Scroll down to the section titled "Best method: Gel or paste removers". I believe this would be the best way. Reading the entire article will also be helpful. The brick from the 50's could possibly be as fragile as some older bricks. The article discusses exterior paint, but this is possibly what they used on your bricks. It is no doubt oil based paint.
I have used gel paint remover many times. It is caustic, but with proper gloves and breathing apparatis, you will be fine.