What’s White Rock’s story?

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By Kirsten Laskey

Los Alamos’ history is well known. It is printed in the history books and mentioned in movies. But what about that ‘burb’ known as White Rock further down the Hill? What’s its story?

A talk, “The History of White Rock,” which will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at White Rock Baptist Church, will answer many questions people might have about the area.

Andy Long, a former developer in White Rock, Elizabeth Aiello, one of the first teachers in White Rock, and Jack Clifford, a long time White Rock resident, will share their first-hand information about this particular area of the townsite.

Los Alamos County Councilor Sharon Stover will serve as the moderator.

This event reveals new perspectives  about White Rock; the talk is part of a number of activities to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

White Rock was established in 1949, said John Hopkins, an anniversary committee member. The area was created to house construction workers who were building permanent laboratory buildings.

Hopkins encourages people to learn more about White Rock “because it’s just fun to know about their community and the White neighborhood is a part of Los Alamos and it should be fun.”

Additionally, as those who lived in the early days of White Rock become scarcer, this talk is an opportunity for people “to get insight into historical events that they will not be able to get first-hand in the future.”

Other festivities to celebrate White Rock’s anniversary include a  community party will be held from 5-8 p.m. Sept. 13 at Rover Park. During this event, Los Alamos Summer Concert Series will present the Laminators, a rock, blues and jazz band.

Additionally, there will be Jumpy Jollies for children and 60th anniversary giveaways such as key chains, stickers and other items. Vendors will be on hand with food.

The party also includes a geocache event starting at 4 p.m. at Piñon Elementary School and an ice cream social, and photo session for pets and owners will held from 3-5 p.m. at the White Rock Senior Center.

White Rock, similar to any community, has seen many changes but perhaps the one thing that has remained constant has been the boulder located at the corner of Rover Boulevard and N.M. 4.

In the 60s, Clifford said, Max Chavez, an owner of a gas station, now the Quick Stop, located at Rover and N.M. 4, and Cy Wanek, who owned a drug store, were driving and passed a construction site where workers were moving rocks.

They thought it would be great to relocate one of those rocks to where the gas station was so after bartering with the workers, the two men got a rock.

Clifford said Chavez painted the rock white, as a symbol of the White Rock community.

And for a time, it stayed white. However, Clifford said, someone, in the dead night, sneakily painted pink polka dots all over the rock.

Chavez had it repainted but the trend caught on. Eventually, Chavez gave up repainting it, Clifford said.

Hundreds of layers of paint have been put on that rock, he said; it changes daily. For the past 12 years, Clifford has photographed many of the pictures and images the rock has featured.

In fact, some of his images are being displayed at the Los Alamos Historical Museum in an exhibit titled, “Petroglyphs for Today: White Rock’s Rock.” The museum, located at 1050 Bathtub Row, will feature the exhibit through September.

The rock will soon be receiving another coat of paint.

This time, the painter will be CJ Buckner. Buckner painted a great white rock chicken on the rock to commemorate the area’s 50th anniversary and now, she is planning to do another creation for its 60th anniversary.

“It’s become such a classic enterprise,” Buckner said. “Everybody paints the rock at sometime for a variety of celebrations.”

There is no law that says only that only one rock can be a canvas for people’s creativity. During the celebrations Sept. 13, a rock painting contest will be held. People are invited to find a rock and paint it. The winner of the best rock will be selected Sept. 13.

“The rock on the corner of Rover and N.M. 4 … is very important in the life of White Rock residents and commuters,” said Bernadette Lauritzen, who is coordinating the contest.

She added, “It’s an important facet of culture for those who live in White Rock for celebrations and other milestones.”

The celebration of White Rock continues with a historic hike from 10 a.m.- noon Sept. 19. Participants will walk a partial loop on Grant Road. Dorothy Hoard will lead the hike.