Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


The Family Rock

Last fall, I shared this picture with you when I was talking about family pictures.


My great-grandmother was much better at commanding the fam to get together for a pic than I am. She succeeded. I didn’t.

This picture still isn’t very good, but I used a photo-editing program to darken it a little, because I wanted you to see what’s behind them.

That’s Twin Rock on Eagle Mountain. (Okay, it’s not really a mountain, but that sounds better than Eagle Hill. Right?)

Twin Rock is a sort of Spess Family icon. We love it.

My dad’s only sister had a picture of her and her cousin snapped there. It was a shot of one of the girl’s head as she’s lying on one rock, and the other girl’s feet, as she’s lying on the other. I THINK they were supposed to look as if the first girl was so tall, she could lie down and curve her body all the way around so her feet stuck out from the other.

It took me several years of looking at it to figure out what they were doing.

Naturally, since Twin Rock is famous in our family, I’ve been there a few times. Once, I was reading all the names and dates carved into it. Lots of names–most of whom I’m related to.

Then I came to a four letter word. H-E-L-L.

That stopped me. Rock chiseling is a lot of work. Why would someone be so proud of knowing the word, they’d work that hard to share it?

Maybe, I thought, it was a warning. Something like, Beware of hell? So I brushed off lichen and moss, trying to see if there was more to it.

There was.

It said, “Mitchell.” LOL. Yep, a family name.

The carving probably wasn’t as hard as I thought, I realize now, because Twin Rock is made of sandstone. Sandstone is a soft material, which erodes quickly.

Twin Rock isn’t nearly as tall as it was in this picture that was probably taken about 1903 or 1904. In fact, it’s barely taller than my head. But most of the names are still there.

And I’m very glad. I know that they spent quite a bit of time in that very spot where I’m standing when I look at it, a direct connection with family I never met.