The Rocky States of America

THROUGH A TOWNIE’S LENS

By Jock Lauterer

Tiring of building dams in the mountain creek below the cabin, one day I spied a flat rock that had the distinct shape of North Carolina, only fatter.

Picking up the husky N.C. rock, I began wondering, what other state-shaped stones might I find in the clear gurgling waters of Silver Creek?

The following day, in the creek again, cooling off after my afternoon run, I looked down absently — et voila, there was another piece of the puzzle.

“Hey Lynne!” I hollered up the hill, “I just found New Hampshire!”

And so it went that summer, the Rocky USA took shape, stone by stone, state by state, until by late August, there on the old redwood picnic table spread out our nation in granite — the perfect marriage of geography and stone-masonry.

Over the years, my map in stone has taken on a more profound meaning. In my rocky USA there are no red or blue states parsing up the nation — what N & O editorial writer Ned Barnette calls “The Divided States of America.”

Neither are there alarming shades of reds, warning yellows and screaming oranges, denoting COVID-19 increase rates.

On this bizarre July 4th week, my Rocky States of America, with its serene harmonious earth tones and its palette of unity, reminds us that we are yet still one single nation.


Jock Lauterer began selling newspapers for Jim Shumaker and Roland Giduz on the streets of Chapel Hill at the age of 8. For the last 20 years, he has served as a senior lecturer and adjunct professor at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, teaching photojournalism and community journalism.

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1 Comment on "The Rocky States of America"

  1. Greer Dickerson | July 5, 2020 at 4:42 pm | Reply

    “The Media” has taken a tremendous, if not well deserved hit in the gut of its credibility in the last few decades. It saddens me because I know the integrity with which I was taught the trade and skill of journalism by patrons of the trade such as Jock Lauterer. Would that we could once again depend upon most to practice with the same skill and character as Jock! Oh what a world that would be!

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