Revisiting “Rock Fever Hits Meadowbrook” (May-June 2000)

Revisiting “Rock Fever Hits Meadowbrook” (May-June 2000)

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.

David Kramer [Photo: Sandra Lobell]

David Kramer [Photo: Sandra Lovell]

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.

Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association Historian Robyn Schaefer's history of the unearthed boulders.

Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association Historian Robyn Schaefer’s history of the unearthed boulders. May-June 2000

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)


May-June 2000. (top, left to right) Ms. Heidi Dankosh and a Babcock worker who will move the rocks to her backyard; Mr. George Baker — Construction Inspector for RG&E Corporation makes sure everything is going smoothly; men from Babcock Enterprise hard at work (bottom, left to right) The largest boulder found on site now resides at 460 Bonnie Brae; Todd and Carolyn Reynolds with the new addition to their front lawn at 239 Avalon Drive; Michael Miller and his son Max in their completed rock garden at 280 Avalon Drive [Photos and captions provided by Robyn Schaefer]

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.

Library Document Station_4 (2)

May-June 2000 (First one, top to bottom) Babcock chains boulder to backhoe; Babcock attempts to drag boulder away; street pavement is scored by same; boulder makes no further than next door’s lawn extension where it can be seen sitting in front of Meg and Tom Upson’s house, 161 Avalon Drive (Second row, top to bottom) The boulder just unearthed at 155 Avalon [Kramer residence]; Carol Kramer poses with boulder, shortly thereafter; boulder sits on lawn extension at dusk in front of 155 Avalon [Photos by Carol Kramer except row 2, middle, captions by Eugene Kramer]

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.


280 Avalon Drive (left) David Kramer, [Photo Robin Wagner] (right) Asher Alexander and Robin Wagner, [Photo: David Kramer]

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.”

Boulder at 460 Bonnie Brae. Samantha Zimmerman (left) and David Kramer [Photo: Kaitlyn Zimmerman] 8/21/19

Boulder at 460 Bonnie Brae. Samantha Zimmerman (left) and David Kramer [Photo: Kaitlyn Zimmerman] 8/21/19

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.

SEE ALSO Site says Brighton is best place to live in New York

12 corners

Twelve Corners Memorial Park, Brighton, NY 4/5/18 [Photo: David Kramer]

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


Like what you see on our site? We’d appreciate your support. Please donate today.

Featured Posts