Category Archives: Uncategorized

For Windy… and her family

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Over on the Laurel History Boys’ site, I’ve written about the recent, tragic death of Windy Floyd—a waitress and friend at the Tastee Diner, who was the unlikely victim of a murder-suicide on August 12th.

The boys and I started a GoFundMe page to help raise funds for Windy’s children and grandchildren, who are faced with the monumental task of picking up the pieces in the weeks to come.

The Diner has been raising money for the cause by going the more traditional route—the reliable old collection jar. And today, they gave us the proceeds they’ve collected to date: $516 cash, donated in bills of all denominations from customers and employees alike!

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It’s been deposited into the GoFundMe campaign, bringing the total raised (as of this writing) to $1,761 in just 11 days. That’s pretty amazing; but we’re hoping this is only the beginning. All proceeds will go to Windy’s oldest daughter, Lacey Petersen, to use and distribute as she sees fit.

The local community is proving to be both generous and creative in its support. Next Sunday morning, September 11th, Laurel resident (and Diner regular) Mary Piergalline will be setting up a small table outside the Diner to sell handmade jewelry—the likes of which Windy herself would’ve loved. Proceeds from the sale will go to this benefit.

You can help Windy’s family cope a little bit better by pitching in, even if it’s just a small amount. It all adds up, and you can even donate anonymously if you’d like. You can also help tremendously simply by sharing the link and spreading the word.

https://www.gofundme.com/windyfloydmemorial

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Lost Laurel in the Main Street Festival Parade!

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I was at the very first Main Street Festival back in 1981 as an 8-year-old kid, stopping at a crowded Keller’s News Stand for a cold Orange Crush before continuing up the full length of Laurel’s most storied street.

And while I haven’t been to all of them in the years since, I’ve been to many. But this year’s will certainly be a first for me—I actually get to ride in the parade!

Not only that, but I get to ride in a bonafide classic that epitomizes the Lost Laurel spirit—a cherry red 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible owned and driven by Mike Templeton!

Mike Templeton and family leading the 2014 Laurel 4th of July parade

Mike Templeton and family leading the 2014 Laurel 4th of July parade

Mike’s ’56 Chevy is no stranger to the big show; it lead the festivities at last year’s 4th of July parade, as well. Looking ahead, you’ll also be able to see it and other local hot wheels at the Sons of the American Legion Car Show & Family Event on August 8th, which Mike is organizing. I’ll share more details on that event as the date draws near.

But for now, I’m really looking forward to experiencing the Main Street Festival from a whole different vantage point, and hope to see lots of you out there filling the street! Laurel’s 35th Annual Main Street Festival is just two weeks from today: Saturday, May 9th, 2015. The parade begins promptly at 9AM.

I want to give a big thanks to Mike for the invitation, to Pete Lewnes for the idea, and to the Laurel Board of Trade for making it happen. Please join us for what’s always a fun and memorable parade!

(P.S.: I’ll need some of you to kindly take and share photos, please!) 🙂

The Deadly Mantis… In Laurel!

While chatting with guests at the wonderful new Laurel Museum exhibit, “Ripped from the Headlines: Laurel in the News” this past Sunday, (more on that in a near-future update, by the way) an interesting topic came up. My friend, Clark Shaffer, reminded me of a classic B-movie in which the town of Laurel played a cameo—“The Deadly Mantis.”

The Deadly Mantis

This also reminded me that, somewhere under piles of paper (and God only knows what else) in my office, I actually have a copy of this on DVD. I’d found it well over a year ago on eBay—after somebody else on Lost Laurel had mentioned the scene.

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And all this time, I’d never watched it. So, without further ado, let’s have a look!

Of course, none of this was actually filmed on location in Laurel; but rather, some Universal Studios sound stage. (Much like the 1997 Gary Sinise film, “George Wallace”—where the attempted assassination scene looks very much like the parking lot of Laurel Shopping Center… until one notices palm trees in the background.)

But imagine the unexpected excitement local residents must have felt some 40 years earlier, just upon hearing our little town mentioned in a real Hollywood movie! It was only late the previous year (1956) when Laurel Shopping Center first opened, and now this.

I’m just going to throw this out there: I doubt Laurel has an “official insect”, but clearly it needs to be the mantis.

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Video: 1989 Main Street Festival

Now here’s a treat.

In a recent treasure trove of Lost Laurel artifacts from collector Peter Lewnes, I was intrigued by this oversized video cassette. Apparently, it was a copy of the old Laurel Cable Network‘s coverage of the 1989 Main Street Festival.

1989 Main Street Festival video case 1 1989 Main Street Festival video case 21989 Main Street Festival videotape label

It’s something called a U-matic cassette, and it’s nearly twice the size of a standard VHS tape. In other words, it’s beyond obsolete in today’s digital world—which is probably why it ended up being discarded in the first place.

Nonetheless, I asked around (it’s good to have buddies in the independent film industry) about production houses that could possibly salvage the tape, converting it to a digital file which I could share here. After a few local places didn’t pan out, I reluctantly shipped the old cassette across the country to Portland, Oregon, to a place called HD Media Services which came recommended by a friend who’d had some old Super-8 films successfully converted.

It was touch and go for awhile, as I was told that the first transfer didn’t go as well as they’d hoped. (I never considered just how badly videotape degrades over the years…) Luckily, they were able to salvage it, and the digital file arrived today!

It’s a full hour of coverage, highlighted by the parade—with a number of familiar faces from 1989. There’s also commentary, identifying many of them.

So, get ready to step back in time 25 years. Oh, and pick me up some funnel cakes and a lemonade while you’re there, please.

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Meeting Bob Windsor… Again!

A couple of weeks ago, I had the good fortune of learning something new on my own Lost Laurel Facebook page. Reader John Mewshaw posted a link to a sports memorabilia event being held at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Listed there, at the very bottom of the page (by Cincinnati Bengals running back Ickey Woods—he of the famous “Ickey Shuffle”) was none other than Bob Windsor—the former NFL tight end who owned the wonderful Bob Windsor’s All-Pro Sports at Laurel Plaza Shopping Center throughout the 1970s and 80s. Bob was going to be there signing autographs the very next morning!

CSA Chantilly Show, Bob Windsor

It just so happens that today, I live only a few miles from the Dulles Expo Center; and I hadn’t seen Bob Windsor since I was a kid in his store nearly 30 years ago—when I would look forward to getting an autographed 8″ x 10″ with every purchase.

Bob Windsor 1980s autographed photo

A well-worn memento from the past, circa 1983

I made the short drive to Chantilly on Saturday morning, April 5th, and found the place packed just as it opened. Even though I knew where Bob’s table would be located, he was easy to spot, chatting with an old-timer from the area. I waited patiently behind the older gentleman, and when it was my turn, I said, (with a straight face) “Hi Bob. I’ve had this coupon for like 30 years, and there doesn’t seem to be an expiration date on it…”

I watched the confusion on his face turn to laughter when I revealed the “coupon” to be an enlarged print of one of his 1980s sneaker trade-in ads. “HOLY COW,” he exclaimed. “I haven’t seen one of those since… I don’t know when!”

Bob Windsor & Richard Friend, 4/5/14

I then revealed what I’d really come to do. I introduced myself, explaining that I’d grown up at Steward Manor Apartments just across the street from his store, and that my friends and I used to practically live there. Now a graphic designer, I’d actually created a book about Laurel’s past businesses—Lost Laurel. I leafed through the book to the 1980s section, and watched Bob’s face light up even more when he spotted pages 158–159:

Lost Laurel book: Bob Windsor

I told him that I wanted to give him the book (and some extra copies for his family) and finally say thank you for the countless good memories he and his store provided, and for all he’s done for Laurel, Maryland through the years. I had the chance to chat with him for a few moments, and he explained the history behind that memorable photo of him:

“We were playing the Giants—that was actually in Yankee Stadium. I had just caught that pass, (from quarterback Jim Plunkett) and was only on my feet for about a second and a half… and then got hit and flipped upside down by a linebacker and a defensive back!”

When I asked if he could remember who the linebacker and defensive back were, Bob laughed and said, “Oh, I don’t want to remember!”

We shook hands again, and Bob asked if I was a Redskins fan. Without getting into my long-winded NFL fan history, (which included a brutal 27 years, rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles throughout some of their lowliest seasons) I simply said yes—I’m finally trying to cheer for my own home team these days. With that, Bob reached into a folder and handed me a signed Sonny Jurgensen photo. (!!!) He then pointed to the sneaker trade-in ad I’d brought, and in a moment that transported me straight back to 1983, he asked, “Want me to sign that for you?”

Yes, indeed I did. 🙂

Bob Windsor's ad, 1986

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March 13th Lecture & Book Signing (…fingers crossed!)

If you haven’t heard, I’m giving a presentation next Thursday, March 13th at the Laurel Municipal Pool meeting room at 7PM. It’s a fun, interactive talk called (Re)Collecting Laurel, that discusses how Lost Laurel began, collecting Laurel memorabilia, and more. It’s totally free, and is presented by the Laurel Historical Society.

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The plan is to also do a book signing that night… provided the books actually get here in time. (!!!)

As I’ve mentioned, I had been told to expect the books around the middle of February, at which point I had planned to mail them out, so everyone would have them in time for this event—which the Laurel Historical Society and I have been planning for months. However, I found out on February 19th that the cargo container the books arrived in (along with countless other imports) was being held for random inspection by U.S. Customs at the NY/NJ port.

Nancy Heinonen, the production manager I’ve been dealing with at Four Colour Print Group, has been providing me with updates that range from optimistic to maddeningly frustrating. Her emails have literally gone from “…that would put delivery at the first week of March”, to “I’m certain you’ll have books for your March 13th event,” to “Since this is such a rare, extreme situation, I no longer feel comfortable giving you any educated guesses as to what will happen, or when books will arrive.”

The latest delay, of course, is the extreme weather that’s compounding things at ports all over the east coast. This isn’t just affecting their company—even the likes of Walmart and Target aren’t getting their goods any faster, despite their large influence.

She’s assured me that their freight broker has flagged my delivery as top priority, and is well aware of my March 13th deadline; but apparently that’s the extent of what they can do. Fortunately, she hasn’t given up hope—especially with the considerably warmer weather coming over the next week, which can only be a good thing. But that’s the fun situation I’m in: sitting, waiting, and hoping the books make it here in time.

She mentioned the possibility of “grabbing some cartons and shipping them by air”, and wanted to know a minimum quantity—but I made it clear that I need to have enough books on hand for those who’ve pre-ordered them as well as extras for sale.

I’ll keep everyone posted over these next few days via Kickstarter, Facebook, and this blog. And if the books do indeed arrive in time, I’ll ask that you kindly let me know if you plan to attend the event and pick up your copy in person. Otherwise, I’ll still plan on mailing the pre-ordered books out as soon as possible.

Also, after I’ve delivered all of the pre-ordered books, the remaining paperback supply will ultimately be for sale at the Laurel Museum gift shop—so you’ll be able to buy extra copies when you check out the new Lost & Found Laurel exhibit—which opened on February 9th to a fantastic crowd! While the Museum isn’t usually open on Thursdays, they will be open for visitors next Thursday night from 6–7, before the lecture.

I greatly appreciate everyone’s patience, and look forward to finally getting these books in-hand very soon. Hope to see many of you at next Thursday’s event!

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SUNDAY! SUNDAY!! SUNDAAAYYY!!!

If you were around during the era of small racetracks that regularly hosted local races, demolition derbies, and monster truck events, you undoubtedly remember the radio announcer’s rallying cry of “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!” For Lost Laurel, tomorrow—Sunday, February 9th—is every bit as exciting. And then some.

The Lost & Found Laurel exhibit has its grand opening tomorrow at the Laurel Museum from 1:00–4:00.

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The museum, located in what is believed to be the oldest house in Laurel (dating to at least the 1840s, with some estimates going back to 1802) is at the corner of 9th & Main Streets. Admission is free.

Even before it was the Laurel Museum, the oldest house in Laurel was a landmark. (Ceramic tile courtesy of Peter & Martha (Kalbach) Lewnes).

Both the Laurel Leader and The Gazette have been spreading the word this week, and the Leader will be covering the grand opening, as well! Here are a few of the media links to date:

Collectors Find Plenty of Laurel Memories  |  Laurel Leader “History Matters” column by Kevin Leonard

Amateur Historian Inspires Laurel Museum Exhibit  |  Gazette feature by Emilie Eastman

Laurel Museum Opens “Lost & Found Laurel” Exhibit Sunday  |  Laurel Leader web feature by Melanie Dzwonchyk

Laurel History Memorabilia  |  (Laurel Leader photo gallery)

Lost & Found Laurel Opens February 9  |  Eventful.com

While I did have the chance to get a few sneak peeks along the way, I’ll be experiencing the opening for the first time along with everyone else. When I was at the Museum last weekend, the exhibit panels had been printed but not yet installed, and many of the displays were only just beginning to take shape.

Laurel Museum pre-opening

I won’t even attempt to list the full variety of things you’ll discover, but yes—that is the original Hershey’s Ice Cream sign that hung from Keller’s/Knapp’s Laurel News Agency for decades. Beside it (partially hidden behind the glass showcase with the fleet of Lost Laurel toy trucks) is the cash register from Cook’s Laurel Hardware. Both of these treasures have been in the Laurel Historical Society’s archives since the businesses closed.

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I also have an update on the Lost Laurel book, as we’re all anxiously awaiting the printed shipment.

James River Bridge cargo ship 2/7/14

The cargo ship carrying the books arrived in New York yesterday, and I was told to allow an additional 7–10 days for customs clearance and delivery; so I’m expecting to have the books in hand the week of February 17th, at which point I’ll begin mailing out the pre-ordered copies.

You can still pre-order copies right here, and I’ll also have copies available for sale at my “(Re)Collecting Laurel” presentation and book signing event on March 13th—a fun talk that I’m looking forward to as part of the Laurel Historical Society Speakers Bureau!

But remember, you can also win one of the very first copies of the book at the grand opening tomorrow! I donated the two advance copies I’d received (one paperback and one hard cover edition) to the Museum for this purpose, so be sure to come out and take a chance! I look forward to seeing many of you there and hearing what you think about the exhibit!

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A Busy Week!

It’s a particularly busy and exciting week for Lost Laurel!

I’ll be giving a presentation with Kevin Leonard (writer of the popular “History Matters” column in the Laurel Leader) Thursday night (February 6th) at 7:30 at the Women’s Club of Laurel on Main Street. We’ve put together a fun and informative talk called “Lost Laurel Leader”, on behalf of the Laurel Historical Society Speakers Bureau.

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Kevin will discuss the Laurel Shopping Center’s unique development and promotions, covering it’s grand opening in 1956 to the addition of Laurel Centre Mall in 1979. I’ll be talking about the origins of the Lost Laurel blog and Facebook page (and the soon-to-be arriving book), some of the pitfalls a historian faces when researching these things, and how one goes about becoming a collector of Laurel “memorabilia”.

If you’re in the area, stop by and check it out! The Women’s Club is located at 384 Main Street, in the small building beside the former Citizens National Bank. Believe it or not, the clubhouse building was originally the Laurel Library, before it relocated to 7th Street—where it’s entering its final days before meeting the wrecking ball, as construction will soon begin on yet another new facility. But that’s another story for another day—back to this busy and exciting week!

The bigger event occurs this Sunday, February 9th, when the Lost & Found Laurel exhibit open this Sunday at the Laurel Museum!

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I’ve had the pleasure and honor of lending a hand (and quite a few pieces from my collection) to this exhibit, which is about much more than just past businesses. Here’s the Museum’s description:

How do You See Your home town? How do you remember it? Lost & Found Laurel, a new exhibit that takes visitors on a trip down memory lane opens February 9, 2014 at the Laurel Museum. Focusing on the 1960s through the present, the exhibit explores the shops, schools, restaurants, activities and celebrations that created a fondly remembered community. One section: “The Good Old Days…?” focuses on racial tensions, as a reminder that not all memories were good ones. As part of the Grand Opening celebration the first copies of Lost Laurel: The Book have been donated by author Richard Friend and will be raffled off February 9.

That’s right—the two advance book copies I received from the printer (one signed paperback and one signed & numbered hardcover) will be raffled off at the grand opening. Whomever wins them will literally have the very first copies produced, as the full shipment won’t arrive to me for another couple of weeks!

There’ll be much more to come on the exhibit, which will run all the way through December. But for now, mark your calendars and try to join us (weather permitting) for these fun events! Also, keep your eyes peeled this week for news in both the Laurel Leader and The Gazette on the exhibit.

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Lost Laurel for Christmas

After a whirlwind couple of months, the Lost Laurel book is heading to the printer!

I’ve completed the design, which included a few key last-minute additions, as well as a full index! Now comes the waiting game—waiting to find out the printing schedule, waiting for proofs to review, and last but certainly not least, waiting for the finished printed books to arrive!

The good news is that we’re well ahead of the May 2014 deadline I’d set for the project. But the bad news is that the slim chances of a delivery in time for Christmas are probably even slimmer. That being said, I’ve come up with what will hopefully be a nifty solution that will still allow you to give the Lost Laurel book as a Christmas gift this year—even if the book does arrive later.

Click on the gift tag image below and save the file to your computer. It’s an 8.5″ x 11″ printable card that you can use as a stocking stuffer—so your loved ones will know that their very cool gift is on its way… and will be worth the wait!

Click for full-size version, then save to your computer.

If you weren’t able to reserve a copy of the book through the Kickstarter campaign—or for extra copies—you can still pre-order them right here for the same price as they were on Kickstarter.

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Kickstarter Campaign Ends Today!

Your chance to order a Lost Laurel book via the Kickstarter campaign is ending this evening, as an incredibly successful 30-day campaign will come to a close!

There are still plenty of great rewards available, too—many of them exclusive to backers of the project on Kickstarter.com.

Also, you don’t have to purchase a book to be able to contribute; even a $5 pledge will get your name printed in the book’s acknowledgments. Every dollar helps, as evidenced by the over $17,000 this campaign has raised. That money has elevated the book from a 152-page print-on-demand paperback that may have yielded less than 300 total copies, to a 192-page book that will be printed on premium paper with high-quality binding; with a minimum 1,000 softcover copies to be available, as well as a limited-edition run of 200 hardcover books. It’s a huge upgrade that never would have been possible without your support.

You can see a preview of the scope of the book in this sample copy I had printed, but the final version will be even bigger and better. Over 20 pages have been added since!

If you haven’t done so already, please visit the campaign page soon and contribute before the clock runs out!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/richardfriend/lost-laurel-the-book

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