My name’s Tony Balfa. I have a business called Cajun Masonry in Elijay that I’ve had for 43 years, and I do anything out of brick, block, and stonework. I do block foundations, block buildings, brick houses, rock houses…I did this fireplace here years ago – about 8 years ago. Here in this subdivision they want them to look a hundred years old – the old look in the houses – and this is one of the very few subdivisions in Elijay that have nice, old antique-look houses here.
And then I’m also a Cajun musician. I play with one of the…it was called the Balfa Brothers. I played all over the world with my dad and uncles. They were one of the first groups to bring Cajun music out of Louisiana in ’67 to Newport, Rhode Island. My dad was a Mason, my dad was a Cajun musician who was very proud of the heritage. They traveled and they spread their culture – Cajuns – they didn’t want it to die. My uncle was Dewy Balfa, who was the Cajun fiddler ambassador of Louisiana. Spoke on Cajun culture. I was his riddle man; I played any instrument in Cajun music. I played drums, guitar, bass, accordion, fiddle, triangle, spoons, fiddlesticks…. We traveled the world, played Presidents’ Inaguration Balls: Nixon, Regan. They all passed away and I ended up in Elijay in 2003.
I’ve been here, and I had a website that was built for me back then. These people were quitting the website at the first of the year, and I was looking for a website, but I wanted someone that I could speak to in person, and not computers. So I knew him from many years ago. We were in Elijay, in an office next to each other, and I didn’t know at the time that he had a website and my old website owner told me about him. I love it because I get to see someone in person. I didn’t care about what it cost, I wanted someone that I could speak to in person. Thank God that I knew him! It really worked out. He’s quick with it, and it looks great. My work is 50% word of mouth and 50% internet. I was just so pleased to have someone from Elijay to do my website! It’s on now and it kicks. It looks good – he does a good job.
Thank you Tony. That’s awesome! So tell us a little more about this fireplace. Give us some specific details on what you did here.
Ok, this fireplace actually is two-in-one. We’re on the porch out here, and they have one on the other side of this, inside, which is the living room. I build them – my dad taught me how to build them – real fired brick, real fired clay inside, and these are Tennessee fieldstone. Here they want the old look, to make them look real old, and it’s hard sometimes to do it the old way because they laid it crooked. The builder, Marlon Brackett, who does a lot of the building in here, he would walk around now and then and say “Put the hammers up. Just lay ’em as you pick ’em”. And that’s what these are. These are just picked from the pile and laid up. This has a jack arch here with a key and they want it look dry stack with no mortar showing and that’s what you get here, with a nice thick hearth. My dad taught me how to build them 43 years ago.
That’s awesome. It looks great – it looks great now.