Frederick M. Hueston, PhD

Spring is in the air, and I decided to venture out on the motorcycle for a long ride. I got dressed, grabbed my helmet, and headed out the door. Of course, I first needed to stop by the greasy spoon for a cup of joe, some ham and eggs, and to flirt with Flo.

I parked the bike right out front and as soon as I entered the diner, Flo gave me a look like I was going to rob the place and then she realized it was me, and immediately started laughing.  “I never knew you were the biker type,” she said, as she poured me my morning brew.  I looked at her and told her I was the original easy rider.  “I should take you on a ride sometime,” I said, as I gave her a flirtatious wink.  Before I could start on my joe, my phone rang. The familiar voice on the line was a friend of mine, who also is in the stone restoration business. 

He started with some small talk, and then he told me he had a problem he had never seen before. Well, that got my attention – after all, I am a stone forensics expert. He went on to explain that he had been maintaining a black marble floor for the past several years and it was starting to show these gray blotches throughout. I asked him to send me a few pics and started asking him the typical questions. What was he using to polish the marble? Was the marble set on a slab on grade or was it elevated? Et cetera, et cetera…

 He told me he could send me some pics. He went on to explain that when they started maintaining the marble a few years back, it was a solid black color, and after a few years these gray squiggle lines started showing up, and now they are showing up more and more.  I told him to go ahead and text me the pics, so I could see it with my own eyes. 

As he continued to answer my questions, the pics showed up but I really didn’t see anything unusual, so I suggested that he give the owners my contact info, and I would make a personal inspection to solve this mystery. He told me he would have the general manager of the hotel contact me.

I finished my breakfast and looked over at the ol’ Admiral, who was sitting in his normal spot. He didn’t recognize me, but gave me a thumbs up. He then proceeded to tell me about his riding days. He was going on and on about his old Indian bike and how he traveled across the U.S. It was interesting, but he was starting to stray from his story, and somehow it blended into his time in the Navy. Thankfully ,my phone rang again, and I excused myself to take the call.  

The person calling introduced himself as the general manager of the hotel. He told me he got my name from my restoration buddy, and they wanted me to take a look at the marble lobby ASAP. I told him I would send him an email with my fees, and a date when I could take a look at it. I waved goodbye to Flo, saluted the Admiral, put on my helmet and went off for my ride.

A few days later I was headed to the hotel to look at this mystery marble. My restoration buddy was there, as well as the general manager of the hotel. Together, they looked like dead ringers for Abbot and Costello. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they went into the “Who’s on first” skit.  (For you young folks who have never heard of these two legends of comedy, look them up on YouTube.)

black marble with gray squiggle spotsThey walked me over to an area of the floor, and sure enough, there was this black marble with gray squiggle spots (see attached pic). I really didn’t see anything unusual about the stone, and then he showed me an area where the stone was jet black, with none of the squiggles. He told me that the ones with the squiggles were also once jet black. Then my detective light bulb lit up. I asked both Abbott and Costello if they had any acetone and a white rag. My restoration buddy said he had some in the truck, and he headed out the door to grab some. 

After a few minutes he returned and handed me the stuff. I poured some acetone on the rag and went over to the jet black stone and rubbed the surface.  I removed the rag, flipped it over and looked at both of them and said, “Heyyyyyy Abbott!” No – not really – but that’s what I was thinking. 

 I showed them the rag and told them that the stone had been dyed to hide the gray squiggles. The daily cleaning, occasionally polishing, and general maintenance had removed the dye. These squiggles were simply part of the stone’s veining.  The general manager wasn’t happy, but the facts are the facts. 

Another mystery solved. This one was not my buddy’s fault. He didn’t install the cut-rate marble, after all. 

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 .