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.
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.