Taxi! Wait...I meant BUGGY!!!

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Nearing the end of the road....one hoof at a time...

Submitted: September 17, 2006

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Submitted: September 17, 2006

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Top of the morning to you from Illinois!

It was with some relief that we turned off Highway 57, heading south from Wisconsin. The traffic was bumper to bumper for at least a hundred miles.
OK, it was bumper to bumper for four miles, but I have never been the most patient person in slow-moving situations.

It was only after we had turned and driven onto the more rural road, that we realized we were in equally heavy traffic. Only this time, it wasn’t cars.

We found ourselves in the midst of a 4 “horse and buggy” pile up!

Our destination, Arcola, is one of the more prominent Amish communities in Illinois.

For those of you who don’t know, the “Amish” are communities of deeply religious people who have shunned all the pleasures of modern day technologies.
They consume no electricity, and strictly forbid the use of telephones, televisions, and all other present day conveniences that we take for granted.

One of the reasons for this, is that they believe such appliances lead to vanity. I can’t remember an instance when picking up the phone left me with such an overwhelming feeling of narcissism, that I had to drop everything and rush over to strike a sexy pose in front of the mirror.

But hey? That’s just me.

Within the USA, there are approximately five different Orders of Amish:
the Old Order Amish, the Andy Weaver Amish (not to be confused with the lesser known, but equally offbeat ‘Andy Griffith Amish’), the Beachy Amish, the Swartzentruber Amish, and last, but not least, the New Order Amish.
Rumor has it, that when the candles are blown out, and the horses are in their stables for the night, this particularly progressive group of Amish gets down and does some REALLY groovy 80s dancing.

The town of Arcola is the epitome of the Amish lifestyle.
There are many little shops sporting handmade quilts and various Amish wares and food. Some of the more traditional Amish meals consist of ‘shoo-fly’ pie and turkey syrup.

I am not quite sure that I ever want to know how they extract syrup from a turkey, even in the name of research.
I have a feeling though, that as far as the turkey is concerned, Thanksgiving Day worries pale in the face of this type of procedure.

Another shop had a sign out in front; advertising freshly baked Amish Snickerdoodles. (DON’T even THINK about going there…)

The customary dress code for the Amish also reflects their austere lifestyle. The men wear black, straight-cut suits with tall black hats. Women are restricted to wearing cotton bonnets, ankle-length skirts and aprons.

The young men must remain clean-shaven until marriage, and then they may (and usually do) grow a beard, very a la Abe Lincoln. I don’t know for sure, but I would suspect that in a culture so committed to conformity, that women, after marriage, would be allowed to toss the leg razors and eat snickerdoodle to their heart’s content – sod the diet!

There is an annual celebration held in Arcola called the “Broom Corn Festival.” This is conducted every June, and is apparently, according to some of the locals, a truly kick-ass event.

The neighboring town of Arthur has a similar field day called “Dustpan Bean Festival,” and a little further down the road, the Amish community of Atwood conducts the “Vacuum Cleaner and Rice Crispies Festival.”

The kind folks of Arcola were nothing but genuinely helpful and welcoming during our visit. I met a very hospitable young man named Amos Troyer, who introduced me to his brother Amos Yoder, who then in turn, brought out his first cousin Yoder Troyer and his friend Amos Amos.

Whilst this way of life seems to suit these fair people, one cannot help but wonder whether the Amish youth get just a little peeved sometimes, when they see what their more modern friends are doing.

I mean, how would parents spot signs of trouble with their teenage sons?
In mainstream society, parents are constantly on the look out for signs of drugs and alcohol when it comes to their adolescent offspring.

What do the Amish parents look for?
I am guessing that these are a few telltale signs that would indicate your Amish teenage son was heading for trouble:

a) In his sock drawer, you find pictures of women without bonnets.

b) When you criticize him, he yells, "Thou sucketh!"

c) He’s wearing his big black hat backwards.

Now that we are on the subject, what do Amish teens do during their Spring Break?

Do they have “Wet Apron” Contests? Do they tear around the streets after 7pm in a souped-up Clydesdale?
Maybe they do what any other hormone-charged youth does with their friends, and drink molasses from a farm boot until they heave.

There are a few other tales that indicate a slow movement by the Amish towards embracing more aspects of today’s culture.
In Pennsylvania, a couple of the fast food outlets, in and around the Amish communities, have set up “Buggy Drive-Through Windows.”
Perhaps these were designed specifically for a new, radical faction of these people – The McAmish.

All in all, we had a delightful stay in Arcola. The Amish folk are very hard working, and they do not seek to impose their culture on anyone else.
We were greeted with warm smiles and friendly service everywhere we went, although I was constantly met with blank looks each time I asked if Harrison Ford was hiding out in the general vicinity.

I suspect that they turned to each other after we left and agreed that in my case - “The lantern was lit, but no one was home.”

As we were leaving this delightful township, my husband and I couldn’t help but laugh at the buggy in front of us. Despite their strict and rigid lifestyle, the Amish still have a terrific sense of humor, as the bumper sticker on the back of the carriage showed us.

“I may be slow, but I’m ahead of you AND I got traffic backed-up 5 miles.”


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