GORDONVILLE — With one flash of her finger, an unrepentant Amish child became a sleek marketing icon and an international symbol for the counter-culture at the same time.
But all the 11-year-old Gordonville resident wants, she said, is to be left alone. She declined to give her name she said, “for fear of a thrashin’ from Pa.”
“I didn’t think it would make the danged English drive by even MORE,” said the child. “Now they’re like horse manure-flies. But I’d do it again. You ask people, ‘Please don’t take my picture,’ real nice-like and they up and do it anyway. Somebody had to do something, so I did.”
“I thought I’d point back at ’em, was all.” The image, of the Amish youngster proudly displaying her middle finger for the camera, has been reproduced on T-shirts, bumper stickers, lapel pins,posters, pens and hats. Local stores have been unable to maintain an adequate supply of the material since the image was shown on four major international news organizations last week.
“It’s all anybody’s been talking about here in Intercourse,” said Clarissa Candiotti of Clarissa’s Keepsakes. “My favorite is the one of the silhouette of the girl with the caption underneath her that reads, ‘Go ahead and take my photo.'”
Michigan resident Doris Archer was one of the tourists on the bus the day the girl made her obscene gesture. She said she was stunned. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Archer said. “The brochures didn’t say anything about this happening. We were expecting a smile and a wave. I had to cover my son’s eyes.”
Alex Culbreth, a Strasburg resident who signed up to the tour as a way to entertain bored relatives from Iowa, said “camera shutters didn’t stop clicking for the entire 10 seconds she was giving us the bird.” Culbreth said he was the first to translate the event into a marketing idea. “Everybody wants to gawk at the Amish because they are living a life that nobody else can understand,” Culbreth said. “But the truth is, their heritage is a money making business for them too, what with the quilts,the furniture, the faceless dolls and the refrigerator magnets, not to mention the chow chow food and the shoo-fly pies.”
Ameritours spokesman Darren Matheson said the bus company has created awaiting list for tourists wanting to take the Amish Country xperience tour.
“Sales have just been through the roof,” Matheson said. “I guess everybody wants to see the little Amish kid who flipped off the world.”