I first traveled to Laurel in 1972 at the age of 16 with my father to Mid-City Chevrolet to purchase my very first car—a 1966 Chevrolet SS Impala. While driving back home to Lanham that day, something about this small town left me with a feeling that I had never had. Over the next three years during high school, I frequented here often on Friday and Saturday nights.
In 1986, I settled in Laurel and returned to a lot of the places to find that most were still here; and the town—even though much had changed—still had that feeling about it.
A few years later in 1989, I met the love of my life—my wife, Martha. She is a native of Laurel and also has fond memories of the town that she grew up in. With her love, she has supported my collecting obsession.
Since then, we have amassed a HUGE collection of artifacts and collectibles from Laurel through estate and yard sales, flea markets, eBay, and even a few found many miles from home during our travels on the road. If you have anything Laurel-related, feel free to contact me. We are always looking to add to our collection.
A special thank you to Rich & Kevin for asking me to be a part of this. Without them, our collection would very well be enjoyed by only a few; and as time permits, Martha and I will share our items with all of you who have fond memories of this town.
Main Street, 1980
In 1980, Main Street underwent a massive transformation which included the upgrading of roads, the installation of curb and gutters, sidewalks, utilities and more. Here are some photos of Keller’s News Agency and Cook’s Laurel Hardware during that time.
Peter and Martha (Kalbach) Lewnes Collection
A special thank you to the former Public Works Director Rob Ferree for the photographs.
Key to the Past
Many thanks to Ed & Patty from Woodburn, Oregon for the vintage Howard Johnson’s room key. This has traveled 2,831 miles back home to Laurel and now becomes the second most traveled item to become a part of our collection behind the Vogue Dress Shop matchbook cover that made the journey of 8,622 miles from Auckland, New Zealand in 2016.
With Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadow on Tuesday morning, legend has it that we will endure another six additional weeks of the polar vortex. Check your hot water and make sure its working properly. If not, hop in your time machine and call John T. Quill.
The Coronavirus Find
Since the beginning of March, Martha and I have pretty much been self-quarantined and passing the time by sorting our collection and house hunting online. A few weeks ago I returned back to work, and while breaking for lunch one day last week, I saw my first estate sale—I could not resist and had to stop. After looking thru and finding a few neat items, I went to pay for them. It was then I recognized the face of the woman I was talking to. Not much on names, but I felt strongly that we knew each other. After a little back and forth conversation, we found that we both attended high school together with Cathie being a sophomore and myself a senior. It was then when leaving, I told her about the Laurel History Boys and my obsession with searching for items from Laurel. A few hours later, Cathie presented these to me. Not one of the items did we own until today.
Saved from the landfill by the Marton family when Cook’s Hardware closed in the summer of 1997. Almost 23 years later to the day saved again, this time by myself and after a good cleaning will become a display rack for some of our Laurel collection.
Many thanks to my high school alumni & new Laurel picker!
Somebody Get Me a Doctor
Those lyrics from a Van Halen song of the same name may hit a little too close to home these days, in this time of the pandemic. But with our health (and sanity) in the forefront, it’s an opportunity to take a look back at some pieces that represent healthcare in Laurel.
All photos: Pete and Martha (Kalbach) Lewnes Collection
Drugstores and pharmacies:
The Laurel Sanitarium:
Let’s not forget the healthcare of our canine and feline friends:
In 1943, William and Alma Blitz opened Laurel Automotive in the building across Ninth Street from the old fire department and then relocated to the We-Wash-It building on Montgomery Street. Alma herself was a true pioneer of sorts for not only working in but owning an auto parts business.
In 1945, S.I. Snyder (father of Lillian “Bee Bee” Light of Light’s Shoe Store) owned a lot of local property and offered the building at 363 Main Street for rent. William and Alma purchased the building from him sometime in the 70’s.
Laurel Automotive didn’t become Laurel Napa until purchased by the Blitz brothers, Billy and Jeff. This was one of the very last independent Napa stores in the the country until the brothers sold the business after 67 years to Napa corporate two years ago this month, and relocated to North Laurel.
Pete and Martha (Kalbach) Lewnes Collection
An Evening Out With Laurel’s Very Own Marty Friedman
Last Sunday nite with the boys, Willem & Mitchell, the three of us set out to see Marty’s last show of his 2019 U.S. tour at the Ottobar in Baltimore. Sold out and standing room only. Much like last year, the band remained the same with bassist Kiyoshi, guitarist Jordan Ziff and the replacement on drums by “WILD MAN” Chargeeee. It does not get any better than this and the opening acts were a great group of guys to chat with after the show.
I was able to spend a few moments with Marty backstage and pick his brain about a few photographs that I found in Laurel late last year. Marty stated that there was only one he had ever seen before—they were of his band Hawaii, and were shot at the gig he played at the Andrews Outdoor Theatre in Honolulu in 1982.
That being said, I felt that they needed to go back home and gave them to Marty much to his surprise. He couldn’t thank me enough, but it came with a catch. I presented him with a Laurel History Boys cap, t-shirt, and sticker with the promise of him sporting them and placing the sticker somewhere cool back home in Tokyo. We look forward to that photograph when time permits.
Thanks again Marty for a good time and as always, I will be in touch. Til then, take care of yourself, Pete.
October 1, 2018
Real Men Wear Pink
A very special “Thank You” to a good friend, former Laurel police officer and newly-elected city councilman Carl DeWalt for the great addition to our collection.
In 2013, the Laurel Police Department went pink in October for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in an effort to raise awareness and support those with the disease. This badge will always hold a special place for me, since my wife Martha is now an 11-year cancer survivor.
The Laurel History Boys are also excited to announce the formation of our team in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life—a tremendous event held in Laurel on Saturday, June 8th. You can help us raise proceeds for the American Cancer Society by making even a small donation. We’d also welcome you to join our team, or volunteer in any capacity.
Can you help us? The “Donate” button below will take you to our team page.
April 22, 2018
Marty Friedman Update
After having the pleasure of seeing Marty last year in Baltimore, I look forward to this release in the future. The hospitality to all his fans is next to none. One Class Act! This Guitar God has never forgotten where and when it all started. If you ever have the chance to see Marty on tour and remember the good ole days with Deuce in West Laurel and Delaney’s, you will not be disappointed. I along with my nephews await your return to the area. The time spent together and the stories of Laurel will never be forgotten. My very best to you, Marty.
April 1, 2018
Let’s Hop Down Memory Lane:
Peter & Martha (Kalbach) Lewnes Collection—Personal Laurel Leader Archives
The 2018 baseball season is upon us and it’s time to “Play Ball!” Any help from our followers or viewers to identify the coaches and players would greatly be appreciated.
Peter & Martha (Kalbach) Lewnes Collection
MARCH 18, 2018
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day
If you follow the Laurel History Boys on Facebook and know who the child was in that last ad, please contact us… and let us know how the pizza was!
Laurel Leader Newspaper Ads, Peter and Martha (Kalbach) Lewnes Collection
FEBRUARY 22, 2018
Time For Another Clock
One can never have too many clocks.
Recently, I made the short trip to Halethorpe, Maryland and would like to thank Vicki for the wonderful donation to our collection. It surely will make a great addition to the other clock that we purchased years ago. Not much is known on how or when her husband Jeff acquired this clock from the long-gone Laurel Jewelry Shop on Main Street but most likely from some electrical work he must have done for them at some time.
“In loving memory of my late husband, Jeff Crockett.” — Vicki
Peter and Martha (Kalbach) Lewnes collection
DECEMBER 25, 2017
Season’s Greetings from 1949
The year was 1949, and “Season’s Greetings” from some of Laurel’s well-known family businesses with a few that still exist today.
Christmas did indeed come a little early for Martha and I this year. In September, we added over 1,000 different and some never-before-seen items to our collection from the Quill estate sale and will share more of them as time permits.
We both wish you and your families a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.
A sneak preview of more to come in 2018.
NOVEMBER 26, 2017
The Early Days of Public Transportation
Here’s a sampling of some rare public transportation cards—early equivalents of a Metro SmarTrip card, if you will—that feature some well-known family names from Laurel’s history.
Above: an 1865 commutation ticket issued by the B & O Railroad to Charles F. Shaffer just less than 5 months after the Civil War had ended—and five years before the city of Laurel was formally incorporated.
Above: a commutation ticket issued by the B & O Railroad to Mr. Morton M. Phelps in August 1912.
Morton M. Phelps served as a delivery clerk for the B & O Railroad until the early 1950’s, which entitled him to additional B & O benefits. Above are some of his early employee passes.
Above: a commutation ticket book issued by the Safeway Trails Bus Company in 1944, which featured stops in Laurel, Muirkirk, and Savage.
Peter and Martha (Kalbach) Lewnes collection – The Quill Estate sale
OCTOBER 15, 2017
Car Clubs of Laurel
GMC School Boys Pot Metal License Plate
Founded by Dave, Charlie and John T. Quill. Other members included Mike Cory, Timmy Whitehead, Edward Stull Christmas, and John Flester.
Information provided by longtime resident and good friend, Billy Wellford.
Would love to hear from any former members of the Ram Rods, School Boys or other car clubs from Laurel to share your photos and or stories.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter and Martha (Kalbach) Lewnes collection – The Quill Estate sale
JULY 16, 2017
Today in Laurel History… Laurel Furniture Company
75 years ago today, the Laurel Furniture Company on the corner of Main and Fourth Streets held a “grand opening”, as evidenced by this rare flyer:
However, according to this Laurel News Leader ad from the 1970 Centennial, the business had actually been open since 1904—so we’ll need to figure out what precipitated the 1942 “re-opening”.
FEBRUARY 13, 2017
Robert Stoner (1940–2017)
A “Celebration of Life” was held on Saturday, February 11th for Robert Lee “Bobby” Stoner, who passed away on January 8th at his home in Laurel after bravely fighting a battle against cancer. The event was held at Oliver’s on Main Street from noon until 3 PM. It was a very nice gathering of family and friends who got together and reminisced about how Bobby had touched their lives. The viewing of photographs from over the years did indeed show how much Bobby enjoyed life; and how much he was and always will be truly loved by all who knew him. I know that he would have liked to have been there himself, but I sure as hell know I felt his presence, and he being so very happy that so many had gathered to help his family in this very difficult time.
Bobby, I knew you for what now seems to have been a very short time, but the kind words and prayers that you and Wanda had for Martha during her bout with cancer will always mean a lot to me. Most of all, I will truly miss that cold beer, HOT peppers from the garden and “shooting the shit” about the good ole dayz of Laurel! The part of my collection that I got from the both of you will be cherished that much more and remind me of times spent together.
Rest in peace, and I hope that you find that cold beer and car show in heaven. Watch over your family as you always have and know that we will all see each other again one day.
You will always be truly missed and never forgotten.
Robert is survived by his wife Wanda Jean Stoner, his son Larry Stoner and wife Lissa, his son Tony Stoner and wife Darelyn, and three grandchildren: Colten, Amanda, and Fallon Stoner, as well as brothers Jim, Bill, and Danny Stoner and sister Marianne Gover.
If so inclined, the family asks that any donations be made to the Gilchrist Hospice Center in honor of Robert Stoner. The family extends a sincere thank you to the Johns Hopkins Cancer Center in Columbia, Maryland, Gilchrist Hospice Center and their wonderful nursing staff, and to all friends and family who offered their assistance.
FEBRUARY 7, 2016
Today in Laurel History…
Eighty-one years ago today in 1935, Shirley Temple’s “Bright Eyes” was the featured film at the Laurel Theatre on Main Street.
Bright Eyes is an American comedy drama film directed by David Butler. The screenplay by William Conselman is based on a story by David Butler and Edwin Burke, and focuses on the relationship between bachelor aviator James “Loop” Merritt (James Dunn) and his orphaned godchild, Shirley Blake (Shirley Temple). Merritt becomes involved in a custody battle for her with a rich, elderly gentleman. The film featured only one musical number, “On the Good Ship Lollipop.”
Bright Eyes was the first film to be written and developed specifically for Temple, and the first in which her name was raised above the title. In February 1935, she received a special Academy Award for her 1934 contributions to film, particularly Little Miss Marker and Bright Eyes. (Wikipedia)
FEBRUARY 2, 2016
No Place in the World That an Item Can Hide
Cheers to Lawrence Posa of 11 Tobruk Road in Panmure, Auckland, New Zealand for the vintage Vogue Dress Shop matchbook cover. This wonderful addition to our collection has just traveled 8,622 miles back home to Laurel. Amazing where items turn up so many years later and so far away from their point of origin; and of all the items that my wife & I have amassed, this by far has now traveled the longest distance to become a part of our collection.
Thanks again to the “City of Sails!”
— Pete & Martha (Kalbach) Lewnes
DECEMBER 15, 2015
Seventy-Six years ago tonight on December 15th, 1939, more than 300,000 people lined the streets of Atlanta, Georgia to catch a glimpse of the days biggest movies stars: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, etc. for the world premiere of “Gone With The Wind” at the Loew’s Grand Theater.
Just four months later, the Laurel Theatre at 312 Main Street would premiere its very own showing of the movie.
Twenty-One years after its premiere in Laurel, MGM re-released the movie as part of “Celebrating The Civil War Centennial” and was the featured film again at the Laurel Theatre on Tuesday, May 23rd through Monday, May 29th, 1961.
NOVEMBER 16, 2015
Laurel Political Memorabilia
Unlike most major campaigns, city and local elections have very few resources and unfortunately low poll turnouts. Most monies spent on campaigning come from either small donations made by a few or the people running for office themselves.
The countless hours and hard work by local officials that go into campaigning and running a city government are greatly appreciated—but too often go overlooked. The salaries aren’t great and most have other jobs; but the gratification to them is, for the most part, just being able to make a difference in the community that we live in. Thank You!
Arthur Pue Gorman for Governor Pin, 1911
Newspaper Box Insert featuring Harry Hardingham, 1956
Independent Campaign Letter & Business Card
1976 Campaign Flyer / Handout
1980 Laurel Leader Advertisement
Campaign Sign, 1994
Campaign Sign, 1994
City Council Member’s Re-Election Pin, 1996
Campaign Sign, 1996
Campaign Sign, 1998
Campaign Yard Sign
2013 Campaign Mailer
Autographs obtained at 2014 Main Street Festival
Campaign Yard Sign, 2015
Poll Location Handout, 2015
Poll Location Handout, 2015
Campaign Yard Sign, 2015
OCTOBER 31, 2015
Among the many things in our collection, I have decided to come full-circle where it all started and share a few of my items from Mid-City Chevrolet. Without that one day in 1972, my life today may have been very different. Our contributions to the Laurel History Boys site are dedicated to my father, who talked me out of a Ford and into a Chevy.
OCTOBER 16, 2015
I’m always on the lookout for matchbooks from any Laurel business of any era. Here are a few from my collection, which were used in the creation of a wallpaper pattern and exhibition poster for the Lost & Found Laurel exhibit at the Laurel Museum in 2014.