Ozarks Life: Matthew Garcia’s masterpiece on the point

The Ash Grove teen stacked more than 60 rock towers on a shoreline.
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 9:22 AM CDT
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ASH GROVE, Mo. (KY3) - As the sun sets on another summer at the lake, memories will live on for months to come.

Far from Table Rock Lake, in Ash Grove, Matthew Garcia’s memories aren’t of the lake but of the shoreline.

“I was pretty bored,” the 15-year-old admitted. “I didn’t know what to do. So I kept walking around and saw two kids building a... rock statue. I was like, I want to do that.”

“He kept talking about it and kept talking about it,” Matthew’s mother, Natasha Garcia said. “So then finally we’re like, ‘well, why don’t you go start building some?’”

The first night of the Labor Day weekend Matthew labored on two rock towers with his brother and called it a night. The next day, the ‘Michelangelo of the Marina’ built more... a whole heck of a lot more.

“I lost count when I went to 20,” Matthew said.

“I think by the time we were done,” Natasha added, “there were 60-plus that wrapped all the way back up to the marina.”

“I thought it looked pretty cool,” Matthew said with a smile.

It’s not as old as Stonehenge or as mysterious as the heads on Easter Island but the shoreline at Big M Campground near Cassville was awe-inspiring.

“And people were driving by (looking),” Matthew said, “some kids were like ‘nice rocks.’ I’m like, ‘thanks!’”

“Everybody just going down there and taking pictures just thought it was the neatest thing ever,” Natasha said about the rock towers.

The towers gave Matthew a focus that weekend. Anyone living with autism knows how important that is.

“That was his thing that weekend,” Natasha said, “building rock towers. It wasn’t overly stimulating. It wasn’t something that he got bored of. It wasn’t anything that was hurting anybody.”

Natasha’s TikTok video on the Table Rock Lake Group Facebook page got a lot of views, likes, and comments. Matthew’s 19 hours of scavenging and stacking were well spent.

“So we would get up, eat breakfast, and he would go down there,” Natasha said. “He would come back for lunch, go back down there, come back for dinner, and then be out until dark.”

Matthew didn’t have a name for his masterpiece on the point, but some towers did like Shade Rock and Mini Rock.

“I name one called Sad Rock because it kept falling over,” Matthew smiled.

And so the wait for another summer is on and another chance to bring joy to Big M Campground near Cassville one rock at a time.

“I’ve never seen him do anything like that,” Natasha said. “I’ve seen him do Legos. And he’s amazing at that. But now rock towers. And to some people, it’s just silly, but to us, it was kind of cool just to watch him.”

When the weekend was done, Matthew’s family did take down a majority of those towers; trying to leave no trace.

The family says they were overwhelmed with all of the nice comments from people at the lake that weekend and how it “made” Matthew’s summer.

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