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 it means a lot to me. Just 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. Blythe has known the place since she was 7 years old and says it is just down the road from her grandparents’ old farmhouse.
“We would come here and climb up on the rock and watch everyone go by, and it was like a fantasy, going off to explore,” Blythe says.
It was a constant for her throughout her childhood and into her teens, when it became a cool place to hang out.
“We would sit here on The Rock and watch the sun go down, listen to music and have some kind of party. No booze, not for me anyway,” says Blythe.
At 17, she left her hometown, but as her son Kyle Peterson can attest, the legend of The Rock lives on in her stories.
“I always expected him to be so much bigger, you know? But I think everything is so much bigger when you’re young,” Peterson says.
At 43, Peterson visits The Rock for the first time as a sort of bucket list item. He says he could immediately understand why his mother remembered the place so fondly.
“Having a place like this is a good place to sit and simmer and think about your future, so you’re this age, suddenly, like this. You look back and you’re like, ‘Well, I had this. This place contains all my memories, and the memories of many others,” Peterson says.
This strong childhood bond is why it was so difficult for Blythe to see the graffiti and trash that now surrounded the rock. It’s a far cry from the magical meeting place she left nearly 50 years ago.
“To me, it would be like taking the pyramids and spray painting them,” says Blythe.
“I can understand the temptation to leave your mark, but spray painting and vandalism just to vandalize, I can’t relate to that,” Peterson added.
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 like a rock like this, but I like it. I do,” Blythe says.
“Hopefully in 100 to 200 years, kids can have their oak tree or their rock,” says Peterson.
An attempt to clean up The Rock has been launched by some Sweetwater-focused Facebook groups, although no plan has been set.