Asking Hard Questions and Finding Concrete Answers
-Fred Stock

       Barbara Ann and I were out for our daily constitutional walk the other day, crossing a street here in the little country-club community in which we live. Barbara remarked, "I wonder who invented concrete and how long it has been around?" Naturally, I said, "It was a guy named Ralph, and probably at least a couple of decades!" Ha ha - forget it. But as we walked along, I realized, all you have to do is open your eyes nowadays and you see concrete. Streets, Walls, Towers, Buildings, Curbs, Flood Control, Landscaping, even front "lawns" in this desert area club are often concrete. It's like Chicken-man, it's everywhere!

       Well, having a warped but curious mind, I went looking for the answer. (At this age, any level of manifest mental function at all is a plus, so I felt this might do me good.) Well!!! Such a story I've got for you! Pay attention, there is an extra credit test later on.

       First of all, nobody invented concrete. God did. About 12-million years ago, reactions between limestone and oil shale laid a natural plane of concrete in Israel, They found it in the 1960's. There's concrete proof, as we have suspected right along, God actually IS Jewish!  Well, anyway, human-kind began to catch up about 5600 BC making roads in Yugoslavia using red lime as the cement. Later, the Egyptians mixed sandy mud with straw and used gypsum mortar to build pyramids. That was about 3000 BC. The Romans (Don't they live over on Minnesota Street?) found all kinds of ways to make the stuff stronger, lighter, more flexible, and able to leap tall buildings.

       Now our research on the internet has produced all kinds of information about pozzolanic cement (is he allowed to talk like that in public?), about Portland Cement (named after the English city in which it was developed), and even steel reinforced concrete. More than I ever wanted to know about tricalcium silicates, aluminate, hydrates and sulfates, and aggregates, and strings of chemical names that look like my little grandchild's attempt to write things down. Good grief!  There are some interesting facts there too.

  
     *The Roman baths, Pantheon & Coliseum were built of concrete made with added
              animal fat, blood and milk.

       *The first systematic testing of tensile strength was in 1836 in Germany.

       *Concrete Flower Pots were first made in France in 1867.

       *The first reinforced concrete bridge was built in England in 1889.

       *Bellefontaine OH first concrete street North America 1891 (First potholes 1892)

       *Concrete domes over sports stadia began 1967 at Univ of Illinois Assembly Hall.

       *First concrete "high rise" built in Cincinnati OH in 1903.

       *Tallest reinforced concrete building in the world 946ft 311 S. Wacker Dr, Chicago

       Well, there you are - more than you ever wanted to know about concrete. Next time you are out walking, you will have reason to have a little respect for the slabs you traverse. After all there's nothing worse than an angry concrete slab, is there? Amazing !! Almost makes you want to run out and grab on to one of those peppermint striped cement mixers from A-1 Aggregates and give it great big hug!