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✳ JUNE 14 - 20, 2007

July 4th fireworks promises to be a great show I talked with John "Firecracker" Theofiles the other day and he is AT URPHY promising viewers in Laurel another great fireworks show in 2007. Everyone knows that "We are going to have a nice fireworks display," said John. there are cars parked all "They will be set off electronically rather than manually and they will over the Laurel area wherbe choreographed." ever there is a good vanJohn did say that organizers of Laurel’s July 4th celebration sure tage point to watch them. would appreciate a few more donations, as they are off slightly this I get permission from those involved. year. I doubt that anyone can accurately tell us how many people come to Laurel for We are coming up on 11 years of the the annual fireworks, but everyone knows that there are cars parked all over the Lau- Laurel Star. Aug. 1, 1996, was the first issue and on July 22 I will be celebratrel area wherever there is a good vantage ing, I hope, my eleventh year with the point to watch them. newspaper. Alan Cole is John's right hand man and Many of my early columns were spent I can assure you they put in a full day’s looking back over the good ol’ days and I work on July 4th. thought I might pull out two or three of Donations can be sent to Laurel Firemy favorites and rerun them in celebration works, P.O. Box 934, Laurel, DE 19956 of my efforts, a sort of “looking back at looking back.” Much has changed in the last years and Laurel's Scott Sheridan, Philadelphia some old friends have gone, but life will Phillies trainer, got a long television spot always give us our memories if we treasduring Sunday's game with Kansas City. ure them. He was shown in the dugout talking to, or Here goes: explaining something to, injured pitcher Freddie Garcia in the dugout. "That's my boy,” I said to no one in the Many of the former employees of the room rather excitedly. former Blue Ridge Manufacturing CompaWell, Paul and Judy Sheridan are his ny and Laurel Manufacturing Company parents, but I'm still very proud of him. have started their spring and summer luncheons again this year. They get together to share memories and just to share Coming home from Frederica the other each other’s company, something Laurel is evening, I got to thinking. Yeah, I hear famous for. laughter in the background, especially Among those who attended this year’s from Gene Wright, but I'm sure of my reunion were Emma Wootten, Hilda Pusey, thoughts. Annabelle Wilson, Florence Hughes, CarYou know, from Laurel to where you rie Taylor, Judy Carmean, Barbara Parker, pick up Rt. 1 north in Dover, there are 25 Evelyn Collins, Kathryn Ward, Mary Ann traffic lights, if I have counted correctly, and nine if you go to Georgetown and take Littleton, Liz Parker, Betty Scarborough, Rt. 113 to Rt. 1. A lot of the excursion bus Edna Adams, Etta Morris and Josephine Dykes. drivers are doing this for a reason and I In addition to these women, some of think it's because it's quicker and much the men who made up the 85 employees easier. With all the construction on Rt. 13, on the payroll were Floyd Lamden, Donit can only get worse. ald Hickman, Perry Jefferson, Frank BaiThat's my tip of the week, no charge as ley, James Hearn, Cliff Cugler, Herman usual. Dulis and Warren Bailey. The company started out as Blue Ridge We are fast approaching the retirement around 1939 (?) over the old Arcade Dry of the state elections commissioner Frank Cleaners building opposite the library and Calio of Laurel. July 1, is the date I think. at the start it made Army clothes. It moved It would be nice if as many of us as over to the Market Street site around 1942 possible give Frank a picture of President and Carroll Rosenbloom of Baltimore George Bush. That should get his retireColts fame became part owner of the busiment off to a roaring start. ness. In 1965 it became Laurel ManufacturThere are a number of area business changes that are forthcoming but are not to ing Company. During its time in Laurel, the company also made blue jeans, Navy be announced yet. But in the very near future I will share them with you, as soon as jackets, jackets for J.C. Penney and other companies.



Pay day was usually on Friday and the pay was cash in an envelope; checks came along much later. One half-hour for lunch, 10-minute breaks; yes, 10 minutes! You were paid by the hour but piece work was how you made your money. Etta Morris was there for 35 years and Evelyn Collins was there for 46 years. And there were many of the other long-time employees. Evelyn and Katherine were the floor ladies and for the most part everyone got along together very well and each remembers her job like it was yesterday. Emma Wootten was a “utility operator” and Etta Morris worked on zippers and cuffs. Hilda Pusey particularly remembers the Christmas dinners. “They were a good company,” she said, and that was the overall sentiment of all the group. Pusey also recalls the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Her boss, Mr. David, told her not to tell the rest of the employees until the end of the day because they would not be able to work. Emma Wootten is always good for at least one funny story and she didn’t let me down. “The union was nothing,” said Emma. “Once we all decided to have a work stoppage. Everyone cut their machines off at the same time and everyone was to go to Mr. Cohen’s office. When I got there I was the only one on strike.” Mr. Cohen also said they couldn’t put air conditioning in the office because all the women would be staying there.

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Legion awards three scholarships Every year, the American Legion Post 19 in Laurel awards scholarships to graduating high school seniors. This year’s scholarship winners are: • Kristen Bradford, who attended Snow Hill High School in Snow Hill, Md. She was eligible to apply for the scholarship through her grandfather, Jim Cecil, and her grandmother, Janice Cecil.

• Glen Russell Jones, who attended The Salisbury School in Salisbury, Md. He was eligible for the scholarship through his stepmother, Laurie Jones. • Jessica Jones, who also attended The Salisbury School. She was eligible for the scholarship through her grandfather, Howard Mills.


204 Laureltowne Laurel, DE 19956 (302)

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Another great part of this story was the fact that many of the “girls” put notes in the military apparel during the war and corresponded with the soldiers, helping to keep up spirits. Sadly, in the 1970s and early 1980s, rumors started that work was going overseas and finally it did with little real warning, except the fact that apparel was brought to the factory from overseas and a U.S. label put on them. Says Annabelle Wilson, “The government sold out the whole garment industry. The union did not tell. It was a sad time.” Yes, since around 1985 the sewing factory has been gone. The walks through Laurel during their half-hour lunch breaks; cars lined up and down 4th and Market streets; factory employees rallying around local causes with donations; working in the summer heat and with gloves on at their sewing machines during the winter; working a little faster and putting in overtime at night to get orders out, and to help the war cause. Employees there contributed greatly to Laurel. And to America. My mother-in-law, Helen Lowe, who passed away in 1964 at age 50, was one of those employees. I know she was a hard worker, and one hour with these ladies made me appreciate her even more. Thanks to the ladies of Laurel Manufacturing Company for sharing another great part of Laurel’s history. Believe me, they are a big part of it. As Barbara Parker says, “I wish it was still there. I enjoyed it and still have a lot of memories.”


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June 14, 2007  

ALUMNI OF ALL AGES - LHS class of 1957 celebrates 50-year reunion, page 18. And DHS holds commencement ceremony for brand new grads. Page 20...