THE LAUREL CHRONICLES
History Crumbs, Vol. 1
By Kevin Leonard | October 25, 2021
These short bits of history tend to pile up as I do more research on various topics. Unless otherwise credited, all quotes are from the Laurel Leader.
In May, the new city of Laurel imposed its first fines on citizens. Both fines were $2. R.F. Redmiles was charged with breach of the peace and Henry Marshall permitted his hogs to run at large.
In January, the Leader published “Her Ten Commandments.”
These are the new commandments ten,
Which wives now make for married men:
1. Remember that I am thy wife,
Whom thou must cherish all my life.
2. Thou shalt not stay out late at night,
When lodges, friends, or clubs invite.
3. Thou shalt not smoke indoors or out,
Or chew tobacco round about.
4. Thou shall with praise receive my pies,
Nor pastry made by me despise.
5. My mother thou shall strive to please,
And let her live with us in ease.
6. Remember tis thy duty clear,
To dress me well throughout the year.
7. Thou shalt in manner mild and meek,
Give me thy wages every week.
8. Thou shalt not be a drinking man,
But live on prohibition plan.
9. Thou shalt not flirt, but must allow
Thy wife such freedom, any how.
10. Thou shalt get up when baby cries,
And try thy child to tranquilize.
These my commandments, from day to day,
Implicitly thou shalt obey.
The first high school in Prince George’s County, the old Laurel High School on Montgomery Street, held its first commencement. The five graduates were all women: Laura Bentley, Annie Carroll, Emma Flester, Anna Hill, and Eve Phelps.
In June, an advice column that briefly ran in the Leader published this touching exchange:
Dear Sir, Will you please inform me, through the column of your paper, how a young lady can get rid of a persistent and tiresome caller without openly telling him so. (Signed) M.G.E.
Answer—You are in a bad fix, the only suggestions that we could offer are the following—First, plead other engagements. Next is to act natural, so horribly natural that anybody but a born idiot would take the hint. That failing, try palming him off on your family. Then give away his flowers and insist upon your small brother gobbling up his chocolate creams under his very nose. Next, abuse him. Then make appointments with him and take pains not to keep them. Give his dances to someone else. Shut yourself up in your room and refuse to see him and the desired result is generally accomplished, even where all other methods have failed. If he still comes, you can either ask your father to hit him on the head with an ax or you can ask him why he doesn’t get married, so he will have some place to spend his evenings. Then he will either propose or quit. If he proposes, you can refuse him, and he is sure to come no more—at least for a while.
In May, “the first military funeral in this neighborhood” was held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church for “the first of our boys in this vicinity to die in the line of duty.” The deceased was Vincent Beall of Jessup, who was burned to death at Fort Omaha when an observation balloon exploded and set a building on fire. “Arrangements were made to inter the remains at Laurel in order to give him a military funeral, which was easier, owing to the proximity of Camp Laurel.”
The Leader published this ad:
LAUREL HISTORICAL SOCIETY
In November, the Leader editorialized,
“Where do we go tonight?” remarks the modern sophisticated girl when the young man comes around to call. The good old days when the girls entertained the boys by sitting in the parlor and turning over the family photograph album or playing duets on the piano are no more.
That was a good cheap way of paying attention, but the modern young woman demands that the young man spend something more than the evening. Which is hard on impecunious youth.
And the expense of showing attention to the girls, particularly in cities of considerable size, constantly increases. Formerly it was considered enough to take a girl to some show, but now she often expects that her hungry voids shall be filled by a late supper afterwards. But if the boys did not spend the money on these girls, they might spend it on themselves in ways not preferable.
In November, the Laurel Elementary School PTA sponsored a play titled “Aunt Lucia” that featured a cast of 150 local residents. The play, described as “a burlesque comedy of American college life,” featured numerous prominent Laurel businessmen in roles as women. The Leader claimed the play “has numerous hilarious comedy spots.”
In October, the Leader published a Navy recruitment cartoon featuring Popeye.
In August, Laurel resident Harry R. Hubbard, 48, was sentenced to four years in a Federal penitentiary for posing as an Army officer, falsely wearing Army insignia and medals, and obtaining money by false pretenses. Hubbard, who had been a sergeant in the Army during World War I, posed as an Army colonel and fooled the whole town. When returning to Laurel from his day job as a carpenter on War Department projects, he would slip in his back door and then walk through town in an Army colonel uniform. In court, prosecutors told his story. After the bombing at Pearl Harbor, Hubbard disappeared for a few weeks and, upon returning to Laurel, told people he had been sent to Hawaii to investigate. Hubbard’s pretense so completely fooled the town that Laurel Police Chief Edward Brown had a police siren installed on his car, which, somehow, sported Army license plates. Laurel Dr. Edwin Bernstein gave Hubbard $45 while he posed as a colonel. Future Mayor Harry Hardingham, then the owner of a gas station in Laurel, told the court “He seemed like a regular army man. He never bragged about what he had done, though he always had a ready answer to questions.” His story aroused suspicion when he claimed he was flying Army bombers to and from Fort Meade. After his sentencing, Hubbard told the court he “always wanted to be somebody.”
In June, the St. Louis Cardinals conducted a two-day tryout camp in Laurel. “All those who plan on taking advantage of this splendid opportunity to see if they are qualified for professional baseball are reminded to bring their own gloves, uniform and shoes.”
In April, Laurel Police received complaints about a resident who was “practicing hypnotism on children.” Police urged parents “to caution their children against allowing this man to hypnotize them.”
In February, Master Sergeant Earl W. Sherman, who lived on Main Street in Laurel, was declared dead by the Defense Department after being missing in action in Korea since July 1950. Sherman had also been reported as missing in action during World War II when he was captured and held by the Germans for nine months. Between the wars, he was stationed at Fort Meade.
In August, the Laurel Junior-Senior Teen Club held a “Beachcomber” party, consisting of a dance at Laurel High School and then a swim party at the Laurel pool. Teens were encouraged to “dress as you would imagine one would look after living on a desert island.”
In February, divers working in 30 feet of icy water in the Rocky Gorge Reservoir found the lost boundary markers between Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Observing the operation was President Merl Myers and Vice President Thomas Burton, Jr., from the Patuxent Old Line Organization. “This is the organization which was formed several years ago by residents of the Brooklyn Bridge Road area when they were threatened with being shifted from Prince George’s County to Montgomery County.” The 8-foot stone boundary marker disappeared in 1954 when the area was flooded to form the Rocky Gorge Reservoir. The discovery of the marker meant that the existing boundary lines were correct.
In August, the Mayor’s Civic Center Committee presented their recommendations to the City Council. Mayor Merrill Harrison appointed members to the committee five months earlier to explore the feasibility of building a municipal civic center in Laurel. The committee recommended that the 18-acre site where the Avondale Mill was located be used to build such a facility, which would allow the municipal offices to move from Montgomery Street, with the remainder of the proposed civic center to house a convention hall with multiple meeting rooms and kitchens. There was no mention in the News Leader if the Avondale Mill was to be torn down or left as is. Obviously, the plans never came to fruition.
In August, a mother of four children was arrested by Laurel Police at her townhouse in Milestone Manor for interfering with the duties of a police officer. When police arrived to arrest her husband on a morals charge for “carnal knowledge with a juvenile girl who resided in the development,” he jumped from the second floor balcony and ran up the creek next to the railroad tracks. To give her husband time to escape, the wife started fighting with police at the front door while he escaped from the balcony. Laurel Police “then took his wife, who they said was biting, screaming, and scratching, into custody.”
In February, Laurel native and Marine Sgt. Karl Taylor was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon. In Vietnam, Taylor charged an enemy machine gun bunker with a grenade launcher to allow his rifle company to rescue wounded Marines. He took out the machine gun before being killed by enemy fire. He was the second Laurel resident to win the Medal of Honor, after Capt. George Albee in 1894.
A proposal to construct a sports complex to house both the Baltimore Orioles and Colts, in Howard County north of Laurel, was unveiled in 1979. Megaplex, the development company, claimed to have a contract on 500 acres between Route 1 and I-95, and Route 175 and Meadowridge Road. Jumping into the fray, Prince Georges County Executive Larry Hogan, in a letter to Edward Bennett Williams, the new owner of the Orioles, then suggested building a “superdome” in the Laurel area, just off I-95, for the Orioles. Neither idea ever panned out.
In August, pilot Gary Hankins crashed his home-built experimental ultralight plane into the roof of a house off Brock Bridge Road in Maryland City. Hankins had just taken off from Suburban Airport and was heading north when residents of the Parkway Mobile Home Park told the News Leader they “heard it sputtering” just before the crash. After firefighters secured the plane and the roof, they rescued the semi-conscious pilot from the wreckage.
In June, professional soccer player Mia Hamm made an appearance at the Supplee Lane soccer fields at a camp sponsored by her Washington Freedom team.
Sgt. Karl Taylor