There it stood at the end of the road. House Rock Road. What else would you call a street that featured such a geological rarity. People came from far and wide to see this gigantic boulder balanced in such a way as to defy gravity. For us, the families who lived in that Weymouth, Massachusetts neighborhood and who grew up in the shadow of House Rock it was just another place, a landmark, a park.
But if you were a kid, House Rock was a kind of local Himalaya. It was climbable, and many foolish teen made it to the top. The problem was getting down. I never made the ascension, but apparently once at the top, it looked a heck of a lot more daunting getting down. The possibility of a fatal slippage became more real and before we knew it we’d hear the familiar sound of fire engines, coming to the rescue of some poor fools. And down they would come hiding their faces from the giggling crowds.
So once we were old enough to know better about House Rock, we knew better indeed and pretty much left it alone. Except for the frightening and small crevices underneath where sometimes kids would slither. But there was always talk of snakes, so my friends and I steered clear of the underside of House Rock. And broken glass was always the other danger. I remember one time a young kid from another neighborhood went barefoot and stepped on some sharp glass. Fortunately there was a doctor, actually a dentist – yes, a dentist, Mr. Weeman, who bandaged the boy up pronto and sent him on his way back home. We never saw that young man nor his bleeding foot again.
There was a small park next to House Rock, called appropriately enough, House Rock Park. It had huge swings, a slide and other fun things for a kid to break his or her head upon if they weren’t careful. When I was really young my father would take me up the street after dinner to the park, and hide quarters and fifty cent pieces in the sand under that big old slide. I believe he was trying to teach me a lesson, as I dug my way into the sand and came up with the flashy coins, though I’m still not sure what the point was. Perhaps he just wanted to give me money and teach me that sometimes you have to work for it.
I wish I had photographs to convey to you the look and feel of House Rock Park, but I lived and breathed it’s air long before people were posting photos on the Internet. So the images are only ingrained in my mind. Images of camp counselors who would teach us games and how to make a strange string of plastic that we called “gimp.” Images of my sisters or my father pushing me on the swings.
And most vividly images of the Haunted Woods that would be constructed every year around Halloween, complete with dead man dummies that scared the wits out of you and music playing from tape recorder hidden in the woods….
“They’re coming to take you away, ha ha, he he
To the funny farm where life is wonderful all the time….”
So many memories, each detail fading just a little bit more with every passing day. I try to reach back into my memory to catch a few before they fade forever. Yes, they fade, only into a new day and newer generations who now live in the shadow of House Rock.
I just hope they’re not still climbing it.