On a particularly rough morning recently, I was walking out to my car for work and saw something out of place. It caught the corner of my eye because it was a bright orange blob. My immediate thought was that someone next door forgot something while packing their car for the day and that I should go try to find the owner of whatever it was. Here’s what I found:
As luck would have it, it turned out to be a specifically placed painted rock which I discovered after picking it up and turning it over. I say it was a rough morning because I was on the verge of tears as I sitting in my car. It was just a really bad week all around. Seeing the cutely painted rock made my day a little bit brighter and more interesting.
I placed the rock in my purse and took it to work with me to research further. Once I got to work, I realized there was an entire group on Facebook dedicated to decorating basic rocks and hiding them in public places as a sort of hide and seek game. I was a member of a similar group for Luzerne county, but I didn’t realize that every community had their own group. This particular rock was painted by a person in the “Steel Valley Rocks” group. I decided to take a photo of the rock with a statue at work. I think you’ll recognize this famous bird.
At the end of the day, I collected my photos and wrote a thoughtful post on the Steel Valley Rocks page. The rules of the group are pretty straight forward…
Practice RAoKs – Random Acts of Kindness! Paint a rock and place it where someone will find it. Bring joy and smiles to the finder! Painting and finding rocks is for EVERYONE, not just children.
Please post pictures of your painted rocks before you hide and when you find, or you can participate anonymously if you prefer. If you find a rock, you can choose to keep and replace or re-hide for someone else to find. If you choose to keep a rock, you are encouraged to hide a new rock in its place. If you find a painted rock from another group, either post on their page or please let us know in your post so we can share the FIND with that group!
I decided to take the rock back with me on my weekly commute to Northeast PA and hide it somewhere there. Seeing it travel across the state may bring the original painter (probably a child) some joy. But where to hide it….where?
Then it hit me. I saw a news article earlier in the week that cracked me up unintentionally: 11/20/17 “Signs installed in W-B to help visitors navigate city” via the Citizens’ Voice Newspaper. If you’ll look closely, one of the signs photographed in the article is misspelled. I don’t know why, but for some reason the sight of this image brought me laughing to tears. Mostly because of its glaring error and that no one noticed it until after it was already up on a pole. See for yourself:
(Image Courtesy of the original CV article linked above)
Federal Courthose? What the shit? How does this even happen? I mean, it would have had to pass through several editors before making it to print, right? By the way, I’m talking about the officials that drafted the sign text, the sign designers, printer, and the folks who hung the sign — not those at the newspaper. Your taxpayer dollars hard at work, ladies and gentlemen.
Anyway, I decided that I needed to go and inspect this misspelled sign myself to make sure the CV wasn’t trolling us all with a photoshopped picture. This was going to be the place where I placed the rock. On Thanksgiving morning, my son and I ventured down to Wilkes-Barre in search of the sign. I figured it shouldn’t be too difficult to locate as I used the Franz Kline historic marker for a point of reference via the ExplorePAHistory.com website. Of course, by finding this point of reference to the sign, I had to do a Google deep dive to find out more about Mr. Kline.
The gist of what I read was: Franz Kline a painter who was born in Wilkes-Barre. He was most famous for his black and white abstractions. His father committed suicide when he was just 7 years old. You can find most of his work by checking out Google images. However, if you’d like to read up more on Franz’s life, I recommend starting here: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-kline-franz.htm. To me, this seemed like a perfect location to leave the rock. Franz Kline had done a lot of black and white paintings. I felt he needed some color and joy in his life, just like I did on the morning I found the painted rock.
The location of Franz’s sign was near River Commons on River St. between South and Northampton Streets, Wilkes-Barre. As you can imagine, there wasn’t much traffic on the roads on Thanksgiving morning, my son and I circled the block where the sign was located and had no trouble finding a parking spot on nearby Northhampton Street. We moved quickly because it was FRIGID that morning. In no time at all, we re-hid the rock.
Also, I must note, that in the weeks time it took me to get out and check out the misspelled Luzerne county visitor sign, it had been fixed. I was kind of disappointed. I guess it’s for the best. We don’t want any visitors coming in and poking fun at us for spelling errors.
At any rate, it was a fun adventure. Laughing at signs and learning about historic figures. I posted the end result of my story in the “Steel Valley Rocks” as well as “Luzerne County Rocks” groups on Facebook. As of yet, I haven’t seen anyone post that it was found, but I’m continuing to monitor for further developments. I think the leaves and snow may work against it, but it is pretty obviously colored and hard to miss. A little while after I posted about where I hid the rock, a school teacher from Plum came forward and said that it was her daughter who painted the rock and she was happy to follow its journey online. The rock was painted and first hid back in June.
So now it’s my turn to pay it forward. I’m trying to paint a rock to re-hide somewhere in the Pittsburgh area, location TBD. I’m having mixed results on the painting situation. An artist, I am not. I tried to kind of recreate the rock I found with mixed results:
It’s not great and it takes the paint forever to dry with multiple coats needed. I have to finish it up (maybe tonight) wait for it to dry (AGAIN) and then it will be ready to hide. I probably won’t get an opportunity to place it somewhere until next week. This is a process for sure.
If it even makes one person smile, I think it will be worth it.