Saturday, February 12, 2011
Visiting My Amish Friends
I will be the first to tell you that I thoroughly enjoy all of my modern conveniences: my coffee maker, my microwave, the telephone, my car and of course, my computer and the internet. There is still something that draws me to the Amish way of life and the wonderful people. I have some wonderful Amish friends and I am certain that they add a lot of enjoyment to my existance. The Amish have helped us with many repair and building projects over the past several years. They have built a garage, a grape harbor, a gazebo, a swing harbor and a pergola as well as building a large addition onto our home. We have also purchased several pieces of furniture from them over the years and I will tell you that their craftsmanship is outstanding. I feel fortunate that a large Amish community lives within ten miles of our home. While working at a bank in Hillsboro, I had an occasion to meet some members of an old order Amish community that had recently settled in the nearby area. A few of the members of the community had come into the bank inquiring about banking services. It would be the bank's first experience with Amish customers. One of the officers of the bank suggested that we visit some of the people in the community to try to make their transition to our area a little easier. We told them what day we would be visiting and they agreed to have several of the "men folk" attend our little meeting. A few families had recently moved to the area and bought a farm which they divided amoung them. Some of them lived in existing houses, some of them built a home and the family that was our primary contact took the barn as their home. The day that we arrived at their barn, it was a warm, wet, muddy day. When we got out of the car, we had to be careful where we stepped to avoid the mud and the horse manure. There was a little porch on the entrance to the barn where one of the girls had displayed "mud rugs" that were for sale. We knocked on the door and were immediately invited in. Walking into that barn was like stepping back in time and I know my eyes were as wide as saucers. The family of six that lived in the barn consisted of the husband, the wife, three adult sons and one daughter-in-law. One by one, horse-drawn buggies began arriving. Before long, there was about five or six men including the community Bishop. We were told that their community was an "old order Amish" group. This meant that they were not to ride in an automobile unless it was a medical emergency. The inside of the barn was full of wonderful primitive furnishings, a wood cook stove and a large table surrounded by benches in the center of the room. We were invited to sit at the table and the lady of the house offered us coffee from a granite coffee pot from the wood stove. She asked if we would like some banana bread and we accepted. She went into a pantry room and came back with the wonderful aromatic bread on two small plates. The floors were smooth and swept clean. The men sat around the table and asked questions pertaining to starting a banking relationship. While we talked, the daughter-in-law quietly sat in the back of the room working on a quilt that she was making. The quilt frame that she was using was suspended from the ceiling of the barn by chains. She told me that they pulled it up and out of the way when she was not working on it. The window in the barn was raised and I could feel the cool breeze that blew the curtains as it came through the window. The chickens just outside were lazily clucking and picking bugs from the ground. There was a small building with a tin roof a few feet from the barn. It looked like a little storage shed. We were told that is where the son and his wife spent their nights. We enjoyed our visit that day and were made to feel very welcome in their home. They told us that they sold jams and jellies and homemade bakery items. Just up the road, one of the families made handmade baskets that were for sale. I went back to their community several more times. I purchased wonderful homemade apple butter and several beautiful baskets. They soon began building a basement just across the driveway from the barn and one of the sons and his wife moved into the basement until they could build a house on top of it. On one occasion, I had some paperwork to deliver to one of them. That day the men were not at home and one of the ladies told me that they were just down the road at the home of one of their neighbors at a barn raising. She gave me directions and I found the place easily. It was an awesome sight seeing all of those men swinging hammers and getting that barn built. One day when some of them were in the bank, one of the unmarried sons told me that they were going out of state to bring back a wife for him. She was the cousin of his brother's wife and they had met her at the brother's wedding. I just saw them the other day at the grocery store and they have two children now. The bank installed a hitching post behind the bank in Hillsboro to accomodate their horses when they came to town. The bank officer who initially went to their home with me went to the store for them every week to purchase flour, sugar and other baking essentials that he delivered to them. The relationship was more than just a professional one - they had become our friends.