By Kevin Williams
I received a wonderful email from a reader named Christine yesterday describing a recent experience she had in Amish Country (I wish more of you would share such experiences with me, then I can share with everyone!). She wrote a richly detailed account which I think is so well-written I don't need to add much to it. Still, I will add my comments below for after you read it. Her account is in italics below:
I was in the Lancaster PA/Dutch area for a little get away with my husband and we were traveling on some back roads, following hand painted signs in an effort to buy fresh eggs and homemade potato chips. We were the only car on a windy road in the area of Paradise. All of a sudden we come upon a young Amish girl, probably about 15 or so and her 2 little brothers, who were
5 and 7 years old. They had a small cart being pulled along by a pony and the rear wheel came off and they were stranded.
We stopped our car to make sure they were okay, especially after noticing the youngest boy crying. They were fine, but got scared when the cart crashed to the ground when the wheel fell off. The sister was calm, but nervous about what to do.
Since they had three large sacks of some grain or seeds in the back they couldn't leave the cart and they were about three miles from their farm. We offered to drive them home if they wanted or to call local police or someone they knew with a phone, but they immediately accepted our offer of a ride. They jumped in the back seat, my husband loaded the sacks into our trunk and tied down the lid.
A few minutes and a few turns later, we pulled into their farm. When our car pulled up near the side door they got out and went inside.Then they came out with their Mother, another sister and a young boy who ran to a barn further back. The girl explained to her Mom what
happened to them, and the Mom was surprised and shocked. As soon as she heard she stepped up to me to shake my hand and offer her thanks and gratitude. She kept just saying "oh my", "oh my". Thank you, so very much" Just then her husband came from the barn
and she spoke to him in German and he too immediately started to say thank you and shook my husband's hand vigorously. My husband had a pocket knife and went to cut the rope to open the trunk, but the father stepped in and said No he would do the rest. He insisted we go
up on the porch for a drink while he and his sons unloaded the car.
I learned they were the Lapp family, they had 8 kids. The oldest daughter who we drove home went inside and came out with glasses of ice water and homemade root beer and another daughter came outside with a bowl of pretzels and homemade cheese. We sat and chatted about the area, their farm and the husband was very interested in my husband's business of commercial excavation. Their farm was a small dairy farm and they had a large vegetable garden that produced vegetables they sold at a stand. The mom Anna, asked me if I had children. When I told her I had three grown children and three grandchildren she said she loved babies and couldn't wait
to be a grandmother one day. My guess was they were both in their mid 40's. They were the nicest people! We must have stayed about ½ hour and when we got up to leave she asked me to step inside the house. She asked me if I liked honey and then she selected a jar from her cabinet
and then went into another back room and came out with a large piece of the cheese we had eaten, wrapped up in wax paper. She makes the cheese with her sisters and her mother-in-law makes the honey.
RELATED RECIPE: Click here for a recipe for homemade root beer.
From where I was standing I could see the kitchen was huge and had various hutches along
the walls and a huge long dinner table in the center of the room. Off to the side was an archway that I assumed led to a sitting room, because I could see the side of a couch. The kitchen was so bright and sunny! It was a wonderful experience and one I will never forget. I have chatted with Amish before when I go to their farmstands but never on a level like this. I have always found them to be friendly and nice.
I LOVED this story on so many levels. Reader Christine is a super writer, so I was vividly drawn into this account. Plus there was so much I recognized in it. Lapp, for instance, is about the most common Amish last name in Lancaster County. Then you had the homemade root beet, something that is very popular in Lancaster County's Amish community, but not so much elsewhere. And Christine told me it is an acquired taste, often served at room temperature. I agree with that assessment, I excitedly bought some from an Amish farm in Lancaster once and I wasn't blown away by it. This story also illustrates something about the Amish, they are a very, very, very, very transactional culture. Perhaps more so than any people I've ever met and it cuts across most all Amish. Yes, the Amish woman was being very kind by giving Christine cheese and homemade honey (I'm envious), but she also felt that she "owed" Christine something for the act of transporting and helping their children. That said, many people - Amish or non- would want to repay kindness like that with kindness, but the transactional nature of Amish culture can often extend to far, far smaller gestures. They generally just don't like to take anything or owe anyone. Anyway, what a great story and Christine really captured the warmth and hospitality of the family!
What a great story!!! Thanks to Christine for sharing it...
What a wonderful story! My husband's grandmother often made homemade root beer, the taste is nothing like store bought that's for sure!
Amber, where are you located? Perhaps there is an Amish settlement near you that you aren't even aware of, I can let you know! (Brenneman, by the way, is a common Amish last name)
Wonderful story written by Christine. Glad she could help the children get home safely with their things.
Agreed, Lynn, it was a sweet story!
You're right Kevin. It was a beautiful story and I wanted more. We almost saw a young girl become injured one day while driving a dirt road near a farm outside of Berlin, Ohio. A young girl was riding her pony towards us and I began to slow down just in case something went wrong. The point began to hesitate so I slowed completely and stopped. The point came even with my window and it seemed we made eye contact. He got wilder and the girl started trying to calm him down. He bolted and ran down into the ditch and thru their fence into a pasture and threw the girl off his back. My wife jumped out of our car and went to check on her. It turned out that both she and her point were unhurt and we ended up driving on. It turned oof just fine but we will both always remember that meeting.
Always good to hear from you, Tim....that sounds like quite a story too, glad no one, pony included, was hurt!
I loved reading this. What a wonderful experience.