“They’re tearing down everything we built,” he said with a laugh. “But I guess that’s what they call progress.”
Although Fischer founded what became one of the largest masonry contracting businesses in the area, he said it was a struggle to get on his feet after returning from the war.
Fischer said he started a four-year apprenticeship in 1947 making less than a dollar an hour, and that’s the same year he married his wife. They moved into a one-room apartment with a fold-up bed.
“We thought we were in heaven when we had that,” he said.
Money was so scarce Fischer ended up taking on a second job working at Chrysler. From 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., he laid brick with his uncle and worked odd jobs for other companies for his apprenticeship. From 4 p.m. to midnight, he worked on the line at the factory.
Fischer did that for 16 months. The payoff? The newlyweds had their first car — a used 1938 Oldsmobile.
“There ain’t no better car in the world than that,” he said.
After his apprenticeship was over, Fischer decided to start doing masonry on his own. In 1952, he began working freelance jobs on residential properties. That went well, so a decade later, he started his own company.
That’s when business started booming.
Commercial contracts started rolling in, and by the 1970s, Fischer had hired over 30 masons to keep up with demand.
“I know in 1974 people were talking about a recession, but we were so darn busy that we didn’t even know it was going on,” he said. “We were fortunate for that and thankful for the work.”
At one point, Fischer said the company had two furniture store projects going, two shopping stores, one supermarket and a hotel all at the same time. Near the same time, the company also built South Side Christian Church on East Markland Avenue.