Sandra Lovell atop the boulder in the center of her garden at 239 Avalon Drive, 8/19/19 [Photo: David Kramer]
Recently, when uncluttering a closet, I found an envelope entitled “Rock Fever” or “The Meadowbrook Boulder Saga.”
In the envelope were some photos from 2000 (given the date, they are on Kodak paper) and a narrative entitled “Rock Fever Hits Meadowbrook,” memorabilia my parents saved from their own encounter with Rock Fever.
I was living in Rhode Island at the time, but the memorabilia jogged my memory of the phantasmagoric appearance of the buried boulders in Brighton’s Meadowbrook neighborhood. As seen in Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association Historian Robyn Schaefer’s history (below), in April of 2000, work began to replace old gas lines and connections. Unexpectedly, workers discovered small and large boulders impeding progress. The rocks and boulders were unearthed and placed on lawn extensions.
To passersbys, the stones looked like lunar rocks or bits of asteroids fallen to earth and scattered about a quiet, leafy suburban neighborhood. Residents were less aggrieved and more curious and creative. People took the boulders to adorn their own yards and gardens.
Memorabilia in hand, I trekked to three sites where boulders can still be found.
At 239 Avalon Drive, I met Sandra Lovell, retired from Kodak’s chemical library and gardener extraordinaire who moved into the home in 2011. Interestingly, Sandra still has Robyn’s history given to her by the previous owners, Todd and Carolyn Reynolds, who commandeered a large boulder. (see featured photo and photo five below)In the last 8 years, Sandra has made the rock the centerpiece of a lovely garden, a mixed perennial bed. Amongst other plants, the garden consists of native Black-eyed Susans, native purple cone flowers, variegated forsythia and Japanese snowballs. Chipmunks live under the boulder and one brave creature sits on its top. Especially in winter when the stone is more visible, pedestrians stop in curiosity and some take pictures. At 280 Avalon, Robin Wagner, who moved with her husband Dan and young son Asher to Meadowbrook from Nashville in June, had not heard the story of Rock Fever as the original owners, the Millers (see photo seven), moved about three years ago. The yard is beautified with quite a few large and small rocks. After consulting the photos, we determined the boulders closest to the street are the ones unearthed during the excavations. Robin is a medical doctor at Strong and her husband Dan Alexander is a political science professor at the University of Rochester. Asher is considered highly photogenic, making an appearance on a local news segment in Nashville about a heat wave – he was eating a popsicle! They are loving Meadowbrook, especially the summer weather as Nashville is sweltering.
The huge boulder on 460 Bonnie Brae, adopted by Roxann Ross and Ken Schumacher — has special meaning as — seen in the photos above — it was unearthed at my parents home and was the largest found on the site. Estimated at 2 1/2 cubic yards!
The day I visited, Roxanne was unavailable for a photo op but her granddaughters, Kaitlyn (15) and Samantha (20) Zimmerman, gladly volunteered. Samantha says she basically grew up with the rock; she was one when first becoming dimly aware of its existence. Until today, Samantha did not know the rock was “famous.”At the photo op, I noticed the pool in the background. Quickly it dawned up me. As I live around the corner, I often hear music wafting over from Bonnie Brae. “Is this the ‘famous’ party house? Indeed it is, answered Samantha. Not only is the home the only one in this section of Meadowbrook with a pool, the family claims to throw “a solid 10 parties a year for a solid 20 years.” Any occasion can be a party: birthdays, graduation, welcome homes, goodbyes, weddings, etc.
Interestingly, the transplanted boulder has not really become a conversation piece at parties, although Samantha and Kaitlyn’s young cousins love playing on it. After this article, the rock will be the talk of the town.