Voices of Laurel

We are thrilled with the reaction to our newspaper, Voices of Laurel. We’re already at work on the Spring issue! Our intention has always been to produce a free digital newspaper to reach as many people as possible. Frankly, we didn’t expect that printing would even be an option, (at least not anytime soon) so you can imagine how excited we are to have partnered with Laurel-based newspaper printer, Comprint—a terrific organization that has also printed Laurel High School’s student newspaper. They enthusiastically agree with our philosophy of promoting local businesses, and as we are a nonprofit organization, they graciously agreed to print a limited number of copies at a reduced cost. At this early stage, we haven’t received any grants or advertising money, so this printing cost was paid out of our own pockets.

This weekend, we will begin distributing quantities of this inaugural issue to small, locally-owned businesses—and we’ll let you know where you can pick up a free copy. It’s our hope that this will help to further drive customers to support Laurel’s merchants during this tough time.

After the bulk of the newspapers have been distributed locally, we may have a few copies available to mail out to those of you requesting them who no longer live near Laurel. For that, we’ll ask for a small tax-deductible contribution to cover mailing costs and to help support our mission of bringing history to you. However, complete digital issues (PDF format) will always be available on our website, free to download.

For those who are new to our work, we are literally a three-man shop: Richard Friend, Kevin Leonard, and Pete Lewnes do everything—there’s no staff or anyone else. Please also note that we do this in addition to our day jobs, so we greatly appreciate your patience and support. The Laurel History Boys don’t charge for anything, except the books that we produce (such as last year’s Laurel at 150.) We rely on crowdfunding and sponsorship ads to cover printing expenses, and we’re actively seeking any businesses or organizations that would be interested in sponsoring tax-deductible ads or grants to help fund the printing of future issues of Voices of Laurel. If you have any connections or ideas, please contact us at laurelhistoryboys@gmail.com.

On a related note, those businesses and organizations that kindly supported our Laurel at 150 book will each be receiving free ad space throughout this year’s quarterly issues of Voices of Laurel as an added thank you.

A special note to the small business owners of Laurel: people have already started asking for Voices of Laurel, and we’re looking forward to telling them to visit YOUR restaurant, bakery, barber shop, etc. to pick up their free copy while supporting local small businesses! We’ve got a limited quantity, so please contact us soon if you’d like a few copies to make available for free to your customers.

Many thanks again for your kind words about our work. It’s very gratifying to know that so many in the community support what we do!

A Busy Week For the History Boys!

We’ve had quite an eventful week! It started last Friday with an invitation to kick off Fox 5’s Zip Trip to Laurel. We filmed a quick segment bright and early at Towne Centre Laurel with Maureen Umeh, showing a few artifacts from Pete’s collection and explaining the interest in hyper-local history.

Photo: City of Laurel

Maureen asked, “What makes Laurel so special? A lot of people pass through and probably don’t realize the history here.” Rich responded:

“There’s a lot of nostalgia…You think about the past, and the places you remember—but there’s a lot going on today that evokes that past. New places on Main Street like More Than Java Cafe—where I think, fifty years from now, people will still be talking about what a great cup of coffee they had there.”

We gave Maureen and the Fox 5 team t-shirts, and named them honorary Laurel History Boys!

Photo: Carl DeWalt

The following weekend, we hosted our first ever Laurel History Trivia Night at Oliver’s Old Towne Tavern. The event, originally scheduled for the previous Saturday, had been postponed a week when our beloved Washington Capitals were playing for their first Stanley Cup!


We set up the game with six rounds of six questions each, followed by a bonus round. The questions got progressively harder as the game went on, and were worth more points.

Photo: Rodney Pressley

The turnout was fantastic, with a great mixture of teams that included the likes of former mayor Joe Robison and family, current mayor Craig Moe, and City Council Members Carl DeWalt, Mike Leszcz, and Eddie Ricks. There was also a contingent of longtime Laurel Volunteer Firefighters, as well as the Laurel High Class of 1972.






The event was free, and prizes for the winning teams included Laurel History Boys t-shirts and stickers, vintage 1984 illustrated merchant maps of Laurel, and Laurel History Bucks—$12, $18, and $24 dollars off their teams’ tab, courtesy of Oliver’s!




Pete displayed a number of items from his collection, including one that folks were encouraged to interact with—the original Laurel Police Department mugshot slate board from the C Street location in the 1970s–80s!


We want to extend another huge thank you to Lenny Wohlfarth, Pamella Thompson, and everyone else at Oliver’s Old Towne Tavern for graciously hosting this event, and working so hard to ensure that everyone had a terrific time.



Rich: The Tragic History of Sixth and Main

(Laurel Historical Society collection)
(Laurel Historical Society collection)

Rich has posted a story about what might be the unluckiest street corner in Laurel—the bizarre and tragic history of Sixth & Main Streets.

In the span of less than 15 years, it saw two fatal trolley accidents, the suicide of a well-known jockey, and had a connection to a horrific triple-murder. All this, and even stranger coincidences…

You can read all about it on Rich’s page.