Thursday, 03 July 2014 10:32

Rock Solid: Future Eagle Scout Pushes Onward After Fire

By Brian Cremo | News

MALTA — Eleven days away from his Eagle Scout service project presentation, Eddie Rock found himself and his father, Doug, in dress clothes, digging through the ashes of what was once their home.

On Wednesday morning, June 18, Doug was at his good friend John O’Malley’s funeral in Scotia when he noticed there was no music playing.

That wasn’t going to fly with Doug.

“I looked at [John] and he was laying there with a shamrock arrangement behind his casket and a harmonica in his hand because John was dynamite,” said Doug. “He was unbeatable on the harmonica. So I said, ‘You know, we have fiddles, we have guitars, we play Irish music. I’ll be damned if this wonderful Irish friend of ours goes out without a song.’”

Putting everything else on hold, Doug called Eddie, who is also a musician, at their house in Ballston Spa and said he was coming home to get the instruments.

Eddie, 17, was working on his upcoming Eagle Scout service project at the time. But he decided to join his dad and perform at the service—something the two had done together before.

Doug and Eddie went on to play acoustic guitar and fiddle, respectively, at the viewing. After, the Rocks were on their way to the grave site to play “Amazing Grace” when Doug got a phone call telling him his house was on fire.

By the time Doug and Eddie arrived at 424 Eastline Road, the Round Lake and Malta Ridge Volunteer Fire Departments had responded. The house, which had been standing since 1861, was up in flames.

The Rocks had lost everything except the clothes on their back and the fiddle and guitar they took to the funeral. 

“The front of the house was already burned,” Eddie said. “They busted a window and it looked like the inside of a wood furnace. At that point, I knew that the house was gone. It was unbelievable. You keep saying, ‘Alright, time to wake up now,’ but that didn’t happen.”

“We felt lost,” Doug said. “The firemen came at say 11, and we were back in the house by 4:30 and it was a different world. When they finally let us in they said, ‘You can go in now.’ Go into what? A charred cave? That’s what it looked like.”

Doug added that, for him, it’s “a happy ending” because no one died and the barn cat they adopted survived and is being cared for.

In addition to the multitude of instruments owned by the Rocks and the many antiques that Doug possessed, Eddie lost his computer, his scout uniform and his service project paperwork, including all of the contacts he had made to that point.

In January, Eddie’s Eagle Scout project idea was a Military Awareness Fair, where military organizations would educate on the specialties they provide to their community and country, while being recognized by the general public.

The project presentation was scheduled for June 29 at the Saratoga Fairgrounds, during Ballston Spa Family Fun Day. And losing his childhood home wasn’t going to stop Eddie and his previous six months of hard work.

“I just said, ‘You know what, I’m going to go through with it—I have to,’” Eddie said. “I figured it was my one shot at becoming an Eagle Scout. I couldn’t tell all these groups that I had contacted ‘Don’t come.’ I had already committed to doing it and I wasn’t going to back out.”

Among those organizations were Operation Adopt a Soldier (Saratoga Springs), Leatherstocking Honor Flight, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 358 (Ballston Spa), the American Legion (Ballston Spa), as well as Stars For Our Troops and Star Lady Susan Wells. Retired New York Army National Guard Maj. Curt Schreiner, who was also a three-time Olympic biathlete (1988, 1992, 1994), was also set to be on hand.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of hesitation if we were going through with it or not,” Doug added. “Through the crisis of losing your house at the 11th hour of a huge event that you’ve planned, you lost your paperwork, but what it took was some 12-14 hour days under the duress of not really having a place to live.”

While preparing for the service project after the fire, Eddie was also in the midst of upcoming graduation week.

On Monday evening, June 23 Eddie graduated from BOCES with a certificate in Heavy Equipment. The following Wednesday, he graduated from Ballston Spa High School.

Two days later, his scout master’s wife brought him a uniform adorned with a sash decked out by all of Eddie’s merit badges in the order he earned them.

Eddie’s troop, Troop 1, is one of the oldest of its kind in the state. The troop has existed for 101 years and has been chartered by the United Methodist Church in Ballston Spa the entire time.

“It’s a wonderful troop and I plan on becoming an assistant scout master when I age out,” Eddie said.

Eddie persevered and represented the Troop that he pours his heart and soul into by successfully running the service project at the Saratoga Fairgrounds, during Ballston Spa Family Fun Day, just as he had planned.

Schreiner stayed for the entire presentation from 3-7 p.m. and Patriot Hills of New York CEO Jeannine Mannarino, who helped the Rocks substantially after the fire, was also in attendance.

Doug had one word to describe the day, after his son’s Eagle Scout service project was complete: “elated.”

Now, Eddie plans on officially being an Eagle Scout by fall at which time he will also be attending SUNY Adirondack.

As the Rocks continue to rise up out of the ashes, Doug reflected on the bond between him and his son and how the fire is just another obstacle for the two of them. 

When Eddie was 3 years old, his mother, Tambra, passed away from asthma just four months after her and Doug bought the Eastline Road home.

Eddie also has asthma.

 “There isn’t much we haven’t been through,” Doug said. “He was too young to realize about his mother passing suddenly, but he knew she was gone. He has a really great aunt (Doug’s older sister, Phyllis) who stayed with us for quite a few years.”

One thing the two were able to salvage from the wreckage of the fire was some family photos and VHS tapes that were in a rubber-made tub. Many of the photos were from Eddie’s years as a baby and toddler, as well some of Tambra.

“It was almost like she got us this house and it served its purpose to launch [Eddie] into life, high school and Eagle Scout,” Doug said. “Now it’s almost like the house is with her. Everything she built for us in this life served what it needed to serve, and when it came time for that place to perish, there was no way Eddie was going to perish with it. There is a chance he could have been minutes away from possibly perishing (if he didn’t leave to play music at the funeral).”

Later evidence showed that the fire started right behind Eddie’s room.

The Rocks are currently living at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Malta. The road ahead is the pack-out: the itemizing and appraisal of contents and the structure of their old home. In the meantime, they are living on limited additional living expenses.

To help Doug and Eddie, a fund has been set up to except cash donations. Contributions can be made to “Rock, the Rock House Fund” at any BSNB branch. Donations can also be mailed to “Rock, the Rock House Fund,” BSNB Corporate Branch, PO Box 70, Ballston Spa, NY 12020.

Fundraising events, concerts and dinners are being planned as well. For additional information, contact Glenn Harrison at (518) 461-1295 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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