Who are the “plain people,” the men and women who till their fields with horse and plow, travel by horse and buggy, live without electricity and telephones, and practice “help thy neighbor” in daily life? Linda Egenes visited with her Old Order Amish neighbors in southeast Iowa for thirteen years before writing this informative and companionable introduction to their lifeways.
Drawn to their slower pace of life and their resistance to the lures of a consumer society, Egenes found a warm welcome among the Amish, and in return she has given us an equally warm perspective on Amish family life as she experienced it. The Amish value harmony in family life above all, and Egenes found an abundance of harmony as she savored homemade ice cream in a kitchen where the refrigerator ran on kerosene, learned to milk a two-bucket cow, helped cook dinner for nine in a summer kitchen, spent the day in a one-room schoolhouse, and sang “The Hymn of Praise” in its original German at Sunday service.
Whether quilting at a weekly sewing circle above the Stringtown Grocery, playing Dutch Blitz and Dare Base with schoolchildren, learning the intricacies of harness making, or mulching strawberries in a huge garden, Egenes was treated with the kindness, respect, and dignity that exemplify the strong community ties of the Amish. Her engaging account of her visits with the Amish, beautifully illustrated with woodcuts by Caldecott Medal winner Mary Azarian, reveals the serene and peaceful ways of a plain people whose lives are anything but plain.
“Visits with the Amish is as gentle and open as the lives of the people it chronicles. The detailed mini-portraits are compassionate yet as candid and observant as anything written about the plain people that I have read. By honestly sketching the little things of everyday Amish culture, Egenes manages to capture the faithful heart of this community of believers.”—Scott Savage, author, A Plain Life: Walking My Belief
“Direct, respectful, and informative, Visits with the Amish takes us into the very homes and businesses of the plain people. There we enter a culture so different from the American mainstream that we are forced to examine our own spiritual beliefs, identities, and values. This slim, quiet book should assume a big place on the bookshelves of anyone interested in anthropology, religion, folklore, or sustainable living.”—Mary Swander, author, Out of This World: A Journey of Healing
“Visits with the Amish invites the reader to experience glimpses into the daily life of the Old Order Amish and gives a full sense of what it means to be Amish. Conversations about milking, cooking in the summer kitchen, quilting, and more capture in their own words their heartfelt commitment to home, school, community, and customs.”—Martha Moore Davis, author, Sarah’s Seasons: An Amish Diary and Conversation
Introduction: Who are the Amish?
Part one: Home
Chapter 1: At home with the Herschbergers 3
Chapter 2: Milking a two-bucket cow 13
Chapter 3: Cooking in the Yoders’ summer kitchen 23
Part two: School and work
Chapter 4: Learning the three Rs 33
Chapter 5: How Grace Yoder spent her summer vacation 43
Chapter 6: Snaps, buckles, and straps 51
Part three: Community
Chapter 7: The heart of Amish life 63
Chapter 8: Quilting above Stringtown Grocery 71
Chapter 9: A trip to Dorothy Mast’s country store 81
Part four: Customs
Chapter 10: Playing Dutch Blitz and Dare Base 89
Chapter 11: Courtship and marriage 95