Montpelier/South Laurel: Dinosaurs invade historic Montpelier Mansion

The staff of Montpelier Mansion is experiencing an invasion of dinosaurs. Now through April 29, visitors can view the remains of dinosaurs, plants and early mammals found in Laurel's Dinosaur Park, and there is a hands-on exhibit for children in the Carriage House. Exhibit hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and $1 for children ages 6 through 18.

At the adjacent Montpelier Spring Jazz Series at the Montpelier Arts Center, you have your pick of two upcoming concerts. On Friday, March 30 at 8 p.m., saxophonist Ron Kearns, guitarist Paul Wingo and their quartet bring their swinging rhythms to the arts center. Then on Friday, April 13, also at 8 p.m., jazz pianist Gerald Clayton will entertain. Individual concert tickets are $20. For reservations, call 301-377-7800.

The final offering in this season's dinner and a movie series at Montpelier Arts Center featured "Breaking Through the Clouds: the First Women's National Air Derby." The film includes actual footage of the race, held in 1929, as well as interviews with members of the pilots' families and with one of the actual participants. Those of us in the audience were first treated to a tasty meal based on the fare served to the pilots at a banquet prior to the start of the race. While watching the documentary, we got to know the pilots, and to hear quotes from their letters and journals as they recorded fatigue, engine malfunctions, sabotage of their planes and the political pressures that influenced which cities they stopped in on their journey from California to Ohio. After the show, Heather Taylor, a local resident who wrote, directed and produced the film, which has won many awards, discussed the eight-year effort that went into researching and completing this project. She shared additional details of some of the pilots' lives, including the fact that in the years following the race one of the pilots died when the plane she was piloting crashed, and that another pilot went on to fly planes during World War II as part of the Women Air Force Service Pilots, or WASPS. Information regarding the race and the film is available at

South Laurel resident Cal Kirby has just published his second e-book. "Our Fathers" is now available on Amazon Kindle and will soon be on other e-book sites. Cal's first book, "The Yard Sale (but it ain't no bargain)" is also available now. In fact, Cal suggests that you read that one first and then proceed to "Our Fathers."

Cal was born in California, but is a longtime Montpelier/South Laurel resident. He attended University of Maryland University College and spent 35 years with the federal government before retiring in 1994. Cal has been a professional actor since 1972 and has appeared on stage, TV and in at least 30 theatrical roles (mostly as an extra). Cal's friends and family were big inspirations for characters in both of his books. In fact, he uses the names of his actual friends in "Our Fathers," which is a fundraiser for Oaklands Presbyterian Church, where he is an active member. Ten percent of all royalties from the book will be donated to Oaklands.

Best wishes to our neighbor for continued success in his latest creative writing endeavors.

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