Stalking the Amish with a side of Coleslaw

Written in 2009
 The History

Anyone who has had conversations with me knows that I have always dreamed of living on the edge of some Amish village. I have had nothing but wonderful thoughts of baking cherry pies and having an Amish husband as long as he looked like any of the men in the film “Witness”. My life would joyously be filled with baking, building, and birthing babies.

Did I say birthing babies?  (insert car brakes here)
Okay, let’s just stick with the baking, building, and maybe the odd tending of cattle.
I started my personal Amish education by owning a black Amish hat, and wearing it to certain functions. To this day I am still able to make mean funnel cakes and great corn chowder. I watched Amish “chick-cu-mentaries” such as “Witness” and “For Richer or Poorer” for continuing research of the Amish culture. After thirty years of dreaming I decided that my only solution was to make a field trip to Intercourse, Pa.

A few years ago I journeyed to the beloved town of Intercourse, and was overjoyed to see the ruts of the carriage wheels imprinted in the roads. I breathed in the fresh air that hinted of just the right amount of cow manure, saw the overpriced gift stores, and fondled the quilts. Sharing a restaurant dining table with a non-related family, I consumed 4000 calories of food at once “family style”.
Not content with the “Disney” part of Intercourse I walked along some of the side roads to “be with the people”, as they say. I saw an Amish woman peacefully hanging laundry with her two young daughters at her side. I waved, and the little girls waved back. The mother shielded her eyes from the sun to see if she knew the woman with the flaming red hair and ankle length black lace dress. Sensing I was nothing but trouble, she herded her little girls inside the house, laundry and all.

I slowly walked back into town and was elated, yet sad. I was finally in the Amish paradise I had longed for, but knew I would never fit in. Sadly I realized that my dreams of living among them would now simply consist of forever just wearing a hat.
walmart amish.JPG

The Reality

Every Labour Day weekend I still stalk the Amish. Those would be the innocent ones that get on the Greyhound bus in Watertown N.Y. For years I have gotten on that bus and seen the same Amish folks and have always smiled and said hello. Generally, they put their hands over their face and shun me but I never give up.

Last year the oldest one, sensing I would not stop until someone said something, said hello and encouraged the others to greet me also. Their men folk were busy standing outside smoking, drinking Sprite, and chatting up a middle age lass in flip flops. Yes, I have noted that they smoke, drink Sprite, and they love Subway. I have documented each thing they do even though I don’t understand the Amish language.
On one ride to Syracuse I studied one of the younger Amish men that looked nothing like any of the men from “Witness”. He had a badly cut Buster Brown hair cut with Bette Davis bangs. His beard was thick, and I could smell the aroma of “eau de dairy” from my seat three rows down.

Once in Syracuse I sat behind them and tried to snap pictures of them. All the women had the very same black tote bag trimmed in silver tack heads. One of the women had an odd brown briefcase, and I wondered what kind business she had. Turns out this Amish woman was actually in the “business” of lunch.

The brown briefcase ended up being the ultimate picnic hamper. She had hand covered the interior with bright flowered fabric, and I wondered if Martha Stewart had ever thought of such a thing. Utensils and napkins were fitted carefully into the top pockets, while the bottom of the case held dishes wrapped in a handmade dishtowel.

She placed a large table cloth on one of the chairs and filled it with homemade salami, bread, a fresh picked tomato, and a small container of coleslaw. I was amazed that the Amish did not worry about botulism like I do.

I sat there mesmerized, and the more she ate, the more I craved her coleslaw.  Attempting to make verbal progress with the Amish woman I went up to her and asked if her recipe for coleslaw was the same as mine.  I proudly smiled and said the recipe came from one from my cookbooks called “Cooking with the Horse & Buggy People”.

This time I did not get any smiles or a greeting.  All I got was the famous shun and I was now back to square one.

Want to see more? Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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