Digging into the history of the round, painted boulder at the corner of West 10th and West streets is beginning to uncover some possible origins of what is becoming a well-known Tracy landmark.
When I talked to Ron and Lisa Sigg, present owners of the house where the painted boulder graces the corner of its front yard, they told me they had purchased the house in 1986 from a family named Brown.
That family has turned out to be Joe and Marsha Brown, and Marsha was the sister of former Tracy Mayor Brent Ives. That’s what Brent’s wife, Lynda, told me earlier this week.
Lynda reported the Browns purchased the house a half-century ago, in 1971, from an estate of an elderly couple, both of whom had passed away. The boulder had been painted when the Browns bought the house, and the Browns continued the tradition, Lynda said.
And she provided another piece of pertinent information. The Browns called the boulder “The Egg.”
A search of city directories listed the occupants of the house at 307 W. 10th St. in 1950 as David and Anne Walsh. David was an engineer with the Southern Pacific. The house was built sometime in the 1920s at a time when railroad families were moving here after Tracy had become an SP division point where train crews were changed.
The Walshes were most likely the original owners of the house and probably were the elderly couple whose estate sold the house to the Browns in 1971.
And during the days her husband was gone “on the road” as an SP engineer, Anne Walsh quite possibly could have taken a paint brush in hand and painted the boulder.
If not Anne, then David could have been the original painter of what became known as “The Egg.”
The decision to place the boulder at the corner quite possibly could have had a utilitarian function. West Street, as its name implies, was the original western city limits of Tracy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The wider part of West 10th Street ends at West Street where a narrower segment of the street begins. The boulder, especially when painted, warns motorist of the sudden change of the street’s width. Still does.
Whether it’s called boulder or egg, the continuing presence of the painted round rock has captured the attention of a number of Tracyites.
Mary Souza Mitracos’s email response is typical. She wrote: “Hi, Sam. Thanks for writing about the oval boulder in front of 307 W. 10th St. I’ve been looking at it off and on for longer than I care to admit. I’ve often wondered about it. One of those little things that make Tracy Tracy.”
And Bruce Roberts, who got the ball — er, egg —rolling, emailed me earlier this week: “Sam, really enjoyed the 10th Street landmark Tracing Tracy Territory column. I look forward to someday meeting Ron and Lisa Sigg and hopefully Mike and Katie Totes.”
If we find that the house was constructed and the boulder put in place in 1921, we could have a centennial celebration sometime this year. We can call it “a Boulder Bash.”
Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.