WEST READING, Pa. - "A lot of people call me the Lego guy. My first Lego? Oh, when I was knee high to grasshopper, probably six or eight, somewhere in that area. Back then it was just simple bricks, you know? " remarked Mark Petrich.
Simple bricks you connect and model trains. That was actually Petrich's first love. The Lego movement in his life didn't begin until his daughter was six. Legos were easier to amass than trains, and since he had three kids, the collection grew every Christmas and every birthday.
Eventually, as children do, they grew up and moved out of the house, but the Legos stayed.
"About 14 years ago for Schuylkill Haven Boro Days, I said, 'How about if I just put out a few Legos I got? Oh, that would be a great idea.' That was a four by eight sheet of plywood and today it's where I'm up to 43 feet I think," recalled Petrich.
Petrick, a retired Army construction engineer, still shows at the Boro Day at the end of September, but the only other time you can see his impressive collection is at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in West Reading during the holidays.
"After I started putting them out on display, I actually started buying Legos for myself," he said.
If you ask him how many he has, he'll tell you more than one, which is true. Underneath the display are a few more loose Legos and there are still more at Petrich's home in Schuylkill Haven.
This past summer though, he thought all was lost with back-to-back historic floods. You can see the water marks on his storage boxes that were in the shed. It took three weeks to clean the mud off the bricks.
He has his favorites. Mostly ones he designed himself like the tilt-a-whirl in the amusement park. It spins.
There's a rail depot he's worked on for years, adding a floor and opening up the back so you can see the details inside. It's within walking distance to an office building with a working elevator, a pizza shop, airport and a skate park.
Only three things on the table aren't Lego: the string used to make the suspension bridge, the American Flag that sits in the center and batteries that make the Legos go.
There's no glue except for a bit on the newer model carousel which Mark admits fell apart when it started moving.
"Other than that, I could just make a big pile of bricks right here," Petrich said.
Maybe then he would start counting.
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