This morning when my alarm went off, I heard a commercial for Great Rock Golf Club, right around the corner from my house in Wading River. It made me think about the rock after which it is named and what it meant to my childhood. When I was a little kid, Great Rock was known as "Big Rock," and it was the stuff of local legend. Long Island is peppered with glacial erratics (boulders left by the retreat of the glaciers), some of which are utterly huge.
I was probably eight or nine when I first heard about Big Rock. I heard about it from the older kids living around the block. They claimed it was as big as a house and was somewhere in the woods behind our development. At the time, it seemed no one remembered quite how to get to it. It was another two or three years before a kid in my neighborhood who was in the know took me there.
From my house in Wading River, a hike to Big Rock on kiddie legs was a big deal and took most of an afternoon. I'll never forget the first time I saw it - indeed, the kids in the neighborhood who were fond of exaggerating things weren't exaggerating when they talked about Big Rock. It WAS as big as a house, and it looked even bigger to my 11-year-old eyes.
These days, Big Rock is now called Great Rock. (I guess "Big Rock" isn't a good enough name when you're trying to attract rich people to a country club atmosphere.) I might even join the club if they changed its name back to Big Rock
The glacial erratics in Wading River seem to serve as landmarks for young people. Big Rock was the one I was first introduced to. Sometime in my teens, I was introduced to Split Rock, which is a 15-minute walk toward the Shoreham Plant from Shoreham-Wading River High School. Off in the woods, where adult eyes weren't likely to see, is a huge glacial erratic split in half. All the kids used to congregate around it, Lord of the Flies-style, before high school parties and dances. Teens start campfires at its base and sit around sharing pilfered beers and whatnot. It's a rite of passage in SWR.
Maybe one day when I buy a house on Long Island I'll have a big boulder on the property somewhere. People seem fond of building rock walls and putting ornamental boulders out in front of the house in my old neighborhood. Big Rocks rock.