Monday, May 07, 2007

The Miller Way....Amish Edition

Jake and I spent the past week-end in "Amish Country". For those of you that aren't from Ohio - "Amish Country" is a couple of counties in Ohio where the Amish live. It is the largest Amish community in the world (according to a sign I read this week-end). Jake grew up in the area so he knows his way around really well. As for me...I've always just been a tourist. We stayed in a very nice Bed & Breakfast in Berlin. It is fairly close to Jake's hometown of Fredericksburg. It is a small town (population of 487). Berlin is the touristy area. There are a zillion shops with crafty type stuff. We spent some time going through them. I bought an old bracelet at a little flea market type shop. Mostly, the stuff in the shops didn't interest me....everything started to look the same and very overpriced. I did see a few Amish and Mennonite people and of course we saw many horse and buggies.

I have mentioned many times before that Jake's father grew up Amish. He left the Amish when he was 16. He had not yet joined the Church so he was not excommunicated and still gets to spend time with some of his family that is still Amish. Linda was never Amish but her parents were. So...when you think about it, Jake is a pure bread Amish by blood. Like many people, I am so fascinated by the Amish and their way of life. Jake is soooo over it.

So, most of you already know all that I want to tell you (and show you) about some of the interesting things I've seen/learned, about the Amish, since I met the Millers. I want to preface this by saying I don't mean any disrespect to the Amish or anyone else for that matter. The Amish are kinda weird about people getting into their business so I guess they might be mad a me if they knew I am going to debunk some of the myths. Either way, if you are mad I prefer you email me privately. I don't claim to be an Amish expert or anything. I may get some stuff wrong. If you know more or if I am off on something feel free to leave a comment.

Myth #1: All Amish are the same. No, they aren't. There are different "orders" of the Amish. Some are old order (more like orthodox) and some are new order (they are the ones that wear more color).

Myth #2: Amish are poor. I am guessing at this but I am pretty sure there are different economic statuses in the Amish as in every culture. In the grocery store I saw an Amish man writing a check, so I know they use banks. If you look at their homes and stuff you would think they are pretty well off. Some family have 30 horses as well as, pigs, cows, etc.... I've also heard people say something about the Amish not paying taxes but I am pretty sure they have to....I guess Paul could answer that question. If you think about it, the Amish have jobs, businesses, and trades. They save money on some of the amenities you and I splurge on...they grow their own food and livestock. They probably have more money than any of us.

Myth #3: The Amish don't use phones. Wrong. Many of them have phones. They just aren't in their houses. You might want to sit down for this one....many also have cell phones.

Myth #4: The Amish don't have running water. They do. I have been in a real Amish home (Jake's Aunt & Uncle's) and I used an indoor bathroom with running water. I don't know for sure how they make it work because they don't use electricity but it did.

Myth #5: The Amish are very "spiritual". I guess you could say they are very religious....into the rituals of religion but most of them don't know much about the Bible. The Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch (not a written language....just spoken). They do learn English when they go to school but when they go to church the service is in German. I read a book about a girl who left the Amish Way. When a person starts reading an English Bible (and found out what it really said) it was usually a sign they were going to leave the Amish.

Okay....I think that is enough for today. I have lots more to tell you about the weekend but you will have to wait until tomorrow (or later because I am heading to WV in the A.M.).

Here are some pics.......

This is an Amish house. The little building in the front is the little phone house.
These are Amish cows. They aren't anything special. I just liked the picture.

I love this picture. This is "Amish Church". They have church once every two weeks. It is held in a home of one of the church members. I asked Jake how they can tell their buggies & horses apart. He said he didn't know but at weddings they mark they horses so they know which is theirs.

The church.

An Amish playground, at a school. Amish kids still get to play on teeter totters. Have you noticed these things are extinct in modern playgrounds??? People say they are dangerous.


Jake said...

Wow, the pictures you took turned out really good. They look sharp as black and white.

I don't think you need electricity to have running water.

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

Way to crush all the peoples imaginary thoughts of the Amish! Nice pics.

Mandy said...

Great pictures! Maybe next time you're in the area you could stop in for a visit.

Papaw said...

Actually, Jake, they don't number the buggies at weddings but they do number them at funerals in order to keep track of how many buggies come. Every horse and every buggy has their own little difference and I do not remember anyone having trouble finding their own.

They pump water in a lot of ways; some use windmills, some use gas engines some use hand pumps. On the farm I grew up on we used to use a windmill whcih pumped the water into a cistern which sat higher than our buildings and the water flowed by gravity from there (excatly what we did here until I connected to the municipal water supply). We had it trucked in and put in the cistern (water tank). Now the farm water is supplied via air pressure from a spring. Swartzentruber amish are not allowed to have running water in their homes, however they are permitted to have a hand pump in the kitchen. New order amish have electricty for their farm or business but I've seen extensions cords running into houses powering about everything. New order amish can also have phones in the homes.

On the subject of cell phones, The church where my brother goes allows them to use at work but they are not permitted to have them on while they are at home but like with their other rules you just have to be carefull not to get caught.

Amish are in all different economic classes. I grew up dirt poor. Others are millionaires. Actually a lot of the amish are pretty good at making money.

The best thing to remember about amish is that they really aren't that different the rest of their non-amish neighbors. They have the same flaws as the rest of us-they are much better at hiding it in their secretive society.


Stephanie said...

Those pictures are good. As a kid a remember being very confused at my great uncles house. They had electric in the barn and basement of the house, but not in the main living area. There are so many rules and everyone is looking for ways around them.

Kat Coble said...

I come from a Mennonite family and have several (married into our family) relatives who came out of the Amish.

I'm currently writing a book which features an Amish family as central characters and wanted to let you know that this blog entry actually helped me clear something up. I KNEW some Amish had running water but my editor didn't believe me. ;-p

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