Community offers glimpse into Amish way of life
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Nagel's observations were not limited to the animal kingdom. Families here, he told us, are typically large; seven to 14 children are common. All in the area who are not Amish are called 'English' by those who are.
When Amish die, they are placed in locally made oak caskets, and homemade, concrete headstones mark their burial places.
Another stop on the tour was a metal-sheathed building used mainly as a bakery. An oven on top of a kerosene stove produced breads and cookies for sale. (A wood range also was occasionally used.)
To keep busy while bread bakes, the women make quilts. A frame with a quilt in progress was in one corner of the room.
Our next tour stop was the farm of a family with nine children. In addition to raising crops, the family builds furniture; handsome pieces were on display in a small shop. To collect money for small items, as well as for jars of homemade jam, a rough-hewn wooden box sat on a table near the entrance. Nobody from the family was present, only a sign: 'Money box. Be honest. Thank you.'
After a few other stops, our tour van headed back to town. Those of us on the tour had gained insight into a culture close at hand that showed a life possible without all the high-tech bells and whistles with which most of us live.
A visit to Harmony, Minn., provides some insight into the lifestyle of the members of its Amish community. For worship, Amish do not have churches. Instead, members gather in homes every other Sunday from 9 a.m. until noon. Sermons are preached in German. The community is headed by a bishop, but since he cannot attend each service, others also give homilies.
Men stop shaving after getting married, so it is easy to tell who is single. Civilian barbershops are not needed; someone with the group does the job.
People communally assemble to perform major jobs - such as canning. Apples, cherries and peaches come to a common location seasonally, and a joint effort processes them. When a new house is to be built, or a barn raised, men come from miles around to help out. With as many as 75 on the job, even a large barn is raised in a day or so.
- Joseph H. Foegen
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