National Geographic : 2002 Feb
ELKTON, MARYLAND daughter, April, are accompanied by a three-year-old ring bearer named Emma, who tires during the ceremony and goes to sleep at the couple's feet. At the appropriate time Emma surrenders the rings, fastened to a collar around her neck. Emma rears enthusiastically and places her fore legs around the bride's neck and licks her face. Emma is a Great Dane. At the courthouse across the street Janice Potts, deputy clerk, has married 15 couples before lunch. Then Leonard Irving, a waiter, arrives with Imelda Ornelas, a housekeeper originally from Veracruz, Mexico. Jose Gallinat, a friend who escaped from Cuba in 1960, translates Potts's words into Spanish for Imelda. The scene touches everyone. Besides making marriages, Elkton manufactured 40-millimeter shells during World War II in buildings now occupied by Thiokol Propulsion, who won't tell you about the classified stuff they're making, just that it relates to Space. At the nearby Gore-Tex factory I ask why my expensive fishing jacket, made with the waterproof fabric, gets wet in the rain. "Didn't wash it, didn't dry it, did you?" asks Cynthia Amon, Gore-Tex associate. Washing and drying, I learn, regenerates the material. I am escorted upstairs to view dozens of washers sloshing swatches of newly made Gore-Tex for as long as 250 hours. I am told that if the fabric leaks water after being dried, the batch will be discarded. I am impressed. On a cool afternoon Mike Dixon, who has documented that George Washington passed through Cecil County at least 46 times, takes me to Elk Landing south of town. Here oak and beech trees branch near Little Elk Creek as it eases toward the Chesapeake. "In the War of 1812, 200 British Royal Marines rowed up this river and fired on our local militia right there," he says, pointing to a knoll. Noting the legendary toughness of His Majesty's marines, Dixon exults, "That day we whipped the British!" Britannia has taken its revenge. No member of the royal family has ever been married in Elkton. O ON OUR WEBSITE There's more on 21921 at national geographic.com/ngm/0202. Tell us why we should cover YOUR FAVORITE ZIP CODE at nationalgeographic.com/ngm /zipcode/0202 or mail your suggestion to PO Box 96095, Washington, DC 20090 6095. E-mail: zip@national geographic.com Emma, a Great Dane, bore wedding rings on her col lar and smooches the bride to the amusement of her daughter,April, and husband, Shep.