehow managed to slip away from me.

I didn’t want to leave for the holiday weekend without posting this to my blog. I hope you enjoy the information as much as I did. I have a high regard for our troops who put themselves in harms way everyday to protect our freedom and way of life. They don’t expect anything from us, and usually don’t receive much from us. After reading this I have raised my respect for our troops.

I hope we all have the chance this weekend to honor all of the soldiers that have served our country and have paid the ultimate price in defense of this great nation. Pay a visit to their final resting grounds and offer a moment of prayer or reflection for their commitment to our way of life.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?
21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one-gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.
2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1

3. Why are his gloves wet?

His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and if not, why not?
He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

5. How often are the guards changed?
Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.
6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb he must be between 5' 10" and 6' 2" tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30." Other requirements of the Guard: They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives.
They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform {fighting} or the tomb in any way. After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.
The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt. There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.
The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone, nor watch TV. All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred. Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis {the boxer} and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, {the most decorated soldier of WWII} of Hollywood fame. Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.
In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, our US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm.
On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer, "No way, Sir!" Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment; it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

God Bless and keep them.

Friday, May 18, 2007

New England Granite

A piece of the New England coast.

New England industrialized granite sometime around the late 1860s. With an influx of labor returning to New England from the Civil War, soldiers were looking for work. As the war ended the troops were looking for direction, and their next assignment. Because they had worked together in life and death situations, many of them had developed a close bond with each other. They wanted to stay with the company of men that had worked together to maintain their existence.

The officers of the company felt a responsibility to their men. They were the leaders, not only of their troops, but also of the communities that they came from. They had recruited these men and felt an obligation to provide work for them now that the war was over. The question was where could they find work for all these men. They needed an industry that was labor intensive, and was available in their community.

The rocky crags along the New England coast provided the answer. These granite outcroppings led to the discovery of large deposits of granite hundreds of feet deep in the ground. This stone was an excellent choice for building the infrastructure that was needed throughout the United States. Buildings, bridges, seawalls and even monuments decorating our cemeteries were needed throughout the country. Granite was the homegrown stone and with all the quarries being developed the supply was endless.

The problem of getting the stone out of the ground was solved with all the available labor from the soldiers.

Quarrying granite is a very labor-intensive business. Even with heavy machinery and equipment, it takes a lot of manpower to move stone that weighs 170-180 pounds per cubic foot. Think of it this way; a block that measures 12 x 12 x 12 inches will weigh on average 175 pounds.

Some of the New England towns and communities where granite originates from are as follows:

Barre, Montpelier, Williamstown, Hardwick, Morrisville, Plainfield, Northfield, West Berlin, Waterbury, Groton, Ryegate, Chelmsford, Milford, Mason, Cape Ann, Gloucester, Quincy, Concord, Deer Isle, Rockport and Penobscot Bay District.

With all of these sources available it is easy to see how granite became such a large industry in New England. Over the 100 year period from 1860 to 1960 granite was the primary source of income for many communities in New England. Fathers taught sons, and the skill of cutting stone was passed down from generation to generation.

Granite was extracted from the ground in huge quantities. This stone was cut, shaped, split and fabricated in many ways creating the finished products that adorn our country. Fabricating all of these products created large caches of stone that was cast aside as unusable for the stonecutters’ work. This stone is piled up in quarries throughout New England. As the quarries shut down for various reasons, piles of stone were left behind that over time developed into aged granite that is now in demand for landscaping and building veneer projects. There is literally millions of ton of material piled up in quarries scattered throughout New England.

It is my job to get the word out that this stone exists. We have some beautiful New England granite in our yard that originates from these majestic quarries.

The stone is excellent for stonewalls, veneer and flagging. It comes in square and rectangular and mosaic “broken ice” pieces. The square and rectangular is ideal for stonewalls and veneers that require a lot of corner work or straight lines. The mosaic is fantastic for flagging, steppers or natural steps to accent the beauty in both residential and commercial landscaping.

This granite has rich dark earthy colors. Because it has been exposed to the elements for the last 50+ years, some of the stone has a weathered patina to it. The freshly split pieces look aged because of the color of the stone. The beige brown and gray colors blend well to give the stone a weathered look without having to wait.

This stone also blends in well with the New England fieldstone. The blocky pieces of granite do a nice job of complimenting the rounded natural look of the fieldstone. Since it all comes from New England, the stone is related. The difference is how it was brought into use.

The granite was transformed into small workable pieces by the hands of talented craftsman.

Mother nature and the evolution of the earth helped us process the fieldstone. As the earth’s plates shifted and moved the stone trapped between these plates was broken up and pushed to the surface. A curse for the farmers, but a treasure for those who enjoy the beauty of fieldstone.

Whatever your application, use New England granite for its elegant beauty and lasting strength.

Remember it for its rich history and timeless resource to the tradition of New England.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Fieldstone is Fieldstone??

A customer stopped by the other day to find a contractor to assist him in constructing a fieldstone wall along the front of his property. I spoke to him about our Buyer’s Guide, which could assist him in finding many qualified professionals. He had not visited our website so he was unfamiliar with the Buyer’s Guide. I showed him how it worked. He was impressed and will be using it to locate some professional help for his stonewall project.

Once locating a contractor was resolved, we moved to the next phase - sourcing the stone. He had stopped by other stoneyards, but didn’t see anything that he liked. He told me that when he drove into he knew he had found his source for New England Fieldstone. We were sitting in my office discussing fieldstone when he asked me the following questions. “So John, fieldstone is fieldstone, right?” I thanked him for the opening and started to explain fieldstone to him.

The definition of fieldstone is “a stone occurring naturally in fields, often used as a building material.” This is a pretty generic definition. It describes stone that our forefathers unearthed as they attempted to make a living in their new land.

They saw it as a burden that prevented them from their industry. I look at it as a gift to help develop my industry. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

I have created a complete New England Fieldstone product line. Here is a list of the different products:


Flat Wallstone
Round Wallstone
Thin Wallstone
Select Flat Wallstone
Select Round Wallstone

Building Veneer:

Flat Mosaic Veneer (Broken Ice)
Round Veneer
Roughly Square and Rectangular
Natural Seam Faced Veneer


Roughly Square and Rectangular

Thin Veneer:

Roughly Square and Rectangular

These products all originate from the rustic rambling stonewalls scattered throughout the landscape of New England. The difference is in the process.

I sort and process all of this stone to create the different products. Some require just sorting. Some require sorting and splitting with my 150-ton splitter. Some require sorting, splitting and cutting. Whatever sorting and processing they require they all maintain the quality that makes them New England Fieldstone.

Fieldstone is fieldstone??

Not necessarily. Let’s take a look at New England Fieldstone. This stone is a conglomerate stone consisting mainly of dense quartzitic stone, which has been subjected to heat and pressure creating an incredibly hard and dense material.

Here is a brief summary of the tests and results of the New England Fieldstone.

Water absorption: .54%

Density: 153 lbs/cf

Specific Gravity: 2.46

Compressive Strength: 18,583 psi (average)

Modulus of Rupture: 2,273 psi (average)

Alone these results may not mean much, but when compared to other building stone here are the comparisons. New England fieldstone is as strong as similar granite products that weigh 15-20% more. This means it is easier to work without compromising the integrity of the job.

This stone will hold up better compared to a sandstone which is a sedimentary rock formed by the consolidation and compaction of sand and held together by a natural cement, such as silica. A hard product, but not as hard or dense as the New England quartzitic fieldstone. Masons like it because it stays together when being shaped and trimmed.

Based on the above test results and comparisons I have determined that New England Fieldstone is the superior building stone product for all of your stone projects.

The next time someone tells you that fieldstone is fieldstone, tell them they are correct as long as it comes from New England and

Thursday, May 03, 2007

My Newest Dealer - Ben Forsberg of Stone Master Scapes

Curiosity is actively exploring the environment, asking questions, and investigating possibilities.

Curiosity is the best way that I can describe Ben Forsberg’s inquiry into my dealer program at Ben is the owner and master mason of his company Stone Master Scapes of Jordan, MN. He has been working with stone over the last 20 years, building a clientele that demands the high quality stonework that he provides.

One of his customers was looking for stone that was different from the quarried stones that Ben normally works with. Since Ben started his career in New England, he felt he could explore sourcing the stone from this area of the country. He started his search on the Internet and immediately narrowed his search to

April Covell spoke with him initially, and sensed that there was more to the call than an order for some New England Fieldstone. She passed the call on to me and I spent the next thirty minutes answering questions that Ben had regarding my stone and my dealer program. When we were through I knew that he had "got it" because he was confident that his customer would like our stone and that he would be working with me as a source for New England Fieldstone in Minnesota.

A few days passed and Ben was on the phone again. This time he was ordering stone for his first project. He told me that he had a few more customers that were waiting to see the stone and then they would be ready to order for their projects.

Today his first load of stone shipped and should be in his yard by Monday.

This process usually takes weeks if not several months from start to finish. Ben actively pursued the opportunity that was available to him from, and will now be benefiting from his ability to sell New England Fieldstone in Minnesota.

His company is listed as a dealer of my products and he will be getting leads for my products immediately. I know that there is interest in his area for other products to include seaside and polished pebbles. If I were a betting man, I would bet that Ben will be ordering a second load shortly.

He is expanding his business by offering his customers a tried and tested product that is in high demand. Ben is providing the retail location and sales expertise, I am providing the national marketing and quality product, and his customers are providing the demand for quality natural stone products. The process is complete, and a win-win-win situation has been created.

Throughout this blog posting I have included some pictures of Ben’s work. You can find these pictures and more on his website at Here is a listing of some of the words that are used to describe Ben’s work:
Sitting walls
Weathered outcropping walls
Building veneer
Hot tub surround
Beautiful functional backyards
Steps and plinths
Simple and clean waterfalls

This is a clear and concise description of the work that Ben does.

What is even clearer and more concise is the name of his company. It best describes what Ben really is – a master of stone landscapes. Check out his website. If you are in the Jordan, MN area check out his business, and if you are lucky enough check out his work. Don’t forget to ask him about his New England Fieldstone products.

Enjoy the weekend. Actively explore your environment and investigate some of your possibilities.