Profits from the sale of this 24″ x 36″ art poster befits the Literacy council of Lancaster-Lebanon. This would look great in any room and would help remind someone of the goodness that is Lancaster county. Richard To order just click on Literacy council of Lancaster-Lebanon.
Signs of Lancaster County
By Tana Reiff
You know you’re in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, when one minute you’re in a bustling little city and the next you’re in the heart of Amish country. I live just outside Lancaster city, with Amish farms a stone’s throw away. The clatter of horse hooves leading buggies coming by our house mixes with the sound of lawn mowers and cars. I buy my eggs and vegetables on the nearby farms, and chat with my Old Order friends about the weather, the wrens, and so many other topics we have in common.
I’m not a native of Lancaster County, but have lived here nearly 40 years. Long ago, I began noticing that almost every Amish and Mennonite farm has a product or service to sell. You can tell by the signs posted by the road, inviting customers to buy everything from tomatoes to brown eggs to quilts to birdhouses. Need your shoes repaired? Knives sharpened? Does your wringer washer need some work? You’ll find what you need along the back roads and main pikes. Just follow the signs. Drive back the farm lane, where someone will welcome you, or park out front, help yourself to the fresh produce, and leave your money in the jar. Sometimes it’s hard to believe you’re in the twenty-first century.
About six years ago, I started really observing the signs and taking pictures of them. There are the crafted signs in front of a coach or blacksmith shop, the historical markers and street signs in English and German, and the hand-lettered signs for everything else. I found them enchanting, amusing, and graphically appealing. I also found the tranquility of driving around the countryside a real stress-reliever.
The more I roamed, the more wonderful signs I discovered. My collection of photos was growing. I compiled some of the most engaging ones into a 24” x 36” poster collage, called, appropriately enough, Signs of Lancaster County. It is currently on sale as a fundraiser for the Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon, at $22.95 (plus PA sales tax and shipping, if requested). I’ll refer you to a page on their website - www.getliterate.org/signs-of-lancaster-county - for purchase information. I also have notecards at www.zazzle.com/tanager
To be sure, I do not take pictures of Amish people. This is a respectful rule that is the first lesson for tourists. At one farm, I was crouched down taking pictures of a sign for whoopie pies when two little Amish children came running out to take care of a potential customer (me). As soon as they spotted the camera, they walked backwards in unison. I could tell they had been trained how to react to cameras. “Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m not taking your picture. Is it all right if I take a picture of your sign?” They nodded. That day I came home with not only a whoopie pie, but also a broom (which is on the poster) and a big bag of onions.
One of my favorite pictures is “Maytag Wringer Washer Sales & Service and Parts.” It was out along Hensel Road, near Kinzers, which is near Paradise. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an Amish girl riding by on a scooter. Only when I looked at the picture on my computer screen did I notice that she is in the shot. She’s barely visible, and not recognizable, so I don’t think I violated the Biblical rule about graven images.
I hope you enjoy the Signs of Lancaster County poster. There is a lot to look at and you’ll quickly see that these are “signs” in more ways than one. Tana Reiff