The Gift Haus, the large Amish couple and the Miniature Village are remnants of road culture when the only road from Allentown to Harrisburg was Route 22, a two lane highway with a max speed of probably about 45 miles per hour.
The endless expanse of the interstate can take those engines and wheels fueled by fossil fuel that same distance in about 2 hours and such places are blips on drivers’ windshields. They beckon now out of curiosity, not necessity. Because they have always intrigued me, always baffled me, I decided to do some exploring. Vacation gives my curiosity about the world time and energy to stop and look around for awhile.
I didn’t have the time nor the energy to wander into the Miniature Village but stepping into the Gift Haus was stepping back in time. While I have been a casual collector of such kitsch, I realized that there is a small but profitable cottage industry based around the aesthetics, design and stereotypes of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Offered up for my consumption was shoofly pie, hex signs, cast iron trinkets and tea towels. I decided to bring my hosts some shoofly pie and a hex sign, as I couldn’t really think of anything else that would be considered more Pennsylvania than that.
The landscape around the Gift Haus is strange. There is the Riverboat Saloon with it’s spray painted sign and the store, Antique Treasures, beckoning with promises of old, beautiful things, holding an overwhelming expanse of old treasures of bizarre and obsessive proportions. As always, I found myself crouched in front of the jewelry case, intensely surveying an extensive collection of Native American beaded jewelry. I picked out a 4 strand, multicolor necklace with a lovely tassel on the end and headed on my way.
The asphalt pushed me westward, southbound. I had some place to be and that place was Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at the home of a dear and beloved friend.