Videos

Lost Laurel TV: Laurel Shopping Center, Part 1

The latest episode of Lost Laurel on Laurel TV has aired, and is available on their YouTube channel. They’ve given me an HD version to post for my own archive, which is great, since the video includes some fantastic vintage photos!

This is the first of a two-part series on the history of Laurel Shopping Center, which focuses on the 1956 grand opening—including an itinerary of the “Fifteen Fabulous Days” celebration, the incredible promotions created by owners Melvin & Wolford Berman and Arthur Robinson, and an interview with Bart Scardina, Jr., whose father opened Bart’s Barber Shop as one of the original tenants. Of those original businesses, only Bart’s and Giant Food remain open today.

Part 2 will cover the 1966 expansion of the shopping center, the 1971 addition of Georgetown Alley, and the 1979 arrival of Laurel Centre Mall. We’ll also look at Laurel Shopping Center’s day of infamy—the 1972 assassination attempt of Governor George Wallace. We’ll be filming that in the coming weeks.

As always, a special thanks to Laurel Leader “History Matters” columnist Kevin Leonard for his segment, and to Denny Berman and Bart Scardina, Jr. for taking the time to share their memories.

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Lost Laurel TV: Halloween

The second episode of Lost Laurel on Laurel TV is now on YouTube! It’s a special Halloween episode, which Laurel TV has been airing locally every day this week at 4PM on their network.

Some of the highlights:

  • We get to meet Rich Blankenship, who operates Laurel’s House of Horror in the old Cinema at Laurel Shopping Center, and learn the history behind the movie theater and its recently-replaced marquee.
  • We touch on some of the ghosts of buildings past, including Fyffe’s Service Center.
  • Learn about the allegedly haunted Bay ‘n Surf restaurant, and the bizarre murder that may have inspired the spooky stories.
  • A tragedy at the 1980 Laurel Centre Mall Halloween Costume Contest, in which yours truly may or may not have inadvertently scared beloved Congresswoman Gladys Noon Spellman to death.
  • Laurel Leader “History Matters” columnist Kevin Leonard gives us the complete history of the notoriously creepy Laurel Sanitarium.
  • Was/is the Avondale Mill site haunted?
  • The spectre of the Ninth Street Bridge, and James Ladenburg‘s amazing miniature replica of it.

This was a fun episode to produce, and it’s wonderful to see some effects enhancements starting to come into play now that we’re getting the hang of things.

Now that there are two shows, one of the recurring themes you might pick up on throughout the series is the opening title graphic. For each episode, I’ve designed a “newspaper” front page in the style of the Laurel Leader from when I grew up in the 80s. It sets the stage for whatever the theme will be, and makes for a functional way of cataloging the episodes.

LOST-LAUREL-TV-INTRO-SCREEN-GRAPHIC title-graphic-main-street-6-final

Laurel Leader sample 1987

It’s one more way to have fun with this project, and as I get further into it, look for some even “older” front page newspaper treatments to emerge. 😉

We’re already planning next month’s episode, which will actually be a two-part series covering the building of Laurel Shopping Center—and there are lots of great stories and photos to be included in that one.

Special thanks to Tyler Baldwin for her hard work and patience, and for also fixing and re-uploading the earlier Main Street episode, which is available here:

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Lost Laurel TV: Main Street

By now, you’ve heard me talk about an exciting opportunity I was recently approached about—hosting a Lost Laurel TV show for the City of Laurel’s newly revamped Laurel TV. For the pilot episode, we focused on historic Main Street, and tried to cover the entire span block by block.

It’s highlighted by interviews with Laurel Historical Society Boardmember Jhanna Levin, who discusses the history of the Laurel Museum; Marvin Rogers, President of the Laurel Mill Playhouse; historian and Laurel Leader columnist Kevin Leonard, who tells the story of the 1911 robbery of the Citizens National Bank; and Jim Cross of the Laurel Board of Trade, who recalls the early history of the Main Street Festival.

My job is to introduce the show, and then mercifully tell the majority of the stories through historic photos and voiceovers.

Now, when I say “my job,” I want to make sure you understand that this is all entirely voluntary for me. I have no experience as a TV guy, nor am I a City of Laurel employee. In fact, I’m not even a resident—and it’s been quite a logistical challenge volunteering the time to produce a show about Laurel’s history when I live in Northern Virginia. But I’ve been willing to give it a shot, because I enjoy sharing the material.

And with Laurel TV being a completely rebooted venture for the city, there will understandably be a few growing pains on their end, too.

That being said, we shot the Main Street episode in September, and it has been airing on Laurel TV (Comcast channel 71 and Verizon FiOS channel 12); also streaming on their website every Sunday morning at 11AM. I just received a copy of it on DVD, which I’d hoped would correct an audio glitch at about the 10:18 mark. Unfortunately, it didn’t, but I’m going to upload it anyway. (As I mentioned, growing pains.)

The plan is to air a new episode every month, and we’ve got a special Halloween show coming up next that I’m really excited about—that’s already going to be airing next Sunday, October 26th. I’ll be archiving each episode and posting them here on the blog, as well.

So, without further ado, here’s the very first episode of Lost Laurel, the TV show. Hope you enjoy it!

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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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