THE STONE HOLE -
IT WAS MORE
THAN JUST A PILE OF ROCKS
Memory by Mildred Filbrun Heck
The back field of
our Ohio farm was on a
slight hill. It was a rough, rocky piece of land. Early each
spring my father, like generations of farmers before him, dug out and hauled
from his crop fields the large boulders and rocks that heaved to the surface
there every winter.
These were hauled away over the still-frosty fields on a heavy rock sled pulled by a team of horses to a low corner of the back field. Dad said that low spot, about the size of a farm house, had once been a spring-fed pond. Now it was mostly filled with big boulders and thousands of smaller rocks. The spring was still there in one corner but the small amount of water now ran into a ditch along the side of the lonely Shull Road which, together with the wider, more travelled, Old Troy Pike, bordered our farm in Wayne Township (now Huber Heights). Over the many years, flowering locus trees, elderberry bushes and sweet-scented wild roses planted themselves on the edges of the “Stone Hole”, as we called it.
I was a small child in about 1920 with no playmates nearby so I dearly loved to play "house" alone in that rocky place. I would run along the dirt car track of Shull Road to my quiet make-believe house whenever I could leave my other farm chores. I moved hundreds of smaller rocks to make paths wherever it was possible. With an old broom I swept those paths clean. I imagined the big flat rocks as my tables and I rolled in smaller rocks for my chairs. Just across Shull Road on the Booher farm was a trash dump and there I found plenty of broken dishes, old tin pie tins and chipped granite pots to dress my "tables".
I often saw snakes when I moved the stones. There were rabbits too, and now and then I saw the red fox that lived among the rocks on the far side of the Stone Hole. We were no threat to each other and got along just fine. That Stone Hole was at least one-quarter mile from our farm house and yet I was never afraid of being there alone. Mom would ring the dinner bell when it was time for me to come home and help with the evening chores. Sometimes I was so absorbed in my "house work" among the rocks that I never heard the bell. My older brother, Bob, would then be sent to call me. My family always knew where I was.
Now and then Dad would stop by to check on my play work when he was in a nearby field. One day he brought me a bucket of clay with water from the kitchen. He showed me how to moisten the clay just enough to make cups and bowls from the clay, then how to dry and harden them on the sunny sides of the boulders.
A few times, when I went to play house, I found on my rock table a
can filled with the very first field daisies or wild asters or golden rod,
put there in the early morning by Dad. He had a sharp eye and loved the
things nature provided more than most folks did. I
loved the cool solitude and absolute quiet and the complete freedom of that
wonderful rocky place in the old Stone Hole .
years later I lived in Florida each winter.
My flower bed needed a few rocks so I drove to a back country
road to pick them up. I never found even one rock of any size –
not a single one. I soon
learned that Florida has no rocks – not any. A nearby garden center had small
rocks that had been hauled in from the northern states. The price
was 70 cents a pound! How very awful, I
thought, to have to pay anything for a few rocks.
After that, my thoughts went back again and again to those thousands of magnificent boulders and rocks and stones - which were unwanted by anyone but me - in that wonderful old “Stone Hole” near Dayton, Ohio. All my adult life has been spent in the large crowded cities of Chicago and Miami and always with thousands and thousands of people and their noises and their activities.
How I envy anyone who can find a quiet place of peaceful freedom - like that long ago one I found among a pile of beautiful stones and rocks with fragrant white locus blossoms in the spring, old-fashioned, pink wild roses each summer, and delicious purple elderberries in the fall. That is a memory worth keeping.
story has been edited by Mrs. Heck’s
brother, William S. Filbrun -
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