At first, he just wanted to rebuild the dilapidated mailbox.
But in his online searching for snazzy materials to really dress up the box - as most folks in La Cañada have mailboxes as impressive as their sizable homes - Los Angeles County Firefighter Specialist Jerry Wolak came across a commemorative tile to the heroes of 9/11.
And the project was born.
"I pity the car that crashes into this,'' Wolak joked in August, as he and other firefighetrs from the La Cañada station put the final touches on the flagstone and brick work - all built and paid for by the firefighters, not the county.
Firefighters can be pretty ruthless in their teasing of each other, so the box had to be perfect, he said, noting La Cañada is also the kind of comunnity where residents take great pride in front yard aesthetics, so shabby simply wouldn't do.
And being that the project was finishing up just in time for the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentegon, he figured the tile a fitting tribute to his New York brethren.