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HISTORY CONTRIBUTORS

Roy + Maria Newcomb

Can You Help Identify These Laurel WWII Soldiers?

Nathalie Talmadge Smallwood Newcomb, whose nickname was “Tillie,” was born in 1924 and raised in Laurel. She lived with her mother, Thelma Willie Ammann, and stepfather, jockey Albert Ammann, at 114 Second Street, also known as Route 1 northbound. Her house, which was demolished when the site of the former Laurel Building Supply was leveled for a parking lot for the MARC train station, was directly across the street from the Tastee Diner. Thelma Ammann was an original member of the Laurel Volunteer Rescue Squad when it was formed in 1952.

During World War II, the Army shipped Bentley Newcomb, from Chase City, VA, to the South Pacific, where he was wounded in action. He was transferred stateside to recover and wound up at Fort Meade.

In the 1940s, Tillie was a regular at the USO dances held in the current American Legion building at the end of Main St. It was at one of those dances that she met her future husband, Bentley Newcomb. Tillie and Bentley were married at St. Philips Church on Main Street on Feb. 16, 1945.

They had three children, Tom, Judith Ann, and Roy. Roy Newcomb’s business, R.E. Newcomb Electric, Inc., has provided electrical contracting in Laurel since 1985.

When Tillie passed away in 2006, Roy and his wife, Maria, found a photo album among her belongings that they had never seen. Some of the pictures they were able to identify as family or friends. But there was a series of photos (some with Tillie) that seemed to be taken at a gathering with soldier friends. The pages with these photos had “1943” written on them. Were they off to war? Had they just returned? The photos are not marked. Were the soldiers from Laurel? We assume so but it’s just a guess.

 

Some of the photos were taken in the side yard of a house across the street from Thelma’s house on Route 1, 113 Second Street. That house, which is next to the Tastee Diner’s parking lot and currently houses a pet grooming business, is still there. The side yard has stayed remarkably the same.

We have included any information with the photos below, either provided by Roy and Maria or from notes on the back. But if you have any idea who the unidentified people or places are, please contact us and let us know.

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This aerial photo shows the houses along Second Street directly across from the Laurel (now Tastee) Diner. The photo is undated, but it has to be between 1951 and 1972. The Route 1 bypass (Second Street/Route 1 North) was built in 1951. The photo also shows Race Track Bridge by the American Legion, which was washed away in 1972 during Hurricane Agnes. The view is basically directly above Main Street near the Post Office, looking east toward the American Legion. You’ll see the brick building that’s still there today beside the commuter parking lot, and there appears to be a duplex directly beside it, plus another two houses between it and Shaffer Lumber/Laurel Building Supply.