Last week I had the opportunity to interview a long time member of the Laurel Community. Born in Laurel in 1906, Miss Katie Hopkins has seen Laurel go through many changes.
As we prepare for our next exhibit comparing Laurel in 1910 to Laurel in 2010, we are busy interviewing people in the community who can help us tell the story of Laurel today. Sandy Johnson, the historian of St. Mark's Church delightfully informed me that there is someone whom she knows who can speak about Laurel in 1910! So, with the help of Sandy and Jackie from St. Mark's church, it was arranged for me to meet with Miss Katie to discuss life in 1910 in preparation for our upcoming exhibit. (In reality, I was so excited to meet her that I would have been willing to talk about anything.)
I met with Miss Katie at the Laurel Rehabilitation Center and she told me some wonderful stories. She told me about her childhood spent jumping rope with friends, taking sleigh rides and traveling to Washington on the trolley for her music lessons. She painted an image of a small town where everyone knew everyone and Teaser's Ice Cream Parlor, where her father worked, had "real" ice cream. She talked about people coming from far away to celebrate Emancipation Day with St. Mark's Church. She spoke of how church members opened their homes to these visitors and of a town filled with hospitality.
I wasn't surprised at all to hear such a depiction of life in Laurel. These stories seem to come through whether you talk to people about Laurel in the 1950s or Laurel in the early 1900s.
Instead of surprising me, what the stories do is make me wonder what we'll find in our upcoming exhibit.
Will we find stories of Laurel in 2010 where the hospitality is just as great as in 1910?
Will members of our Exhibit Advisory Committee tell of us a community bound to itself, where people take care of one another?
I'm not sure what they will tell us. I don't want to push community members to tell us any story, but I know what I think. Laurel is a community that cares.