Someone loves Brandy D.
Few who see the graffiti on a huge rock next to Memory Garden Cemetery might figure out who Brandy is. Some may even recognize the tagger’s obscure sigil underneath the love note. But, most folks who race past on U.S. 180 are left to wonder about the message — just as others have wondered about other missives that have appeared on the boulder for 80 years.
“It was 1937 when the state built the first Highway 180 to Mineral Wells and my grandfather, Dave Langley, and uncle were working on the road,” said Edward Ames, a Parker County historian. “My uncle, Delwin Moore, told me they were told to get rid of two rocks that were in the way. At that time, 180 was a two-lane and there was one rock on either side that had to be moved. So, they just stood the rocks up where they were and left them like that. That was the story he gave me 70 years ago.”
Ames said that when 180 — also known as the Mineral Wells Highway — was expanded to four lanes around 1955, the rock on the south side was destroyed. The north side rock survived to herald Parker County residents’ emotions.
The Rock has been a mainstay on U.S. 180, which over the years has seen other unusual displays, including a row of catfish heads on a fence — they’ve since disappeared — just outside of Weatherford. Closer to Mineral Wells stands a Vietnam-era helicopter at the National Vietnam War Museum.
The rock continues to evoke memories.
Patriotic messages after 9-11
“I remember as a 4-year-old child, riding with my dad and his buddy Hutch of Hutch’s fried pies past that rock in ’53 and ’54 and there were things painted on it then,” said Weatherford Mayor Craig Swancy. “I’ve seen, what I think was the best, was after 9-11, someone painted a patriotic thing on it.”
Parker County Sheriff’s Deputy Danie Huffman recalled the anonymous artwork that remained on The Rock for months following the 2001 terrorist attack.
“Someone did a beautiful rendition of the stamp that was done of firefighters raising the flag at the World Trade Center,” Huffman said.
Swancy said he has never tried to name The Rock.
“It’s always been just The Rock on Highway 180. I’m sure someone has given it a name. I’ve often wondered how many layers of paint are on it,” Swancy said.
Messages left on The Rock run the gamut from birth announcements to death notices.
Barbara Hummel, an office assistant at nearby Memory Garden Cemetery, has seen “wedding announcements, even proposals, and birthday wishes. I saw RIP Paw Paw on it recently. I’ve never been mentioned on it and I’ve never been tempted to jump the fence to put something on it. I don’t know if people get permission, or just go through the fence and do it.”
Messages are respectful
Jon Ferrell, terminal manager for property owner Bridgeport Tank Trucks, said he never heard of anyone asking permission before painting on The Rock in the 10 or so years the company has owned the property.
And, so far, that’s been OK. Indeed, Ferrell said he’s a little proud that the company he works for holds a piece of Parker County’s history.
Evidently, nobody else gets upset when someone leaves a message, either.
In the unincorporated area between Weatherford and Cool, Parker County Sheriff’s deputies are the law. But Huffman found no record of calls or incidents involving The Rock over the last several years.
“If there have been any complaints about it, I don’t have anything,” Huffman said.
Swancy said he never has seen vulgar graffiti on the rock.
“It’s always seems to be respectful,” he said.
The mayor added that he’s been tempted to paint on The Rock, but never succumbed to the temptation.
“I think about doing it when I see something that moves me,” he said. “I wouldn’t leave a romantic note, but probably something patriotic. Generally, that takes care of itself. Someone always seems to leave a good patriotic note when it’s called for. Someone always goes to that rock and expresses their feelings.”