Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Amish School Benefit Fish Fry

Last Wednesday evening Joseph Yoder phoned to ask if J. could convey him to Glasgow on Friday morning to fetch the bent-hickory rocking chair which was being raffled to benefit the little Amish school.
J. decided he could do that.  Joe was planning to work a half day at the furniture factory and made arrangements for J. to pick him up at 10:15.
If you've read my previous posts you may recall that on Friday morning we were transporting [and then chasing] Dory the Cow.
With Dory secured J. flung himself into the car, headed down the road to Yoders, expecting that the round trip to Glasgow would take about two hours.
He returned in less time than that and reported that he had been carting Joseph back and forth to the so-called "Sportsman's Club" building a few miles away--with loads of miscellaneous chairs which Joe had rounded up.
There was a Harvest Festival in town that afternoon and our favorite southern gospel group would be featured between 3:30 and 4: 30.
J. felt sure that he could still make the trip to Glasgow and be back in time to go into town.
While he was eating lunch, Delilah phoned to say they were waiting on him for transport!
J. replied patiently that he would be there as soon as he finished eating.
There had been a delivery of fresh apples to the Amish sawmill just above the clubhouse and we decided that we could drop our passengers at the clubhouse, pick up apples, bring me and the apples back home before J. and Joseph headed to Glasgow.
It was with a smidgen of dismay that I realized we were moving all the Yoders except Joseph to the clubhouse!
Delilah emerged laden with bags and bundles. 
Elizabeth and Caroline came down the steps carefully holding boxes and the three little boys followed arrayed in identical clean shirts [green] and wearing miniature straw hats.
The girls arranged themselves on the back seat of the car beside their mother, the two older boys climbed into the hatch area of our Rav 4 and hung over the back of the seat.  Toddler Ephraim was hoisted into his mother's lap.
"We have to drop the baby off to be watched," said Delilah, "I can't get anything done with him underfoot at the clubhouse."
She directed J. to an Amish home a few miles down the main road.
Ephraim, along with a brown paper bag of toys and diapers was unceremoniously handed in.
"Did he cry?" I asked Delilah when she returned to the car.
"Oh yes, but he'll get right over it."
Pulling up at the clubhouse we recognized vehicles belonging to several of the locals who regularly ferry the Amish about on their errands.  Joseph was striding about directing the unloading of various bits of equipment.
We discovered that one of the rear doors of the car would only open from outside.
"I think there are childproof locks", I told J.
Not having children, we've never fussed with them.
Joseph marched over and dealt masterfully with the child locks while I chuckled inwardly at the irony of the situation.
Delilah beamed proudly, "It takes Joe to figure out things like this, " she stated.
Joseph seemed in no hurry to depart for Glasgow and I began to sense that our own plans for the day were slipping away.
After 20 minutes of everyone milling about, Joseph suddenly announced his readiness to be underway---with the two older boys.
I decided I wasn't up for a two hour ride with two bouncy boys.
"Is there time for you to take me home?" I asked J.
J. doesn't like dawdling, unless he is the one doing it.
He suggested I stay at the clubhouse.
This proved to be rather entertaining.
As J. drove out, a double buggy pulled in at a smart clip.
This proved to be Eli Hershberger with his wife and a daughter.
Mrs. H. clambered down carefully holding a tiered wire stand filled with pies. Eli delved behind the seat and began handing out packages: boxes of gently thawing fish fillets, covered bowls, bags containing paper plates and plastic cutlery, then he was off again with a flourish.
As if on cue several more vehicles pulled in and spilled out parcel laden women and girls.
All around me was a soft chatter of German.
Girl-children milled about ranging in age from bonneted toddlers to young teenagers who were set to minding the babies.
There was an air of mild excitement among the ladies as they bustled about, working together with a quiet, practiced efficiency to cut pies, slice cakes.  I held one end of the plastic wrap while another woman stretched a length of it to cover the dessert offerings.
Another family arrived with a bevy of young women dressed variously in brown, navy blue, grey. Huge bowls of coleslaw and pans of baked beans were lined up on a serving table.
I was called upon to give advice as the ladies studied the unfamiliar electric stove--where should the oven be set for warming rolls?
Elizabeth, Delilah and Joseph's second daughter swooped at me, grabbing my arm with sticky warm hands.
"How old are you?" she demanded.
[I am in my 60's and admitted to that.]
"That's awfully old!" she exclaimed.
"Yes," I agreed, "Much too old to be chasing the cow!"
[The Yoder children had been much amused at the tale of Dory's arrival.]
A few munutes later Elizabeth was at my side again.
"You don't look that old, " she assured me.
"Oh good," I replied courteously, "I'm pretty busy, maybe that keeps me young."
Elizabeth pondered this, looking across the room at one of the men who had been transporting people.
"Mr. P. doesn't do anything and he's very old and fat.  You're not fat!"
More folks of the Amish community were arriving. Eli reappeared with a hand operated cash register, a box for raffle tickets. Another gentleman, pushing his straw hat back from his home-barbered fringe demanded, "Where is that rocking chair for the raffle?"
Since no one else seemed to be paying attention, I stated that my husband had taken Joseph to fetch the chair. He gawked at me in surprise and I wondered if women, Amish and Englishers alike, were not meant to pipe up unless requested to do so.
A glance at the wall clock confirmed my suspicion that we were not going to make it into town to hear the gospel concert.
When J. finally returned with Joseph, two little boys and the chair, I said to him that we might as well run home, check on the cow and put on clean clothes to attend the fish fry.
Elizabeth and Caroline were instantly at our side, begging to go with us "to see the cow."

At home we took turns hastily changing into fresh clothes.  Elizabeth and Caroline asked for drinks of water.
They were rather shocked to find that we had cats in the house.
The Amish do not keep cats and dogs as pets and they are not tolerated indoors.
"Take a picture of the cow," the girls clamoured.
Dory, calm after her morning exertions, obliged.
[When we returned to the clubhouse the little girls, bustling with importance, towed me off to display Dory's photo to their father and brothers.]

Bringing up the rear on the way to the car, I snapped the above photo.
Caroline is in the green frock, Elizabeth in brown.
Serving was in full swing when we returned to the clubhouse.
Teenage girls piled food on each plate as we passed down the line.  The small building swelled with noise and heat.
We made our way with heaped plates to where several long tables had been set up outside under awnings.
These were apparently the "childrens' tables" but no one seemed to mind that we were there.
I noted with interest that among the attending Amish families girls far out-numbered the males of any age.

Several neighborhood couples we have met were also at the fish fry.
It was one of the simplest gatherings I have enjoyed in years, with overtones of old-fashioned church suppers
or village fairs.
The display of baked goods for sale was so impressive, such a tribute to the women's talents and industry that I dragged J. over to help choose what we would bring home.
A loaf of white bread, carrot cupcakes decorated with orange sugar, a plate of oatmeal chocolate cookies.
As Delilah commented, it was "an upside down day"--a memorable day.


  1. What a wonderful day! What memories you're making getting to know these Amish families so well.

  2. What a wonderful day - it sounds - to me here in Britain - so olde-worlde and typically rural American. I would love to experience that myself after you have written so eloquently about the wonderful people you have as neighbours.

  3. I always enjoy reading about your Amish neighbors. What a very different way of life. They do keep you hopping though!

  4. I seem to have missed this post which is a shame as I've really enjoyed it now......