Archive for September, 2009

A tip of the hat to the Recent Past Preservation Network for hipping me to this Retro Roadmap-worthy exhibit at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia –  Jacob Stelman – Architectural Photography 1936 -1970. A perfect destination  for a Philly-area Retro Roadmap get-together this Saturday October 3 at noon.


From the Athenaeum’s website- (emphasis by me!):

Based on the Athenaeum’s collection of more than 5000 images from talented and prolific Philadelphia photographer, Jacob Stelman, this exhibition features more than 100 of his best photos. While Stelman’s work included landmark structures such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Temple Beth Sholom in Elkins Park (1959), the exhibit also reveals the changing face of commercial Philadelphia at mid-century, when “downtown” was the uncontested retail capital of our region. The stores, theaters, restaurants, supermarkets and hotels depicted in the exhibit run the stylistic gamut from Art Deco to Modern to Googie to Tiki, and provide a glimpse into an era before the uniform design of corporate chains dampened the robust individuality of both commercial architecture and signage.

This exhibition was made possible in-part through the generous support of  The Ellis Coffee Company

If that isn’t up our Retro Roadmap alley, I don’t know what is!

I’ll be at the Atheneum at noontime this Saturday October 3,  to meet and greet Retro Roadmap Readers- come and check out the exhibit and say hello!  I’ll be wearing my distinctive Vintage Roadside Hacienda Motel tee shirt as a calling card, so if you get to the exhibit late and see me, please come up and introduce yourself! I’d love to meet any area readers, and be able to explore the exhibit with everyone.


The Atheneaum is conveniently located near Independence Hall and The Liberty Bell, so if you want to go way back and be really retro, you can catch up on some history while you’re in the area! Looking forward to meeting up!

Here are the important details:

Retro Roadmap Meet-up Saturday October 3 12 noon.

Exhibit runs through November 7, 2009
Free Admission

Monday-Friday, 9:00AM-5:00PM
Saturday October 3, 10:00AM-2:00PM
Saturday November 7, 10:00AM-2:00PM

Philadelphia Athenaeum
219 S 6th St
Philadelphia, PA 19106-3719
(215) 925-2688
The Athenaeum is located on the east side of Washington Square below Walnut St.

See the Philadelphia Athenaeum on the Retro Roadmap!

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On the rainy night of our 2003 stay in Bedford PA , the fabulous vintage sign of Ed’s Steak House shone like a beacon. How could we not want to eat in a place that had such a Vegas-like sign in the middle of Pennsylvania?I’m a sucker for the martini glass motif, so in we went.  We had a warm meal on a cold night, and left satisfied.


During our return trip through Bedford this summer we decided to give Ed’s another visit before hopping on the turnpike. The signage looked just as appealing during the day, and the place was bustling with activity.

Ed's Outside Sign

While waiting in the lobby I saw a photo of Ed’s from when it first opened up in 1954. Alas the restaurant has been redecorated a bit since then and doesn’t look nearly as cool as that double storied windowed gem in the faded photo. But  they do still have the lounge area, where you can relax with a martini while waiting for your dinner – we’ll sit there next time for sure!

Ed's Steak House Circa 1954

I thought Mr. Toast would like this mini loaf of bread that was served before our food!

Ed's Steak House Bread Loaf

Our meal was fine, and filling.  But, as I said to Retro Roadhusband after we ate, “the food was fine, but I really like the sign”.

Check out the other cool martini sign near Ed’s –

Though I didn’t get  a stellar picture of it, you also should check out the sign on the hotel behind Ed’s ( I didn’t catch the name of the place and not sure if it’s the Econo Lodge that Google shows, but you can’t miss it if you’re at Ed’s) The place looked a bit dubious,  but it has a great old  neon sign:

Good Food

I snapped a quick photo from the car, trying not to disturb the folks lingering outside in the sun talking on their cellphones. We noticed when we were driving away that the sign actually flashed, changing the word FOOD to GOOD. GOOD FOOD, I love it.

So if you happen to be in the Bedford area, snap a photo of these gorgeous signs-  day or night they’re a  sight!

Ed’s Steak House
4476 Business 220
Bedford, PA 15522
(814) 623-8894

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 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.

Mr Toast goes to Jacob Zooks(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.

Jacob Zook A Frame & Distlfink

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.

Jacob Zook Hex Signs

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.

Table Tallies & Snapshot Prints

Hex Sign Coasters

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.

Trivet Wisdom and PegboardA 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!

Jacob Zook’s Hex Signs (Zook’s Family Crafts)
3056 Route 30 East – note that if you Google this address the map is wrong, check the Retro Roadmap for the real location!
Paradise PA 17562
(717) 687-8329

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The DK diner in West Chester PA is open from 6am-2:30pm which is why it was always closed whenever we drove by. I don’t know why it took us so long to check it out, except maybe that I was a bit miffed that they were hiding a perfectly beautiful 1953 Mountainview diner under a wacky picket fence hat and awnings. But I decided to look past that aesthetic error and we made our way there on a rare weekend at home, and were happy with what we found.

DK Diner

Our diner breakfasts were plenty big, and they even offered grits as a side order! Retro Roadhusband was impressed with the coffee, and I dug my corned beef hash.

DK Diner diners

There was definitely that homey feeling in the diner, folks at the counter chatting about babies with the people working there, and the hostess was pleasant as can be. Cool old advertising clock above the kitchen door. I’ll be back to take a better photo when they’re closed!

D-K Diner
609 E Gay St
West Chester, PA 19380
(610) 692-2946
cash only

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Dude’s Drive In in Christiansburg VA is our first Retro Roadmap entry for Virginia, and well worth them mention. Just down the hill from the Starlite Drive In movies, Dude’s has been serving locals and folks just off of Interstate 81 since 1978.


I had researched Dude’s a little bit on Roadfood so we knew it was an eat in your car type of place, but unfortuntately we could not seem to find the ham biscuits nor the drive through service they mention.  Luckily we didn’t even have to honk for the car hop waitress who quickly appeared at our window after we parked in front (that’s our Retro Roadmobile behind the sign.)

Since it was  breakfast we opted for ham and egg sandwiches on the recommended wheat bread. I was a bit thrown off by the “do you want tomatoes and lettuce on that?” question, with it being a breakfast sandwich, but am SO glad we went with that local option, as our sandwiches were just delicious.Take a look:

Dude's Breakfast Sandwich

Kind of like a BLT with egg in it, the sandwich was perfectly grilled and crispy on the outside, glistening with butter and hammy goodness. One thing I did try per Roadfood was Virginia country ham, versus baked ham. The country ham was mighty tasty though on the salty side, but worked well with the melange of flavors in the sandwich.

Dude’s offers all sorts of other foods for other times of the day and is known for it’s Dude Burgers and Red Hot Dogs topped with chili sauce, a local favorite.

Sound Horn For Service

It’s convenient on / off access from the major highway make this an easy detour away from the boring sameness of the highway and chain restaurants. Always good to know about local stops like this when on a retro road trip!

Dude’s Drive In
1505 Roanoke St
Christiansburg, VA 24073
(540) 382-7901

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Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the moooorning! Except that we’re about an hour out in Virginia!

Heading to Dude’s Drive in for breakfast with real Virginia Country ham – yum! Then we’re southbound to North Carolina, hopefully stopping in Mount Airy- the town that the Andy Griffith show was based on. Then it’s to Charlotte where we’ll be spending the next 48 hours or so.

I’ve gotten some great tips on some retro roadmap-worthy food stops, and luckily I’ve got my trusty sidekick Retro Roadhusband with me, who can help out with the sampling. Fried chicken and BBQ- yum!
Hope “y’all” will stop back in soon, y’hear? (I’m so southern :-))

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Nothing say retro road trip to me more than a cabin court motel. The Lincoln Motor Court in Mann’s Choice PA (Just outside of Bedford) is the only cabin court motel remaining in all of Pennsylvania!


The dictionary tells me that the phrase cabin court is an older expression for “a roadside motel having cabins” but to me they are so much more than that. They’re charming looking old fashioned places  that harken back to the years before the chain hotels. Individual cabins or Monopoly Houses (my phrase) that you can call home for a day or more, lend themselves to unique memories.

Independent ownership means that the affordable rate you pay goes directly to the people who own the place and not some faceless overseas corporation. In this case, the affordable rates at the Lincoln Motor Court are paid directly to Bob and Debbie Altizer, who, along with their children, have taken care of the place for over 25 years- and live in the building that is also the office in the middle of the horseshoe of 12 cottages.

Built in the 1940’s the cottages are just charming. The Altizer’s have kept the exteriors as original as possible with cheery metal chairs out front, and window boxes filled with geraniums.


Inside you will find original tongue and groove knotty pine paneling and charming vintage fixtures. This pink bathroom from Mary Deluxe’s cabin would delight anyone who appreciates the color palettes of past eras.


(Save The Pink Bathrooms! – brought to you by the swell folks at Retro Renovation)

There are modern updates too, such as cable TV, refrigerators, and in-room coffee makers. Window fans are used for the mild summer weather. The Altizer’s have hand picked the decorations for each cottage, so no two are alike.

While the Lincoln Motor Court is adorable to look at, the only way it will stick around is if folks actually stay there, and not just stop to take pictures. Brian Butko reports on his blog Lincoln Highway News that the Lincoln has become a geocaching site to attract more visitors and he also posts some nice feedback from people who stayed at the motor court. We stayed here in 2003 and here’s what I wrote about our visit:

What this place lacks in size it makes up for in charm, from Daisy the cat who adopted us and guarded our car, to the interiors which retain many of the original fixtures. My fave discovery in our cabin was when I looked at the side of the 5 drawer dresser and realized that the three bottom drawers had been cut to be about 8 inches deep, so the entire dresser could fit over the old steam radiator in the room. Luxurious is not an adjective that would be used to describe the Lincoln, but I would readily substitute adorable, picturesque, retro and nicely affordable.

Lincoln Motor Court
5104 Lincoln Hwy
Manns Choice, PA 15550-8804
(814) 733-2891

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