Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Amish

An Amish man visited our house on Sunday and we all had a laugh because he is my brother. Matthew, in his Goodwill and costume shop (for hat and real hair beard) getup, also well acted the part and could easily pass as one of these people.

We had a birthday party for the boys. The oldest turned 11 in September and the other two, who will be 8 and 10, share birthdays that are two days apart in November.
November, in the past, has been a month when illness plagues our home so we decided to have a Halloween-themed party in October, which the Amish man attended.

The Amish support their large families by selling all kinds of goods from jams and jellies to quilts and furniture. They live in big farmhouses (one of my fantasies), ride in black buggies along the roadways, and generally attract attention with their simple living and plain dress.

My fascination with the Amish stems possibly from 1985 and the film “Witness” starring my early adult look-a-like, Kelly McGillis who paired with Harrison Ford to bring us an outstanding portrayal of a torn woman, who just happens to be Amish.
McGillis’ next film, “Top Gun” in 1986, landed her acclaim and it remains popular to this day. Three years after McGillis and Tom Cruise steamed up the silver screen at Top Gun Naval Flying School, I was sporting a longer hairstyle and was informed by the managing editor who hired me that I resembled Ms. McGillis.

Early in my career I had the opportunity to visit an Amish schoolhouse in Noble County where I took notes and also took photographs (of Amish children’s hats hanging on peg rails in the mudroom at the entrance to the school, which was heated by a potbelly stove). I did not photograph the Amish as they do not like to be photographed. It was one of my most memorable feature stories, not award-winning, but interesting.

Through the years I have followed the Amish stories, near and far. I have read about the Amish man, from the burb of nearby Birmingham, who was tried and convicted of crimes that I will not disclose here. I have watched the story unfold on national television of a man who carried out an even more horrendous crime involving the Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

In August I again visited Amish County, located in Holmes County just over an hour north of here, and purchased their goods and ate their food and remained intrigued by their ways, despite their tragedies.

A co-worker - who is equally allured by the culture as I - liked the photos I took of two Amish boys, eating watermelon and selling baskets. We were not surprised that the one boy, who finally became aware of my camera – pointing at him - covered his face with his hat. Another co-worker, who is easily annoyed by our Amish commentary, suggested we might just as well visit our own Guernsey County - more specifically his Quaker City - to see the Amish doing Amish things.

Ironically, a new situation has developed in my family which involves the Amish. The Old Man has recently taken a job as a timber buyer and his competitors are the Amish. He says Amish have “raped” the landscape, especially in Noble County, gathering precious oak and cherry trees for their hand-crafted furniture.

It is a small world in which we live … with the Amish.


  1. One of my friends lived in Quaker City for awhile and told me about her Amish friends. Every so often I'll see a buggy around Old Washington or on SR 800. I don't see buggies around here, but I know there are many Amish in our county. They show up in Walmart buying huge bags of Doritos and cases of Pepsi. (Always makes me laugh.)

    Nice you can combine birthdays for the kids. I do that sometimes with my Nov. & Dec. babies. :)

  2. I had Lindsey dress Amish a few years ago for Halloween; bought her a dress in Amish Country for $4 and asked a friend to sew an apron & hat. So cute.