UPDATE: July 2010 – sad to say we drove past Jacob Zook’s this weekend and the place was closed. Sigh.
I admit it, I’m a collector of souvenirs, tchotchkes, dust catchers. They remind me of all of the neat places I’ve gone, and thinking of those adventures makes me happy. One of my favorite places to pick up trinkets is at Jacob Zook’s Family Crafts on Route 30 / The Lincoln Highway in Paradise PA.
(this is a snapshot from when Mr. Toast stayed with us for a weekend!
In business since 1942, it is now owned by Jacob Zook’s granddaughter Cindy. The building itself is worth a photo, because it’s a cute little 1973 A-frame nestled into the rural landscape.
That big colorful sign out front is a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign, a historic motif here in Lancaster County. The bird on this hex sign is a “distlelfink” ( I love that word!) It means goldfinch in German and to the Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch) it means good luck & happiness.
Originally painted onto barns as decorations, some say the hex signs were to ward off evil spirits and bring prosperity. Others say they were just for decoration. Each hex design and colors has a special meaning, according to the Zook’s Family Crafts website:
Some of the more popular symbols included: sun wheel for warmth and fertility, hearts for love, birds (called distelfinks) for good luck and happiness, tulips for faith and star for luck. The specific colors used also had meaning: red for your emotions, yellow for love of man and the sun, green for growing things, blue for protection, white for purity, and brown for Mother Earth.
While these hex designs began as hand painted folk art Jacob Zook is famous for their original and hand silk screened signs. We have a “daddy hex” sign in the nook of the Hacienda, as a souvenir from a fun drive to Amish country.
Along with their famous hex signs you can get all sorts of Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish themed memorabilia- playing cards, cast iron plain folk, charm bracelets, hand made brooms and more.
I love Jacob Zook’s because they have so many of the kitschy old souvenirs that might have been picked up by someone’s grandmother on a weekend drive. Makes me think of the retro roadtrippers from back in the day, and I feel like one of them when I pick up a tacky trivet or Pennsylvania Dutch sayings coasters.Sometimes it’s the little things like a drive in the country on a warm day that can make a day memorable, and it’s nice to have something to remind me of good times.
A word to visitors- Cindy would like to sell the A Frame (horrors) and move the business back to where it began next door. I LOVE the A-frame!! It is definitely part of the charm of the place. If you go there please let them know you dig the A-Frame too!
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