Traveling U.S. 1 can be unusual trip, no matter what the destination


August 09, 1999|By Sally Voris | Sally Voris,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SEEMS LIKE every week there's a parade of some sort on U.S. 1, says Sam Coates, manager of Hub Cab City in Elkridge. Two weeks ago it was an in-line skater raising money for muscular dystrophy; last week, a memorial stone.

Volunteers walked down U.S. 1, pulling a wagon with the 2,000-pound stone -- bound for Arlington National Cemetery, although the trek ended a few days later a little short of the goal.

The stone, brought from Sherborn, Mass., is intended to honor all civilians killed in war. The walkers pulled it down U.S. 1 at 2 mph -- their knees like the legs of an uncoordinated centipede amid the steady flow of trucks and cars.

Along a two-block stretch of the four-lane highway, the group passed the local trash "recyclery," historic Trinity Episcopal Church, the U.S. 1 shopping center, Flea Market World, and the largest field of soybeans in the area -- and Coates, sitting in front of the hubcap store, the shop a standout painted school-bus yellow and Barney purple.

Ah, U.S. 1 -- industrial artery, hodgepodge heaven and road to our collective memory!

An 18-wheeler pulled in front of them into the recycling complex. A block later, two compact cars had a minor rear-end collision next to them.

They kept on walking.

Coates and Dan Selke watched the scene. Selke has owned Hub Cap City for 18 years and Coates has worked there for 12. Coates' grandfather, Muirel Stivers, sold tires in nearby Guilford. The wagon carrying the stone had a seat for a driver on the front and held a United Nations flag and an American flag upright. The stone, inscribed with the words, "Unknown Civilians Killed in War," lay flat on the wagon bed. A state trooper followed the group, lights flashing.

The stone walkers and their wagon crested the hill at Scooters Restaurant and moved into the left lane. They crossed U.S. 1 and stopped under a mature elm tree at the Waterloo Barracks of the State Police. A sign there commemorates Spurrier's Tavern, where George Washington is said to have stopped at least 25 times between 1789 and 1798.

The road that became U.S. 1 connected towns built as ports along the fall line of the rivers. The fall line is where the rolling hills of the Piedmont meet the coastal plain.

Elk Ridge Landing was such a deep-water port before Baltimore and Washington existed.

By the time they got to the Waterloo Barracks, the group with its memorial stone had traveled almost five miles in Howard County along the storied thoroughfare.

They had begun the trek through our community 2 1/2 hours earlier beneath a canopy of trees close to the Patapsco River. From there, they headed up Buttermilk Hill.

The hill is one of the toughest along U.S. 1, three-tenths of a mile long and stretching from the coastal plain to the top of the ridge for which Elkridge was named.

The walkers passed Daniel's Restaurant & Bar. Three generations of Daniels -- Emily, Don and David -- waved and smiled at the group. Country music could be heard through the tavern doorway.

Don and his friend of 25 years, Ron Huff, were preparing to go fishing on the bay. They had heard about the group and its walk on television.

A half-hour later, the group reached the top of the hill, stopping close to the Buttermilk Hill Tavern. Bartender Kelli Johnson and owner Linda Pace brought out plastic beer pitchers filled with ice water for them.

A customer had mentioned that something was happening on the road, Pace said, and a photographer covering the walk had come in to ask for ice water.

Johnson donated some money and helped push the wagon, in her sandals, from the restaurant to Montgomery Road -- another two-tenths of a mile on the journey to Arlington.

Pace stood outside the tavern and watched until they were out of sight.

From where she stood, she could see the flagpoles that her husband, Wayne Pace, was installing when he died in a ladder accident a year ago. The restaurant had been his dream, and Linda Pace has continued to run the business.

Wayne Pace grew up in Highlandtown and always wanted to own and run a neighborhood tavern. After the kids were grown and out of college, Linda says, she agreed to help him start the establishment -- which they decided should cater to off-duty firefighters and policemen.

The day after Wayne died, members of the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department brought the hook and ladder truck to the tavern and finished installing the flagpoles.

The restaurant offers karaoke Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday nights, and on Thursdays there's a discount for off-duty fire and police personnel.

As for the stone, the marchers reached only the middle of Memorial Bridge, which leads to the national cemetery entrance. Lacking permission for its entry, the marchers allowed District of Columbia police to impound the stone on Friday until Congress adopts a resolution allowing it into the cemetery.

A sad goodbye

At the bottom of Buttermilk Hill, on the other side of U.S. 1, J. H. Toomey's closed its doors July 31.

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