On the day Enalee Bounds opened Ellicott's Country Store on Main Street in Ellicott City, she stood expectantly behind the wooden counter, nervously twiddling her thumbs.
The colorful penny candy was neatly arrayed, paintings and hand-dipped candles were artfully displayed and antiques precisely arranged. All that was missing that October day in 1962 were the customers.
"The town was pretty seedy then, and when no one came in the store for a while that day I began thinking, `Oh, what have I done?'" she recalled. "But I knew in my heart that things were going to turn out all right. You had to have a little vision then. You had to know what the town could be."
Enalee Bounds and her husband, Roland, an attorney, have dedicated countless hours over the past 45 years to turning that vision of the old mill town's potential into reality.
From the early days when neighboring businessmen were betting against a woman entrepreneur's staying power to present times when the bustling enclave of thriving shops is a tourist magnet, the Boundses have been on Main Street to see it all.
Known for being an ordinary couple who have made extraordinary contributions to the preservation and restoration of Ellicott City's historic district, they are scheduled to receive the Sen. James Clark Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award from Preservation Howard County on Sunday. The event will be held at the Historic Waverly Mansion in Marriottsville.
"They have made very important contributions, and there is an influx of people who haven't been here very long who are benefiting from their efforts," said Fred Dorsey, second vice president of the presenting organization, which will hand out four other awards.
"Roland and Enalee are the salt of the earth, and they always are willing to pitch in and do whatever they can to help," said Ed Lilley, president of Ellicott City Restoration Foundation and member of the Howard County Tourism Council. "I believe they have had a hand in just about everything that's been done around here."
Pointing to his wife of 57 years, Roland Bounds said: "I just got involved because of her. It was Enalee's passion for local history and the country stores of New England that got this whole ball rolling. The deal was once I got my law practice off and running, she could open a store and that's what we did."
The Boundses leased the first floor of the duplex at 8180 Main St. for a couple of years and then purchased the four-story stone structure.
In 1972, Tropical Storm Agnes flooded the low-lying areas of Main Street. The storm's timing couldn't have been worse, as Main Street merchants were preparing for the bicentennial celebration of Ellicott City's founding in 1772.
"That flood was a wake-up call," said Lilley. "It was then that everyone [on Main Street] realized what they stood to lose without an organized effort and combined vigilance."
Water damage to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station, the oldest railway station in the country, ushered in a new era of thinking.
"We knew then that we needed a way to protect what was here," said Roland, who spearheaded the effort leading to the county's designation of the area as a historic district, a label not everyone appreciated at the time because of the regulations attached to it.
"It seemed like almost no one in county government understood just what they had here" on Main Street, said Enalee. It took near-disaster and some bending of then-County Executive Omar J. Jones' ear during the 200th anniversary parade to get that message across, she said.
"The '70s was when a lot of things got started," said Janet Kusterer, executive director of Historic Ellicott City Inc., which was formed in 1974.
The same year, Enalee began a monthly newsletter called Heritage to extend that organization's outreach. It was published for 15 years.
"Whether they admit it or not, the Boundses have been a driving force in turning historic Ellicott City into what it is today," added Kusterer, who was one of a few people who nominated them separately.
Roland and Enalee have served as president of Historic Ellicott City Inc., and he is a past president of the Ellicott City Restoration Foundation. They have served on many other committees at one time or another.
"Doesn't that tell you something when more than one person thinks they deserve recognition?" said Kusterer.
Enalee did acknowledge that it was her idea to begin the county's annual Decorator Showhouse in 1983 as a way to raise funds for Historic Ellicott City Inc., while preserving a historic home at the same time.
"We have definitely been successful with this event," said Kusterer, "although our income has varied wildly - from $100,000 one year to $4,000 another when we had to supply a shuttle to the home from [off-site] parking. These funds have kept us going."
And going is what Ellicott City residents Roland and Enalee Bounds plan to keep doing.