Another sign, another mystery

23 Oct

I had another mini-mystery on my hands a few days ago. But unlike the mystery I tackled back in September — the origin of the James Carnevale Bike Trail signs — this quest was joined and solved within just a few hours.

It concerns an historical marker placed in front of a stately home at 757 Holt Rd. which recognizes the home as the birthplace of Dr. Luther Emmett Holt, a prominent doctor and author.

Last Sunday I got an email from B. Benson about that sign, who wrote,

During the weeks of summer, every time I passed the Dr. Holt house on Holt Rd., I thought about repainting the faded words and colors of the historical marker located on the property. It is an important piece of the medical history and of Webster. Dr Holt was an important player in the discovery of milk-related illnesses and other diseases in children.

Driving past again this week, I saw an older man in gray trousers, white shirt, paintbrush in hand doing what needed to be done: repainting the sign, dark blue background, and yellow lettering. It looked awesome when it was finished. I would like to thank him for preserving and educating others on Dr. Holt since it now can be clearly read.

I suspected my contacts at the Webster Museum might know something about it, so I forwarded the email to Kathy Taddeo, a museum volunteer and someone on whom I’ve come to rely for all things Museum. She, in turn, beat the bushes by forwarding the email to all of her Museum contacts, volunteer and otherwise.

Just three hours later, Kathy got an email from Town Councilman Barry Deane, who wrote:

I have been dealing with this effort for months. A gentleman inquired as to if he could rehab this sign. It was weeks of communications with Monroe County, some research, and acquiring a permit to do the work. We stayed diligent and finally were able to get the permit and the coloring.

After a few more emails, I tracked down that gentleman, and we met for a very nice conversation at — appropriately — the Webster Museum.

He is Webster resident Charlie Fallon, who explained how the project came to pass.

I’m staying with a friend (nearby). We do a lot of walking. When we walk in that direction I would think, “this sign is in tremendous disrepair compared to the other county signs.” So I did some research on Emmett Holt and he seemed like a pretty interesting guy.

His next step was to get in touch with the town, and Councilman Deane became his contact on the project. Deane consulted with Webster Town Historian Lynn Barton to nail down what the exact colors should be, and secured the proper permissions from the county. Then, once he gave the green light, Charlie said, “I could just go ahead and do the work.”

For about three weeks, Charlie worked a little bit almost every day on the project. Most of that time was spent on prep work, he said. The sign needed a lot of sanding to get rid of years of rust and grime. As he worked, several people stopped to admire his progress and thank him for his efforts.

When you talk to Charlie, though, you get the sense that to him, it was no big deal. It was just something that needed to be done, like his work with Foodlink and other worthy causes.

“I’m not the most ‘volunteerist’ guy,” he claimed, “but I like to do stuff. I like to be useful.”

“It was just a pleasant project to do.”

The Democrat and Chronicle published an article about Dr. Holt several years ago. If you’d like to read more about him and the difference he made in saving childen’s lives, click here.

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5 Responses to “Another sign, another mystery”

  1. Cynthia Lee Frank October 23, 2021 at 8:42 am #

    I saw that gentleman also painting and wondered who/why he was painting the sign. It looks great now that he finished. Glad he was acknowledged.

  2. Bill October 23, 2021 at 3:50 pm #

    Interesting choice of colors, when all Monroe County markers were originally a shade of maroon.

  3. Kathy Taddeo October 23, 2021 at 5:04 pm #

    What an amazing difference one caring person can make… and other caring people to help him make it happen. Thanks for chronicling this story and so many like it, Missy. The Webster Museum and Lynn Barton, Village and Town Historian, are happy to help with any other History Mystery adventures you undertake! KT

  4. Patti Cataldi October 23, 2021 at 6:26 pm #

    Thank you to Charlie Fallon, the Webster Museum staff and volunteers, and Councilman Barry Deane for making this happen. Things like THIS are what make Webster a great community. Thank you Missy for your tireless efforts to report the GOOD news!

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