Tag Archives: Amish

Melting Pot

By: Mary

I can’t recall when it was that I learned about the definition for melting pot in history, but on Saturday I was reminded of the expression. This was due to the fact that I was at my friend Mary Mark’s house which I have dubbed ” The Amish Mansion” and I was eating fantastic traditional Filipino food that was cooked my Mary’s Filipino friends.

These friends have been a helpful support system to my friend Mary, who was adopted from an orphanage in the Philippines as a girl. It has been many years since she came to America. Mary now has 2 children of her own, and is expecting her 3rd in March.

Here is a photo of her daughter Jade the birthday girl (or monkey as I call her due to her typical habit of hanging off of me) in her pink birthday dress.

Mary and her husband Julian rent their home from my sister-in-laws Aurora’s father. (You can read a more about Aurora here.) Now, Dr. Menn is not only a doctor but a rancher as well. He wears cowboy boots and bolo ties to the hospital.  Doc Menn wanted extra haygound and ended up buying an entire farm from an Amish family to get the acreage. Well, he certainly got more than hayground when he bought this house! Check it out:

I know-crazy right? I swear this house must have at least 10 bedrooms, not to mention tons of odd nooks and crawl spaces. Every room in the house is painted the classic light blue shade that the Amish paint all of their walls The story is that a young Amish family built the home and proceeded to have oodles of children(14 I think) who than proceeded to start their own families. One of the children built on a second home that is adjoined to the first by the  porch.

The place is a fantastic house to wander. When it was vacant I loved to hunt down plants from the abandoned Amish garden and explore the house, all the while feeling like I was in the midst of a Amish commune or Mormon compound. Gone now are the days of vacancy that existed after the Amish family moved North. Since then indoor plumbing and electricity was installed, and the house has been split into 2 units. Now Mary and her husband live on one side and another young family live in the other half.

When I first learned about the phrase melting pot, I thought of European immigrants on Ellis Island. Now the definition has broadened, and yes, it does include a variety of people at a birthday party in an Amish home in rural Wisconsin in the year 2011.

Bud Light and Amish Boys

by Mary

Until last night, I thought that my dear sister Colleen  and her graceful ability with writing had the Amish topic covered. But after meeting up with my brother Rob at the bar yesterday, I realized that I had an addition to make on reporting about Amish happenings around these parts. You may be wondering why I had the inspiration to blog about the Amish while at a tavern of all places. Bear with me and I shall explain.

First, I would like to introduce my favorite bar: Leo and Leona’s. This bar is located along Hwy 33,  just two or three miles from my parents house. The establishment is literally an old piece of ridge history around these parts. In general, I am not a bar person. I abhor smoky places filled with too much crowded commotion, also, random guys hitting on me is not something that I appreciate. Leo and Leona’s is my safe spot. It’s more pub-like than anything. The place is known for good local music that varies. Live music is performed inside the adjoined dance hall, a space that was used to host basketball games and dances under old open beam rafters back in the 40’s. Recently, the bar has started to once again hold square dances. This is something that I find delightfully dorky and oddly fun. Particularly in the summer time , I like to go pop in at the bar. More likely than not, I’ll be in wranglers and cowboy boots and on the way home from riding my horse, or not so put together in an old mini skirt and rain boots. When I am at Leo and Leona’s, it doesn’t really matter, because it’s a low key kind of atmosphere, and I am almost always with my brothers. An hour or two there is a rather amusing experience.

For quite some time now,  one of the owners and the regular bartender have been asking me if I will take up some hours tending bar. In the past, I’ve always laughed the question away. But the other night, I just had to say yes…. You see, the bar is currently being re-sided on the exterior by two young Amish men from the Bangor community. I have seen them busy at work while out running or driving past. Never have I put much energy into thinking about them and their gig (at a tavern for goodness sakes!).

Much to my initial confusion, the other night, I saw both of them not outside the bar, but IN it! One was dressed in normal Amish garb, the other in jeans and a checkered shirt. Regardless of his “englisher” clothing, his tell-tale bowl cut hair and demeanor totally gave him away as a young Amish man out in the mainstream world.

Though it was difficult not to stare because of the supreme awkwardness of the entire situation, I held my ground and didn’t gawk at them perched on stools at the end of the bar. After a bit, Dan a Co-Owner of the place, threw out his old offer of “Mary, you want to bartend?” “Why” I asked. His response was “Well Levi and his friend here don’t want to see any old man behind the bar. They want a women to serve them drinks, so can’t you just fill in for Mark while he goes out on break?”

This offering of all offerings was such a bizarre situation that I couldn’t resist. Really, I mean how many people hand out cold Bud Lights to rebellious Amish carpenters? With a timid but jovial attitude, and my maximum drinking limit of 2 gins and tonics, I took up the job of a temporary bartender for a bit.

I have a super embarrassing track record of reading what I consider to be junk food for the brain, that is, Amish fiction novels. It seems like all the books are the same. You have the rebel drama. Young Amish guys drive cars, drink, and try to date worldy women. Before, I used to just snort and think about how silly those fluff books are. It’s so weird to be in a setting where it actually is what those bad-for-my-brain books have chapters about. My brother swears that they were checking me out….weird, weird weird!

In the future, I have no interest in serving any Amish bad boys beer. I would much rather do business with them. I’ll stick to having them ferry my horses hooves and sell me tack and fencing supplys. It’s a heck of a lot less weird, plus I can always use a new halter or shank. Perhaps I can barter for tack with Bud Light though?

The Simple Life (with Soda Pop and Subs)

By Colleen

While at the local convenience store/deli in the tiny, tiny town of Cashton on Friday night a few weeks back, I noted a sight that gave me some pause.  I live in a part of Western Wisconsin that happens to have a large Amish community, and I’ve grown up seeing them all around.  I’ve seen them walking along the side of the road as my loud, yellow bus flies by; I’ve met them coming into or out of town in their buggies in the rain, snow, sleet, and shine; I’ve gone with Dad on countless trips to Amish homes, and have been stared at by the younger children, wide eyes and little pink mouths slightly ajar.  For me, the Amish are a part of life in Western Wisconsin, but I know this is not the case in most of the rest of the country.

This is why I was suddenly struck by the rarity of what happened on that Friday night.  It was around 9 o’clock at night when a group of three or four Amish walked in, a woman and a couple of men.  Dressed in their somber grays, blacks, and navy blues, they made quite a contrast against the shelves of snack foods which blared gold, blue, purple, and green loudly off their plastic covered wrappings.  They went about their business, speaking in quiet tones, and ordered a round of sub sandwiches from the deli section.  Then, they stood back to wait, leaning a little awkwardly against the wall.  The woman sipped a container of Pepsi, and glanced around nonchalantly.  Perhaps they were on their way back from an Amish wedding or church service.  They looked like any travel-weary person, just waiting for a bite to eat and then back to the open road.  The main difference: these travelers wouldn’t be hopping into a Buick or a Honda-they got to look forward to a bumpy buggy ride home, with a tired horse to take them there.

What I loved most about this simple occurrence was how my friends handled it.  They’ve both grown up in the area and did not even blink when the Amish came in.  In fact, I was the only one who noted these quiet folk as they went about their simple way of living, sipping soda under the fluorescent lights.