SWEETWATER Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Somewhere in Fisher County, across the railroad tracks and just down an old dirt road, you’ll find “The Rock.”
“It just reminds me of my childhood, I think that’s why this means a lot to me. Just a part of my heart I guess,” says Sweetwater native Barbara Blythe.
For generations of Sweetwater kids, The Rock has been a place to get away from it all. Blythe has known the spot since she was 7 years old, and says it is just down the road from her grandparents’ old farm.
“We would come out here and climb on the rock and just watch everybody go by, and it was like a fantasy, going out exploring,” Blythe says.
It was a constant for her all through childhood and well into her teens, when it became a cool place to just hang out.
“We’d sit out here on The Rock and watch the sun go down, listen to music and kind of have a party. No alcohol, not for me anyway,” says Blythe.
At 17, she moved away from her hometown, but as her son Kyle Peterson can attest, yhe legend of The Rock lived on in her stories.
“I always expected it to be so much more taller, you know? But I think everything’s a lot taller when you’re young,” Peterson says.
At 43, Peterson is visiting The Rock for the first time ever as a sort of bucket list item. He says he could instantly understand why his mother remembered the place so fondly.
“Having a place like this is a good place to sit and stew and think about your future, then you are that age, suddenly, like that. You look back and go, ‘Well, I had that. That place has got all my memories soaked into it, and the memories of many many others,'” Peterson says.
This strong childhood connection is why it was so difficult for Blythe to see the graffiti and garbage that now surrounded the rock. It’s a far cry from the magical hang out spot she left nearly 50 years before.
“To me it’d be like taking the pyramids and spray painting the pyramids,” Blythe says.
“I can understand the temptation to leave your mark, but the spray painting and the vandalizing just to vandalize, I can’t relate to that,” added Peterson.
But even under the paint and beyond all the trash, Blythe says The Rock still feels like home. It’s a small place in the big world where everything seems at peace.
“I know it’s silly to love a rock like this, but I do. I do,” Blythe says.
“I would hope that 100-200 years from now kids would be able to have their oak tree or their rock,” says Peterson.
An attempt to clean up The Rock has been tossed around by some Sweetwater-focused Facebook groups, though no plans have been set.