Tag Archives: Laurel Historical Society

Stefanie Watson Program: Recapping a Special Night

This past Thursday night, July 9th, I had the honor of giving a special presentation on the Stefanie Watson cold case, describing Lost Laurel‘s role in helping to reignite the investigation into the 30-year-old crime—which finally yielded an arrest. Nearly 33 years after her murder, the case is slated to go to trial next month.

The program was part of “The Rest of the Story: a series based on “Ripped from the Headlines, Laurel in the News”—the current exhibit at the Laurel Museum, which focuses on local and national stories and how they were covered locally. The Stefanie Watson case is one of the stories. The exhibit runs through December 21, 2015, and visitors to the exhibit can browse the Laurel Leader from 1897-2008.

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Presented by the Laurel Historical Society and hosted by the Laurel Police Department at their beautiful Partnership Activity Center, a good turnout braved some heavy rains to hear the program—including Mayor Craig Moe and Chief of Police Rich McLaughlin. My thanks again to all who came out, especially in that weather.

The highlight for me was one special surprise attendee—Christy Torres, who made the drive from Pennsylvania. Chris is the cousin and best friend of Stefanie Watson; the same cousin who had the unfathomable task of reporting her missing back in 1982, when she failed to show up for their planned trip to Ocean City.

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(Photo: Donnie Conty)

Rich & Christy

(Photo: Lindsey Baker)

I’d spoken to Chris at length on the phone and by email, but hadn’t met her until Thursday night. After the presentation, she said, “I have something for you,” and pulled out a beautiful, hand-carved wooden box. “This belonged to Stefanie.”

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It’s an incredible gift that I will truly never forget, and it will always occupy a special place on my desk. Despite having never known her, Stefanie’s memory was never far from my mind, all these years. I’m happy that it will be even closer now.

For those who weren’t able to attend, the entire program was filmed, complete with a question and answer session. You can watch directly on the link above, or view it here on YouTube. I’ll also be focusing my next episode of Lost Laurel for Laurel TV on this story, where you’ll be able to see the aerial photos, maps, etc. that were used in the program in more detail.

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(Family photo)

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Stefanie Watson Program Tonight

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(Photo: Laurel Leader, 7/1/82; Laurel Historical Society archives)

Laurel’s 4th of July Celebration in 1982 fell on July 3rd that year, which happened to be Stefanie Watson‘s final birthday—she’d go missing less than 3 weeks later. This banner, coincidentally, also faced her apartment on 8th Street.

Her tragic story is filled with some bizarre and amazing coincidences—join me tonight as I’ll share some fascinating information about one of Laurel’s most notorious cold cases, including some recent revelations that have never been published.

This free program is sponsored by the Laurel Historical Society, and is tonight, July 9 at 7 p.m. at the Laurel Police Department’s Partnership Activity Center, 811 Fifth Street.

More information:
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/laurel/ph-ll-stefanie-watson-program-20150706-story.html

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Laurel TV: Date Night in Laurel

Episode 6 of Lost Laurel for Laurel TV has aired, and its theme is Date Night in Laurel—a look at some of the favorite date night destinations Laurelites have enjoyed over the years, including movie theaters, restaurants, and special events.

One such special event was the landmark Laurel Pop Festival at Laurel Race Course in 1969. Kevin Leonard wrote a fantastic account of it for the Laurel Leader recently, and I had a blast accompanying him for an interview with Bruce Remer of e-rockworld.com at the site of the legendary concert. Bruce had been there as a high school student along with friend and fellow photographer Tom Beech—and the two easily mingled backstage with the performers, snapping photos with a Kodak Instamatic. Some of their photos and artifacts can even be seen on Led Zeppelin‘s website, on a page devoted to their Laurel performance.

This being a “date night” theme, I had hoped to have this episode ready in time for Valentines Day… but better late than never. 😉 Hope you enjoy it!

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Lost Laurel Wins St. George’s Day Award

This afternoon, I had the honor of receiving a Prince George’s County Historical Society St. George’s Day Award at the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, MD.

According to PGCHS:

Established in 1974, these awards are given annually to honor living individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the preservation of the County’s heritage.

Some of the names I recognize as past recipients include longtime Laurel Leader editor Gertrude Poe, Maryland Governor Parris Glendening, and Comptroller Louis Goldstein. Just to be mentioned in such company is a huge honor; and I’m so pleased that those who study and preserve the history of both Laurel and Prince George’s County consider my humble Lost Laurel project to be so worthy.

Prince George’s County Historical Society Board Member Lynn Roberts made a terrific presentation, reading a statement from Laurel Historical Society Executive Director Lindsey Baker.

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Laurel Historical Society President Steve Hubbard was there, explaining the premise of Lost Laurel and the work that went into producing the book.

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I want to thank the Prince George’s County Historical Society again for this award, which is a wonderful acknowledgement of a project that has truly been a labor of love. And a super-thank you to everyone at the Laurel Historical Society for nominating me in the first place (which I also just discovered today!) Thank you, all!

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Lost Laurel TV: Revisiting the Lost & Found Laurel Exhibit

Due to a busier-than-usual schedule, (and a few technical difficulties on my part) this newest episode of the Lost Laurel show for Laurel TV is a bit late… but it’s done—and better late than never!

I filmed it in December, just as the Lost & Found Laurel exhibit was about to close at the Laurel Museum. The idea is that if you didn’t have a chance to experience it in person, (or if you overlooked some of the pieces during what was the museum’s busiest opening day of all time) this episode will give you a chance to see it in full detail.

It also includes an interview with Laurel Historical Society Executive Director Lindsey Baker, who not only gives an overview of the show, but a preview of the new 2015 exhibit, Ripped from the Headlines: Laurel in the News—which has since opened. (Go check it out—it’s awesome!)

You can watch the episode below, or view it directly on YouTube at full size. Enjoy!

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Lost Laurel Trivia Night: Nov 8th

Looking for something fun to do on a Saturday night about a month from now?

If you’re in the Laurel area, join me at the historic Tastee Diner on Rt. 1 near Main Street for Lost Laurel Trivia Night, hosted by the Laurel Historical Society!

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This will be our second Trivia Night, having had a blast at Nuzback’s for the inaugural event back in May. Hosting these at locations that have served Laurel for decades makes them all the more fun, and it’s a great way to support local businesses.

No RSVP is needed, and you can create your own team or join one on the fly. The format is simple and straightforward—we read from a list of questions in different categories, all related to Laurel history (the questions are also projected on the wall, in case you miss any) and someone from your team writes down your answers. We may have a speed round, an “identify the logo” round, or some other twists; and there will be prizes for the winners!

The cost to play is $5 for non-members of the Laurel Historical Society, and $3 for members. All proceeds go to the Laurel Museum. The Tastee Diner has a substantial menu to order from, (the crab cake sandwich is one of my favorites!) and will be offering drink specials that night as well.

We’ll be providing all the paper, pencils and everything you’ll need. You just show up with your appetite, and your Lost Laurel trivia knowledge!

Lost Laurel Trivia Night
Saturday, November 8th
7:00 PM
Tastee Diner
118 Washington Blvd.
For more information, visit laurelhistoricalsociety.org or email director@laurelhistoricalsociety.org

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Lost Laurel Photo Contest!

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Want to win a free copy of Lost Laurel, the book?
Between now and November 30th, post a photo on the Lost Laurel Facebook page that creatively incorporates the Lost Laurel book. How you do that is entirely up to you, but have fun with it!
  • Perhaps it’s a selfie with your book somewhere in Laurel…
  • Or pose the book on its own in a legendary Laurel location…
  • Or surround it with vintage Laurel artifacts from your collection…
  • Or you can even use a little Photoshop magic like I did to send the book back in time. (See? it would’ve been right at home at Keller’s Laurel News Agency on Main Street in 1952!)

Enter as many as you like, just remember to use the hashtag #LostLaurelBook so your photos will be searchable on Facebook. (Or if you don’t have Facebook, you can email them to richard_friend@mac.com). I’ll select a winner on December 1st, and will mail you a free, signed copy of Lost Laurel, the book. It’ll make an awesome Christmas gift. 🙂

What’s that? You don’t already have the book? You can still get one at the Laurel Museum, or through their website—then get creative with your photo skills before 11/30 and win an extra copy!

Good luck, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!
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Lost Laurel Books… Thank You!

After nearly 20 lengthy trips to my local post office, I’m happy to report that all* of the Lost Laurel books have finally been mailed! (Cue applause!)

Most of you should have already received your books and Kickstarter rewards by now, but the final batch went out today—so everyone who pre-ordered should have their books in hand before the end of this week.

If you’ve ever wondered what the collective receipts for nearly 500 packages looks like, here’s a glimpse:

post office receipts

I greatly appreciate everyone’s patience, as I know this has been a long time coming. As I’ve mentioned, I had to package and mail each book myself, and did so in the order in which I received payment. So, there was a lengthy list of Kickstarter supporters who came first—many of which required boxes, with things like fragile Little Tavern coffee mugs carefully packed inside along with the book itself. I then moved on to the later pre-orders placed via PayPal.

The unexpected snafus from the printer really threw more than just a wrench in the works, as I’ve detailed before. Aside from their shipping delays, the limited-edition hardcover books inadvertently became even more limited when they mistakenly only printed 100 rather than the 200 I’d ordered. I ended up receiving a total of 143, which unfortunately still wasn’t enough. A few customers who pre-ordered hardcovers via PayPal late in the game will have to settle for a signed softcover instead—along with a Lost Laurel postcard pack and a portion of your payment refunded to the softcover price. (This has already been done, so if you didn’t receive a PayPal partial refund, your order wasn’t affected).

That drama aside, I’m glad to hear that the books are arriving and people are pleased with them! I even received an actual thank you card from someone recently! That wasn’t necessary, but it made my day, and I certainly appreciate it.

Going back to the very start of this project, I want to reiterate my appreciation of the generous contributions from so many of you–contributions that ultimately were the difference in this book getting made. As you’ll see in the book itself, there are two spreads of acknowledgments thanking everyone who pitched in during the Kickstarter campaign, and I’d like to publish those names here, as well. A very big thank you to you all, indeed!

 

Thank you spread 1

Thank you spread 2

 

*There are still a couple of you who ordered books, but haven’t sent me your mailing addresses: Anita M. Mueller and Geoff Childs! If you’d like to pick them up in person, I’ll be at the Laurel Municipal Pool Room (9th & Main Street) this Thursday night (April 10th) at 7PM for Kevin Leonard’s “History Matters Expanded” presentation.

The Laurel Museum will also be open that night from 6–7, and their gift shop has the remaining supply of Lost Laurel books for anyone wishing to buy extra copies. They also have exhibit posters available in two sizes, and designed by yours truly! I’ll be on hand Thursday night, signing copies. Stop by and say hello!

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“(Re)Collecting Laurel” presentation this Thursday!

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The Lost Laurel books are almost here; unfortunately, it sounds like they’re not going to make it in time for my Laurel Historical Society presentation this Thursday night after all. (I was planning to do both a talk and book signing). Four Colour Print Group has confirmed that the long-delayed freight is FINALLY cleared and being readied for dispatch, but the odds of it arriving by Thursday just aren’t good. 😦

However, my “(Re)Collecting Laurel” presentation WILL go on as planned—so please come out to the Laurel Museum between 6-7 PM and tour the Lost & Found Laurel exhibit, and then head over to the Municipal Pool meeting room next door for the talk at 7!

When the books do finally arrive, (and for the printer’s sake, let’s hope that’s in the next few days) I’ll immediately begin mailing out signed copies to everyone who pre-ordered, along with a full set of Lost Laurel postcards (and the perks those of you bought exclusively on Kickstarter). Books will also soon be available in the Laurel Museum gift shop, for those who’ve yet to order.

Thanks for your patience, everyone—and I hope to see you Thursday night in Laurel!

~ Richard

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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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