So, where did all these interesting and beautiful plants called "caladiums" come from? Who discovered they grew so well here?
They came from the tropical Amazon River Valley of South America. One of the first caladium growers, Theodore Webb, discovered caladium bulbs while visiting Tampa. He brought some home, threw them in the ground and about 60 years later, caladiums are a multi-million dollar industry and the bulbs are sold around the world. It could be said that as tulips go with Holland, caladiums go with Lake Placid.
But Webb did more than cultivate his 10-acres of commercial caladiums in the 1930s. He opened the town's first service station in 1924, the only one between Sebring and West Palm Beach. His Studebaker was one of the first cars in town. He sponsored Golden Gloves boxing and built a boxing ring adjacent to the service station to give folks something fun to do or watch. It was called "The Thursday Night Fights."
As popular as he was around town for his boxing ring and his quality tires, Webb's heart was in horticulture. The town hired him to replant and recondition the public golf course where Tomoka Heights is today. He served on the town council the year the town changed its name from Lake Stearns to Lake Placid, thanks to Dr. Melvil Dewey. ( But that's another mural.)
Webb worked with new procedures transplanting and propagating native trees, shrubs and ornamental plants. He built a rock garden where DeVane Park gazebo now stands. He had the first certified Red Cross station in our area and instructed Red Cross First Aid and Water Safety Lifesaving to residents of Highlands County and the Brighton Indian Reservation.
And, he was the town's first Boy Scout Scoutmaster.
|Richard Currier||Davis and Tompkins, Attorneys at Law, 107 Interlake Blvd.||N/A||Webb Family||N/A||N/A||TBD 1999|
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