Souped-up cars make fresh-baked deliveries

Tradition: Each year, Thanksgiving brings a caravan of hot rods to southern Anne Arundel County on a quest for pies.

November 23, 2001|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Some towns have a Thanksgiving Day parade. Galesville, population 700, has a Pie Run.

Yesterday morning, the waterfront village in southern Anne Arundel County was overrun with vintage cars and freshly baked pies as a caravan of nearly 100 hot-rod enthusiasts rolled down Main Street to pick up Thanksgiving desserts at West River Market, a country store and deli.

In its seventh year, this male-bonding ritual is a blend of beautiful cars, homemade pies and a picturesque town on the West River.

The Pie Run began in 1995 when Will Rattigan and three friends from the Bay Area Hot Rods club took a Thanksgiving morning drive from Millersville to Galesville for an egg sandwich at West River Market. Next year, they said, we'll order pies, too.

"It's a time when guys are sitting around, and if you're not into cooking with the wife, there's really nothing going on," said Rattigan, 53, a damage control inspector for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. "We just figured we'll get out of their hair, buy some pies and be back in a couple hours."

Over the years, the event mushroomed, as word spread in hot-rod circles.

Yesterday, close to 100 hot-rodders took to the roads in about 60 vintage automobiles with souped-up engines for the 35-mile trip to Galesville to collect their pre-ordered pies.

Galesville was selected because the town was part of Rattigan's BGE territory and he used to eat lunch at the deli.

When Susan Ulrich bought the market in September 1998, Rattigan had one question.

"I called and said, `Are you still doing pies?'" he said.

The answer was yes. West River Market is at a community crossroads in the quiet town, where an antiques store, an art gallery, a small grocery and the post office round out Main Street. Boating season provides more activity when out-of-towners show up.

"I'm kind of the hub of the town," said Ulrich, a former corporate sales director for Diners Club who traded in her power suits for jeans and an apron.

"When people come in and say, `What else is there?' I'll tell them in Galesville, the attraction is what's not here," said Ulrich, a former resident of Springfield, Va. "What's not here is all the suburban congestion and neon lights."

Two months after Ulrich took over the market, members of Rattigan's group were calling with pie orders.

"I felt like I just kind of got slammed," she said, recalling her first pie run. "All the cars come at the same time, and I was frantically trying to serve people breakfast. I didn't even get to see the cars because I was too busy cooking."

Baking began Tuesday

In the past three years, Ulrich has fine-tuned her operation. She began baking Tuesday and with her staff of four and 10 volunteering family members and friends - including her 26-year-old son from New York - worked nearly around the clock to fill 270 pie orders. About half were from the Pie Run group.

At Rattigan's Millersville home yesterday, the festivities started early as drivers gathered for pre-run doughnuts. The car talk and coffee flowed as the guys checked out each other's cars.

The front yard was covered with gleaming coupes, sedans and roadsters - most from the 1930s and 1940s - that created an automotive rainbow.

"It's something different. You get to be with the guys and the cars," said Jerry Jennings, 53, of Glen Burnie, who drives a cherry-red 1955 Chevrolet panel truck and ordered an apple pie.

"When you get home, all you've got to do is park your car and go in and eat," said 51-year-old Pasadena resident Mike Szuba, who showed up with his dark blue 1947 Ford convertible and with son Chris, 8.

Szuba also ordered an apple pie, explaining that he had made his pumpkin pies.

Door prizes first

Before hitting the road, the group assembled in Rattigan's garage for the door-prize giveaways. Then he led the way in his 1932 black Ford coupe with bright orange flames painted on the side and a license plate reading "Hot Lick." His granddaughter Lily, 4, was along for the ride.

In an orderly line, the cavalcade of cars traveled from the cul de sacs of suburbia to Interstate 97, to the rural winding roads of Anne Arundel's horse country, to Route 255, the road that leads to Galesville.

As amused residents watched, the drivers parked and headed for West River Market and Deli, where Ulrich not only had pies waiting, but breakfast, too.

The small store filled quickly as members of the Pie Run contingent filed in to pick up pies and order eggs.

Orderly operation

"If you need pies, talk to the pie runners," Ulrich commanded, referring to two teen-age girls who fetched the pies from shelves in the back of the store. The pies were labeled with the buyers' names and arranged by type - blueberry, cherry, apple, pumpkin, pecan and mincemeat.

The women in the kitchen took breakfast orders as Ulrich manned one of two cash registers.""How was your ride down everybody?" she asked, as the men lined up to pay, their arms filled with pies.

Outside, on the store porch, the Pie Run guys dug into their scrambled eggs, sausage, home fries and biscuits. Some strolled to the marina and looked out over the sun-drenched water.

"Them pies are unbelievably good," said Ron Boswell, 57, of Columbia, who made the trip in his 1937 purple Willys sedan. "They're well worth the drive."

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