Frederick M. Hueston, PhD

I was once again sitting in my favorite greasy spoon listening to the same old boring stories from the regulars. Flo was in a bad mood, and no matter what corny joke I told her, I couldn’t get her to smile. As she poured me my second cup of joe she mumbled something under her breath and walked away. I knew something was bothering her, so I followed her into the kitchen and asked her what was wrong.

She looked like she was starting to cry, and she unbuttoned her long sleeves and showed me this awful rash. She told me it was driving her crazy – it was itchy and no matter what she did she couldn’t stop it from itching. I asked her if she had seen a doctor and she said they had no idea what was causing it. Little did I know that her rash was going to help me solve another mystery later that week.

I finished my breakfast and just as I was headed out the door my ole flip phone rang. Yes, I still have a flip phone. Who needs all that high tech stuff? I purchased one of those fancy smart phones once and turned it on airplane mode, threw it in the air – and it didn’t fly. I also miss the days when you could push someone in the swimming pool without worrying about ruining their expensive cell phone. This flip phone was only 20 bucks, and listen carefully kids: It even makes phone calls (LOL)!

The call was from a fabricator who I had trained years ago. He first thanked me for introducing him to the stone business. He told me he went from a very basic shop to a high tech shop within five years. He had the whole works: CNC saw, water jet, laser templating system, etc. 

He told me he had an unusual problem with his saw operator. Every time he cut a slab of granite he would break out with a rash all over his arms. I told him I wasn’t that type of doctor, or as my mother used to say: “My son is a doctor but not the type that helps people” (LOL!). 

I asked him if his sawyer has seen a dermatologist. He told me yes, but all they did was give him some steroids and that was just a temporary solution. Well, I put on my detective hat and started asking him some questions. 

I asked if his sawyer breaks out into a rash at any other time. He first said no, and then he said, “Well, he does get itchy fingers when he’s working with the glues.” I then asked if his sawyer wears gloves and he said yes. I asked if the gloves were latex, and he said he’d have to check. 

He put me on hold for a minute and came back and said, “Yes.” 

“BINGO, I think he is allergic to the resins in the granite,” I said. I asked him if he had any unresined slabs. “Have him cut one of those and see if he breaks out into a rash.”

About a week later he called back and told me that he didn’t break out at all when cutting the unresined slabs. Maybe I should have gone to medical school – I could have become a famous, crotchety diagnostician like Greg House! Another mystery solved.

The Stone Detective is a fictional character created by Dr. Frederick M. Hueston, PhD, written to entertain and educate. Dr. Fred has written over 33 books on stone and tile installations, fabrication and restoration and also serves as an expert for many legal cases across the world.
Fred has also been writing for the
Slippery Rock Gazette for over 20 years. Send your comments to .