Flanking Leon's Triple L Restaurant, the Arbutus landmark known as a place to find generous bowls of crab soup and political wisdom, is a bargain market and antiques emporium where a visitor can pick up a pair of used camouflage pants or a nice reflecting lawn ball.
On the other side sits the Vet Dry Cleaners that the three Matheson brothers opened when they returned home from World War II.
With one foot in the past and the other very much in the present, Arbutus finds itself in the glare of the national spotlight -- native son Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is Maryland's new governor-elect.
Tucked away in a corner of southwestern Baltimore County, the blue-collar community was always known as a place of friendly, unpretentious people. Today, nothing seems to have changed.
In the village named after a rare native flower, people were still pinching themselves yesterday. But one thing's for sure, everybody knows the new governor-elect.
"We need good folk like Bob in that office," said Dee DiDario, a bartender at Leon's. "What you see is what you get in Arbutus and that's our boy."
Back in the kitchen, Carolyn Robinson was forming the dough that has made her rolls for 15 years at Leon's.
"They are a fine family, nice and friendly," Robinson said. "They take time to talk with you, and they are just the same now as before their son was elected governor. That's the kind of place this is."
Arbutus was born in the 1870s when the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad opened a line between Baltimore and Washington and included the town as a stop.
Now a thriving community of 21,000 residents, Arbutus still hears the wails of trains as they pass.
Perhaps no one knows Arbutus more than Leon Lineburg, 71, owner for 43 years of the restaurant that bears his name. And like a lot of people in town, he counts the Ehrlich family as his friends.
While attending Catonsville High School, Lineburg got to know Nancy Bottorf. She worked as a soda jerk at Mendelshon's Pharmacy, downstairs from where he lived with his family.
"It's hard to believe that Arbutus produced a governor, but when you realize that the Nancy I knew then is the governor's mother, it makes perfect sense," Lineburg said.
The governor-elect's parents, Nancy and Robert Sr., usually eat at Leon's twice a week. "We have lots of people who come in for our hotcakes or stuffed shrimp -- it's where people in Arbutus gather to eat, drink and talk politics and sports," Lineburg said.
With his strong working-class roots, Governor-elect Ehrlich is expected by people in Arbutus to quickly balance the state's budget. And, many say, he will be adept at creating more teamwork -- a quality he displayed as a baseball and football player.
A few blocks from Arbutus' commercial hub, Ehrlich's 72-year-old father sat in a wicker chair in the brick rowhouse that he bought for $11,000 in 1959. After the strain of the election, the telephone calls, the interviews, he was exhausted.
A retired car salesman, Robert Ehrlich Sr. was eager for his wife to return home from her job at a Baltimore law firm. His eyes were red from lack of sleep, yet he was feeling euphoric about his son's success.
"We've been so blessed it scares me," he said. "Only in America, this kid from a place like Arbutus can climb to the top like Bobby did."
Typically, it is a point of pride for Ehrlich's father that his son did it the hard way, that his ascent to political power was marked by hard work and learning the crucial life skill of adaptation.
With autumn sun bright outside on Delores Avenue, the father talked of his only child attending the exclusive Gilman School "and washing cars in the summer for money."
At Princeton, where the son lettered in football and lacrosse, "he dug ditches in the summer in Trenton and pushed a hoagie cart. You think that was easy for him? Some of the remarks that were thrown at him. He just kept his head down and kept pushing."
As evidence of his son's indomitable spirit, the father points to a photograph on the wall showing his son leaving a college football field with heavily taped wrists. "Bobby played the whole game at linebacker with two broken wrists. ... He does not like to give up. He learned that from John Unitas," he said.
In the waning days of the hectic gubernatorial campaign when political tension was high, the Ehrlichs heard their son come through the front door, late. The son yelled his usual greeting to his parents upstairs in their bedroom and within minutes the house fell silent.
"Nancy went downstairs," Robert Ehrlich Sr. said. "Bobby had just made it through the door and laid down on the living room carpet and fell asleep. The kid was exhausted. Nancy got a blanket and covered him up.
"Bobby was fine," he said. "We both knew he'd be up and at 'em in the morning. He's a tough kid from Arbutus."