North Country Public Radio aired an interesting story the other day about the Swartzentruber Amish of Upstate New York and how they are increasingly relying on milk production to earn a living. The piece chronicles some of the compromises they’ve made to embrace the economics. I thought it was an interesting story on those merits alone and eagerly read it but then I stopped short when I got to one particular sentence where the reporter describes an Amish man leaning back and lighting a stogie. Say what??
In my over two decades of visiting Amish settlements all over the USA and Canada I’ve never seen an Amish person smoking, although I know some do. Tobacco seems to be a habit that is either very private or very localized to certain communities. One friend of mine attended an Amish wedding in Pennsylvania several years ago and wrote to me afterwards about how “some of the men sat in chairs outside under the trees talking and smoking” after the wedding, behavior that she described as “typical.”
There are some Amish in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Kentucky that grow tobacco and in some church districts smoking is permitted. Here is an interesting more in-depth article about the Amish and smoking.
To actually whip out a cigar and start puffing away in an ultra-conservative Swartzentruber settlement would just seem like a real rarity. Cigars themselves are usually seen as a bit more extravagant and celebratory and, well, it just struck me as odd. Funny how a single sentence can throw one’s focus way off the original intent of the article which was about milk production. Click here to read the interesting article on North Country Public Radio. Did the cigar scene jump out at you also?