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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Hey, get a load of the rock he just got for her
A beloved chunk of granite catches up with the Pierces.
By BETH N. GRAY, Times Correspondent
Published September 1, 2007
SPRING HILL - Winona Pierce has rocks in her genes and, now, "the family rock" is back in her front yard in Windward Village.
She and her husband, Emery, acquired the boulderfrom a quarry she passed every day near their home in Clarkston, Mich., in about 1965, she said.
It is pink, banded with broad black striations. Up close, it glitters with bits of quartz. "It's a crazy rock," she said. "I thought it was beautiful."
Emery decided to indulge his wife. After all, she was the daughter of a stonemason. The quarry owner gave them the rock. But getting it home was a challenge.
"I had to call eight different places to get somebody to haul it. I finally got a tow truck operator who said, 'Lady, you've got rocks in your head,'" Winona recalls. He added, "I'll try anything once."
After much huffing and puffing, the rock, estimated to weigh between 1,000 pounds and a ton, arrived in their yard. Winona's father built a pool around it.
The couple moved to Davidsburg, Mich., five years later, and the rock came with them. "I would not move without my rock," Winona said.
It remained the mainstay of the landscape there for eight years.
When the Pierces moved to WPA Road south of Brooksville in 1977, the rock rolled south. They rented a lift and got it into their pickup truck, hauling it along with their more traditional household goods to Florida.
Three years ago, the couple decided to downsize and move to property that required less maintenance. They moved to Windward Village, but the boulder stayed behind this time.
Winona missed the big lug. Among their five children, it had become known as "the family rock."
Winona turned 78 on Aug. 18, and Emery made plans to surprise her with a big stone. Only not of the diamond variety.
For two months, he made plans to retrieve the unusual family heirloom. Emery contacted the family who had moved into their home on WPA Road, and they had graciously agreed to give up the rock. John Higginbotham, with a front-end loader on a tractor and a trailer for hauling, took care of the move.
Emery, her husband of 60 years, accompanied the gift with a card saying, "You are my rock." It was computer-designed by a daughter, Meladee Davis of Fort Wayne, Ind.
"It was such a surprise," Winona said. "I didn't have any clue."
In Windward Village, where people casually stroll, Winona has observed their reactions to the front-yard addition. "People walk by and say, 'Am I crazy? Has that been here all this time?'"
Winona admits maybe she's the crazy one.
"I love rocks," she said. In the Pierce landscape, she pointed out some of her collection: conglomerates from Arkansas, a rock from a gold mine, one from Marble Falls, Texas, a couple specimens from outside Glacier National Park.
But she gazes at the centerpiece with special affection.