Looking Back: ‘The Rock’ at the Keego Harbor Veterans’ Memorial Plaza
Posted May 17, 2017
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Edward A. Weber, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard 1951-54 and was a member of the Honor Guard for President Harry S. Truman, recalls the history of “The Rock” at the Keego Harbor Veterans’ Memorial Plaza.
Weber’s father, Edward, was a well-known stonemason in the area who did much of the stonework at the St. Mary’s campus and built 17 waterwheel bases for Henry Ford.
Edward A. recalls that in November 1946, his father was approached by the Keego Harbor Kiwanis Club for an idea on how to replace the wooden obelisk that had been used as a memorial monument to those serving in the armed forces, both active and deceased. Edwin Dryer and the chief of police, along with other club members, sought Edward’s opinion for something more permanent. Edward suggested using stone, and the one he had in mind was by a stream on the Weber property.
All that could be seen of the rock was an area as big as a lunchbox. The Kiwanis members went to the farm with shovels and began digging. After an hour, they decided to bring in an excavator on a low-boy trailer, and they dug out the rock with a backhoe. The rock was loaded onto the trailer and hauled to Keego Harbor, where it was placed at the direction of the Kiwanis members. Because it was December, the huge rock could not be cemented to the base because it was full of water from being frozen. A tent was constructed over the rock, and it was the job of 16-year-old Edward A. to keep a kerosene burner running to bring up the nearby temperature, “like it was an 80-degree day.” Only then could the base work be completed.
The Kiwanis members furnished cement for the base and paid for a bronze iron plaque that would dedicate the rock to all veterans. Edward A. used a chisel and hammer to create a space for the plaque that he cemented into place. The plaque reads:
DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO
HAVE SERVED IN THE
ARMED FORCES OF THE USA
FROM WEST BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP
NOV. 11, 1946
The rock, in Keego Harbor’s Memorial Plaza, at the intersection of Cass Lake and Orchard Lake roads, measures almost 7 feet high and over 17 feet in diameter. It was repositioned in 2001 when the Cass Lake Road corridor was widened. In 2004-05, the Keego Harbor Memorial Plaza was created by the developer of the Harbor Pointes subdivision. Brick pavers, benches and landscaping now surround the rock, which is secured on a round 20-inch cement base. Edward A. thinks that the rock is probably Michigan granite, which weighs 125 pounds per square foot.
Thanks to Edward A. Weber, 85, for sharing this boyhood memory. He moved up north to a retirement home in 2016.
— Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society
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