Tag Archives: Main Street Festival

My Main Street (Festival) Moment

It’s hard to believe a week has already passed, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t post a short update about what was, for me, the most memorable Main Street Festival of all. For the 35th anniversary, I got the chance to ride in the parade—and not in just any vehicle…

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(Photo: John Floyd II)

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(Photo: John Floyd II)

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That’s Mike Templeton‘s 1956 Chevy Bel Air, and it is all kinds of awesome.

Before we get too far into this, let me introduce you to Mike:

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The idea actually came from Pete Lewnes, whose enthusiasm for the history of all things Laurel is unmatched. Pete, who shares countless items with Lost Laurel from the massive collection he and his wife have built, mentioned that I should approach a longtime local car dealer like Fred Frederick about riding in this year’s parade in one of his convertibles—which would promote his dealership as well as the Lost Laurel project. Mike got wind of this and said,

“Lost Laurel can’t be in some new car! You need a classic!”

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Mike Templeton and Pete Lewnes

The Laurel Board of Trade liked the idea, too, and put us at #16 in the parade lineup—just after the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department and just before the Knights of Columbus. And I have to tell you, waiting in that staging area along Sixth Street—just a block shy of Main Street, already abuzz with eager parade-watchers—it’s quite a feeling.

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If you’ve ever wondered what the parade looks like from the vantage point of the participants entering Main Street from Sixth Street, wonder no more. Here’s a quick video I shot to capture those first few seconds:

At that same moment, John Floyd II—who’d taken so many wonderful photos of the very first Main Street Festival way back in 1981—was standing directly across the street next to Oliver’s Old Town Tavern, and snapped these pics:

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(Photos: John Floyd II)

I soon realized that there were a lot more people than I expected, and many of them were kids eager to catch candy. Luckily for them, I’d brought a huge bag of lollipops and was getting a workout tossing them to both sides of the street! I teased a few longtime Laurelites I recognized by suggesting that it was “thirty-year-old candy from Woolworth’s” and other Lost Laurel sweet spots like Gavriles’. 🙂

John Mewshaw, who took the following photo, noted:

“It isn’t easy taking pictures while being pelted by candy…”

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(Photo: John Mewshaw)

Realizing that I couldn’t take these candy-tossing duties lightly, I passed the video camera off to Pete—and he happily filmed the entire length of our ride down Main Street from the front passenger seat of the ’56 Bel Air.

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Laurel Leader writer Patti Restivo, who’d written about the Festival in that week’s paper, was on hand and shouted out, asking if I’d seen her article. She’d called me the week before the parade to get a quote, and we’d talked about several things; at one point, Patti mentioned how a former newspaper editor had once modified one of her stories to include her least favorite word in the English language—the word “utterly”. I told her that she should add it to my quote somehow as an inside joke. Lo and behold:

Richard Friend, of Lost Laurel, is riding in the parade for the first time with Mike Templeton in Templeton’s red 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible.

Friend said he remembers attending the first Main Street Festival in 1981 as a 9-year-old, when just walking in the middle of the street “created a sense of novelty and wonder.”

“When I walk down Main Street today, the ghosts of Laurel businesses past are with me, especially during the festival,” he said. “Riding in the parade is going to be an utterly exciting experience.”

— Laurel Leader  | May 7, 2015

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(Photo: Patti Restivo)

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(Photo: Patti Restivo)

All along the parade route, I saw familiar faces and heard familiar voices—including those of longtime friends and former classmates, as well as those I’d only met before via Lost Laurel. “Thanks for your awesome page,” someone shouted out; and if my day hadn’t already been made, it certainly was then.

(Photo: Billy Wellford)

(Photo: Billy Wellford)

(Photo: LaDonna Kane)

(Photo: LaDonna Kane)

After the parade, in between funnel cakes and lemonade, several people asked about the vintage Laurel baseball jersey I was wearing.

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Actually, it’s the shoulder patch that’s historic. The jersey itself is a brand new one I had custom-made by Ebbets Field Flannels to go with this original 1930s Prince George’s County Police Boys’ Club patch. This was the little league that preceded the Laurel Boys & Girls Club.

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(Photos: Mike Templeton)

The weather started out a bit sketchy, with light rain that wasn’t in the forecast whatsoever; but man, did it turn out to be a nice day. And even if the rain hadn’t let up, it wouldn’t have dampened it for me one bit. After the festivities, I learned that we’d even won a trophy!

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(Photo: Mike Templeton)

I saw a lot of folks taking pictures along the route. I’d love to see them, so if you could, please post them on the Lost Laurel Facebook page or email them to me at richard_friend@mac.com. Thanks to everyone for coming out and truly making it an extra-special Main Street Festival!

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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.

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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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A Neighbor’s in Need: UPDATE

John Floyd II outside the Laurel Art Center in April, where he also went to photograph the closing of another Laurel icon.

Last month, I wrote about the plight of John Floyd II, the kind and gregarious Laurel native who’s contributed so many wonderful photos, artifacts, and historical data to share with Lost Laurel.

John, who has lived frugally in the same home for some 46 years—the home of his late stepdad, Harry Fyffe (of Laurel’s legendary Fyffe’s Service Center)—recently saw his home sold at the annual Prince George’s County Tax Auction in May, after falling behind on his 2011 property tax bill. Earning only approximately $10,000 last year from his eBay sales—his sole means of income—and having been saddled with numerous veterinary bills, he simply didn’t have the money. And the county’s tax laws are harsh, to say the least—there’s no partial payment or installment plan; it’s literally all or nothing. John was given until June 30th to come up with over $3,000 he owed. If he missed that deadline, the debt would balloon to over $7,000 when the 2012 tax bill is added on, along with the usual host of penalties and additional fees—and that imposing total would be due no later than July 31st. After that point, John’s redemption window would be slammed shut, and the new tax lien owners would be free to initiate foreclosure and eviction proceedings.

Not wishing to see that happen to anyone—let alone a dear friend whose photos inspired this very blog—I asked readers to join me in donating whatever they could to help John meet these deadlines and save his childhood home—and you did.

In only a few short days, I’m very happy to report that John had received just over $1,000 in donations, renewing his hopes of getting through this harrowing ordeal! In addition to the PayPal contributions and checks, folks even offered to drop off food and toys for the many cats John takes care of. Others helped by purchasing goods from his eBay store and referring friends. And although our little benefit didn’t raise the total amount, it was certainly an overwhelming outpouring of generosity from people who cared enough to help.

Fortunately, another generous soul was willing to loan John the remaining $2,400 he needed, and drove him to Upper Marlboro to make the payment just a day before the amount would have more than doubled. The immediate crisis averted, John can rest a little bit easier knowing that his home is once again safe—for now. But the experience has understandably rattled this genial chap who’s so hesitant to ask for or accept charity, and he’s already stressing about his next daunting challenge: repaying the loan by the end of the year, as well as the new property tax bill, which will be arriving any day now. More than anything, John wants to avoid a repeat performance.

And speaking of performances, if you read the original story, you’ll remember that John is a wonderfully talented musician who has played with countless ensembles over the years. Unfortunately, that career effectively ended with the demise of his last vehicle nearly a decade ago. This past May, he marched for the first time in years with the West Laurel Rag Tag Band in the Main Street Festival. I caught up with him this past Saturday, as he once again carried the giant antique Sousaphone in the 4th of July parade on what was easily the hottest one in years. Like everyone in this storied local band that made its first appearance back in 1983, the heat couldn’t temper John’s patriotic and civic spirits. If tough financial times couldn’t do it, neither could this heatwave!

John Floyd (back left carrying the Sousaphone) marches with the West Laurel Rag Tag Band past the now-closed Laurel Mall during the city’s 4th of July Parade. (Photos: Richard Friend)

John marching with the band on another hot day earlier this year during the Main Street Festival.

The 4th Street parade route is a familiar one for John; not just because he lives only a block away, but because he’s marched it since his Laurel High School band days in the early 1970s. That’s him as a young lad in the front, holding the trombone. Bandmaster Harvey Beavers is at left in, as John called it, “his ice cream suit”.

1975 LHS Homecoming Parade. (Kodak 110 Instamatic print by Phyllis R. Fyffe, Royal Blue Ltd. archives)

John at the 1973 LHS Homecoming, with Drum Major Jackie Jones. (Kodak 126 Instamatic print by Phyllis R. Fyffe, Royal Blue Ltd. archives)

John, Jackie, and Mr. B (sans ice cream suit) at the 2009 4th of July Parade. (Photo: Joe Stevick, Royal Blue Ltd. archives)

While we’re still on the topic of parades…

Thanks to John, this year I had the pleasure of meeting band director Bill Stevick and his wonderfully talented family after the big event, at their annual post-parade picnic! Believe it or not, 2013 will mark the 30th anniversary of the West Laurel Rag Tag Band. It’s membership has ebbed and flowed over these three decades, but the band has literally played on—consistently delighting Laurel twice a year: at the Main Street Festival and the 4th of July Parade. I hear there’s talk of possibly retiring the band after next year’s landmark anniversary, but let’s hope that’s not true! The folks who make up the Rag Tag Band are the heart of these homegrown events; and in many ways, the very heart of Laurel. Make sure you see them next year, and encourage them to keep this great tradition going!

West Laurel Ragtag Band Director Bill Stevick and me at the post-parade picnic. (Photos: John Floyd II)

Getting back to the topic at hand, I’ve got a number of Lost Laurel goodies to mail out to everyone who so generously donated to John Floyd’s cause. I’m in the process of sorting through the receipts that John has forwarded to me, and determining who gets what. (I volunteered an auction of sorts for those who were the first to donate specific milestone amounts, and you guys are cleaning me out!) 🙂 I may have to contact several of you in order to get a mailing address; but if you donated $25 or more, please feel free to already go ahead and email me that information (richard_friend@mac.com), or send it via direct message on the Lost Laurel Facebook page. There are some vintage Laurel posters and framed Marian Quinn prints going to some, but everyone who donated $25 or more will get a reproduction of the classic 1981 Delaney’s Irish Pizza Pub menu. I’ve just had a supply printed, and they’re ready to go!

I want to point out, however, that the fundraiser is by no means over. We’ve helped solve John’s immediate problem, but his financial situation is still extremely fragile, and I fear it will be for at least the coming year. On top of everything else, John’s computer is now on the fritz. It’s nearly 10 years old, and it’s the very lifeline to his modest income. And there’s yet another concern—his home is without air conditioning. John has lived without it for years without complaint, but as he’s wont to do, he’s more concerned about the ill effects this extraordinary heat is having on his cats. Counting every penny, (and knowing that he ultimately needs them both) he’s trying to decide which appliance he needs to save toward first.

Those of you who’ve already sent donations, I thank you again from the proverbial bottom of my heart. I hope you realize what a genuinely good deed you’ve done, and how your contribution didn’t merely go to some faceless charitable organization, (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but to a real human being—a good man who’s lived right here in Laurel for some 50 years; a man who’s fought fires with the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department, marches in our civic parades, and who knows and appreciates the town’s history—and residents—like few others.

If you’re able to spare even a bit, I assure you it’s going to a very good cause. I’ve got a bunch more Delaney’s menus available for anyone who donates $25 or more, but please remember that you don’t have to give in the double or triple digits to really help John out! Instead of buying that cup of coffee from Starbucks today, or downloading that new song or iPhone app, please consider sending even a dollar or two to John Floyd—literally every bit helps. There’s no deadline or minimum donation to worry about, and it only takes a minute to send funds securely direct to John’s PayPal account.

If I haven’t already made it abundantly clear, John is a one-of-a-kind friend who enjoys sharing his vast knowledge and resources of all things Laurel—the depth of which continues to surprise even me. His most recent gift to Lost Laurel is one that I never thought I’d see again, and is proving to be an unprecedented aide in documenting Laurel’s retail history in the 1980s—nearly two dozen Laurel telephone directories dating back to 1986! These include ads and listings for the mall and all of the shopping centers, making it easier to determine when various stores arrived in Laurel… and, of course, when they left.

Not only are these books a treasure trove of dates and locations, they hold rare ads for places that didn’t typically run ads in the Laurel Leader—or anywhere else. Places like Pipeline Surf Shop, which from 1989–90, shared space with the legendary Bikes Plus at 308 Compton Ave.

Yes, I realize it’s a bit odd to get excited about inheriting a shelf of obsolete phone books. But from a historian’s perspective, I assure you it’s quite awesome. The library doesn’t even have these anymore. Moreover, they’ll provide me with an ample supply of blog and Facebook updates in the weeks, months, and years to come.

Lastly—and this is important as it undoubtedly affects countless others in John’s situation—here’s a link to a WTOP article from earlier this week that details exactly what John is going through with this property tax ordeal. It’s a frightening concept that many homeowners probably aren’t even aware of—especially when one considers that people are literally losing their homes over as much as $400. Here’s an excerpt:

• If the taxes aren’t paid, the government auctions the lien to investors. Past investors include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and people who respond to Internet get-rich schemes, the report said. Homes typically are sold at steep discounts.

• For a limited time, the homeowner may buy back the home by paying to the investors the purchase price of the lien, plus interest, fees and other costs. That’s possible because investors haven’t bought the home itself _ they have purchased the tax lien, which gives them the right to seize the home later.

• If the owner fails to pay all the costs, investors can sell the home at a big profit compared with the cost of buying the tax lien.

The report said state governments should make it easier for homeowners to retake their homes after tax lien sales. It said they should limit the interest and penalties investors can charge and increase court oversight.

It also called on local governments to let people pay back taxes or fees to investors on an installment plan, and to increase notice to homeowners and make sure they understand their rights.

Tax lien sales differ from most foreclosures, which happen when people fall behind on mortgage payments. In many states, homes sold because of tax debts can be sold for only the amount of back taxes owed.

That means a $200,000 home might fetch only $1,200, the report said. In the process, homeowners can lose thousands of dollars in home equity that they have built up by making monthly payments.

Kudos to WTOP for shining a light on this, and hopefully enough voices will be heard to convince local governments to at least start making it easier for people—honest people like John who’ve fallen on tough times—to bring their payments up to date without the unnecessary threat of actually losing their homes.

Many thanks again to you all—please keep the good will coming, and let’s make sure our friend John is securely back on his feet once and for all!

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A Neighbor’s In Need: Let’s Help!

Last Fall, I was researching the history of Steward Manor Apartments when I stumbled across a photo on eBay.

Photo: John Floyd II, 1974.

It was part of a set of ten original prints being offered, which documented various vehicles from the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department and Laurel Rescue Squad in the 1970s. This particular image featured Laurel Rescue 19 (also known as “The Heavy”) leaving its quarters and turning onto Lafayette Ave.; and there in the distance was the familiar southwest corner of my old neighborhood—Steward Manor Apartments. Even the old red Volkswagen Karmann Ghia I remember walking past so many times en route to 7-Eleven, Dart Drug, or the mall was captured—parked right there where I remember it always sitting.

I eagerly bought the photos; and having noticed several other sets for sale, I messaged the seller, John Floyd II, who manages a wonderfully eclectic eBay store—Blackpool Bertie’s Railway Shop. I wondered if perhaps he had any other vintage photos of Steward Manor in his collection. We chatted back and forth, as I explained the premise of my research. I learned that John was a former fireman, and over the years (both before and after his tenures with volunteer fire companies in Laurel and New Jersey) he had diligently photographed firefighting apparatus, training exercises, and countless fires and accident scenes. Aside from this one photo, he didn’t recall having any others of Steward Manor; because as he explained, the old complex was virtually fireproof. He promised to take a look through his archives, though, and would let me know if he came across anything.

In the meantime, I began to take note of some of the other photos he was selling—photos that in a roundabout way, captured images of the Laurel, MD I used to know. Behind the firetrucks were long-gone storefronts from Laurel Shopping Center… the old Fair Lanes bowling alley sign… and a number of stunning photos from the very first Main Street Festival in 1981. I eagerly bought these, as well; and in effect, they turned out to be the inspiration for starting Lost Laurel. You’ve undoubtedly seen these photos throughout the blog and Facebook page.

Over the past several months, John has not only contributed more invaluable photos and historic information, he has become a good friend.

He’s also a bit of living Laurel history, himself. As a young lad, (as he might say in his subtle British accent) he and his mother came to America in 1957, settling in Laurel in 1964. Not long thereafter, his mom met and wed Mr. Harry Fyffe, co-owner (with his brother Walter) of the legendary Fyffe’s Service Center that stood at Montgomery and 10th Streets for so many years. By his early teens, John was helping out behind the bar, eagerly pulling pints for the regulars!

Still living in Laurel, (he’s lived in the same modest home since childhood—going on 50 years) he’s an active civic booster for the community, and for the nearby Laurel Police Department in particular. He’s also a fine horn player, as well. That was him you may have seen carrying the big antique silver Sousaphone, marching along with the West Laurel Rag Tag Band in this year’s Main Street Festival parade!

John has already shared with me a wealth of knowledge and photos of vintage Laurel—the likes of which I could not possibly have come across on my own. In fact, I’ve merely scratched the surface in terms of curating his vast contributions for Lost Laurel. Wait until you get a load of some of the treasures he’s shared from the 1960s and earlier—who knew Pal Jack’s was once a Bendix and Philco radio shop?!

Main Street in the 1940s… (Photo courtesy John Floyd II, from the collection of Harry Fyffe)

…and the same spot in 2007. (Photo: John Floyd II)

I can say with certainty that without John’s help, there wouldn’t be a Lost Laurel.

Much has happened in just the eight months since I’ve started this project. I’ve been interviewed by the Laurel Leader, and I’ve seen the Lost Laurel Facebook page grow to over 1200 fans. I’ve watched the blog soar to over 24,000 views. That was the good news. The bad news is that I’ve also seen more of the old Laurel fall—literally, in the case of the recent demolition of the blue American National Bank building. Also closing for good were my beloved Laurel Art Center, and even the Laurel Mall—something I never dreamed would’ve occurred in my lifetime, having grown up in its heyday.

Coincidentally, who walked over to the mall to photograph and share with Lost Laurel the very first photos of the “permanently closed for business” signs on the locked doors? John Floyd did.

Photos: John Floyd II

Unfortunately, there’s more bad news looming. This one isn’t about a longtime business closing, or an iconic building being razed. This one affects John personally; and for him, it could certainly be the toughest loss of all. He’s at risk of losing his home.

After missing a property tax deadline, I’ve learned that John’s home was actually SOLD at the county’s annual Tax Auction in May. He now has a very small redemption window in which to pay off the tax penalty, otherwise he’ll lose everything.

John would never ask for any kind of charity himself, so I’m going to pitch in and try to help. In fact, I’ve already gotten an earful from him for simply suggesting this little benefit idea. But I have to believe that at least a few of the folks who follow Lost Laurel will sympathize, and find it in their hearts to contribute whatever they can. And this is just too important to not at least try.

Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that John has been in a very tight financial spot for quite some time now. He has been without a car for nearly a decade, which not only limits his general mobility, but effectively ended his regular occupation as a musician with various orchestras and dance bands, jazz and ragtime bands, brass bands, and other vintage-style musical ensembles. It was a career he enjoyed for 26 years, working several thousand gigs overall. But without transportation, that work dried up years ago. Likewise, he’s been unable to sell his wares at firemen’s conventions and trade shows—something else that once regularly supplemented his pay.
His eBay sales have become his sole means of income, making him entirely dependent upon the computer for all of his meager earnings.

And unfortunately, his sales have dropped dramatically (by over 60%) in the current recession. An emergency veterinary bill for one of his many cats set him back a hefty sum earlier this year, and that only added to the larger problem—trying to meet the overdue property tax bill to the tune of nearly $3,300. And if it’s not paid by June 30th, the amount will increase to over $7,000 when Prince George’s County adds the 2012 tax bill (along with interest and penalties, legal and court costs, as well as “advertising costs” for the Tax Auction that has put his home at risk). Finally, if the full amount isn’t paid by July 31st, his redemption window slams shut and the new property owners will be free to initiate foreclosure and eviction proceedings. It’s a process that’s every bit as harsh as it sounds.

There’s some irony here, too. As a homeowner, John isn’t eligible for any kind of public assistance—not that he’d willingly accept it. If he were to be evicted, however, he’d likely be free to receive any number of benefits. He doesn’t want those handouts; he simply wants to pay off his debts and remain in the only home he’s known for the past 46 years. I’m hoping we can help him do that.

Unfortunately, P.G. County isn’t flexible in the least. Nor are they interested in John’s or anyone else’s problems. There’s no negotiating with them on the amounts or the due dates. It’s literally all or nothing.

Knowing that most of us are so routinely asked to contribute to various charities—we donate to our kids’ fundraisers; we contribute to relay races for cancer research; we send money to groups who build homes for homeless families in foreign countries—I realize that the bombardment of solicitations can be draining; which is why I very rarely ask for such favors. But I’m going to ask an important favor now—on behalf of a good friend in a time of need who has done so much for Lost Laurel.

If you would, kindly donate whatever you can to John Floyd. His email address is royalbluelimited@aol.com, and it is set up to receive PayPal payments. It could be a little or a lot—every dollar adds up. Most importantly, you will know that your contribution isn’t going to some anonymous organization. It’s going directly toward helping a fellow Laurelite in need—and a genuinely good bloke, as John would say. It’ll literally help him save his home.

To help kickstart this benefit, I’m also going to be offering a few special Lost Laurel incentive prizes to those who donate the most.
• All
contributions of $25 and over will receive a full-size, double-sided reproduction of a classic Jack Delaney’s Irish Pizza Pub carryout menu from 1981.
• The first two contributions of $50 or more will receive an original 24″ x 36″ lushly illustrated poster map of Laurel from 1993.
• The first contribution of $100 or more will receive a limited edition Marian Quinn print of the iconic Cook’s Hardware building, matted and framed by the Laurel Art Center.
• And the first contribution of $250 or more will receive a framed 23″ x 30″ vintage 1990s illustration of Main Street businesses—which hung hidden for years in the Laurel Art Center.

These are but a few things that I can offer for what I would consider substantial donations, but I would strongly encourage everyone who reads this to consider sending any amount they can, no matter how small. It truly will help. Imagine if each one of our 1200+ Lost Laurel Facebook friends sent just a dollar or two—John’s crisis could be averted.

There are other ways that you can help, as well. Please visit John’s eBay shop (http://stores.ebay.com/blackpoolbertiesrailwayshop) and buy his stuff! If it’s not your proverbial cup of tea, perhaps you know someone who is a railroad buff, a firefighting enthusiast, and/or a brass band, vintage jazz, and big band music connoisseur—trust me, you’ll find something they’ll appreciate! It goes without saying that John’s eBay record is a spotless one—100% with over 4,350 positive feedbacks. He takes great pride and care in shipping his items quickly and securely, too, as I can attest.

Conversely, perhaps you have some items that you could donate to John’s store that HE may sell. That would also be a major help. Please message me, or feel free to contact John directly (royalbluelimited@aol.com) to make arrangements. Those who donate the amounts listed above can also request that I give their award items to John instead, so that he may sell them.

We’ve all come to accept that Laurel is an ever-changing landscape, and a far cry from the town we once knew. Businesses and residents alike have come and gone—some of their own accord, and others due to various hardships. This, however, is a uniquely tragic situation that I believe we can actually help prevent. Please join me and pitch in what you can. Let’s make sure Laurel doesn’t lose one of its truest citizens.

John Floyd II outside the Laurel Art Center in April, where he also went to photograph the closing of another Laurel icon.

Please donate via PayPal directly to royalbluelimited@aol.com

Many thanks!!

~ ®

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Main Street Festival #1

On the Saturday of every Mother’s Day weekend in May since 1981, Laurel has hosted its annual Main Street Festival. The entire length between Rt. 1 and 7th Street is closed to traffic as pedestrians literally fill Main Street—sampling foods from local vendors, listening to music, entering raffles, and just generally having the proverbial grand old time. Now into its 31st year, the event has grown to attract between 75,000 and 100,000 visitors annually.

These photos, courtesy of retired Laurel volunteer firefighter John Floyd II, give a unique glimpse of the very first Main Street Festival—at a simpler time when a number of long-gone names graced the buildings that mostly still remain: Caswell’s Upholstery & Laurel Draperies, Macrame Plus, Laurel Business Machines, Dougherty’s Pharmacy, Barkman’s Florists, Antonio Gatto Custom Tailor, Laurel School of Classical Ballet, Pal Jack’s Pizza (closed in December 2010), Petrucci’s Dinner Theatre, Equitable Trust Bank, Laurel Printing Company, and Gayer’s Saddlery (now Outback Leather).

You can almost smell the funnel cakes…


Photos: John Floyd II
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