Living among the Amish in two states, I’ve admired their unity. But there’s an odd storm brewing.
During the Industrial Revolution, when electricity and phones came into most American homes, the Amish had a debate over what to permit, and in the end they decided to pull back, not wanting to have to pay monthly bills and be beholden to anyone. Their decision to not own cars soon followed.
Now, we live in the Technology Age and these dear people are challenged like never before. The biggest current technological debate is over cell phones. Our 25-year-old Amish friend, Joe, got feisty about it during a conversation we had last month. My pen pal, Ida, had moved from Smicksburg to Punxsutawney, which is about fifteen miles north, where cell phones are allowed for business. Joe said Ida was no longer Amish. “Amish who use cell phones are not real Amish,” Joe said as he threw up both hands.
Really? Punxsutawney area Amish say, “We need them to run our businesses, and we only turn them on during business hours.”
But there’s something I admire about the Smicksburg Amish. Maybe it’s because they remind me of my cousins in rural Italy who want to keep their traditions and their way of life despite the pressure to move to the cities for better jobs. Going there is a time warp back to a time when family and community really mattered. Their traditions still exist, cementing them closer. They even speak a regional dialect of Italian not always understood by other provinces. I find that rather charming.
The Smicksburg Amish charm me, too. They’re trying to live off the land. They also want their loved ones to live nearby, and hope they’re not lured into living in New York where they can make a living by selling organic milk. So, the Amish of Smicksburg worked out a solution with the local government. Electric milk houses now dot the area so milk can easily be collected in tin jugs delivered by horse and buggy. (The state pays for the electricity, not the Amish.) Now many can have as little as dozen dairy cows and still provide for their families.
My book, Amish Knitting Circle: Smicksburg Tales 1, shows the dangers of cell phones among the Amish. Much has happened since I wrote that three years ago and I think the changes are for the “gut.” I addressed all this in Amish Knit & Crochet: Smicksburg 5, too. Whatever is happening in Smicksburg, (my little slice of heaven) is usually what’s happening in the Amish Knitting Circle Series.
Karen Anna Vogel has worn many hats: stay-at-home mom to four kids, homeschool veteran, entrepreneur, substitute teacher and wife to Tim for 33 years. After her kids flew the coop, she delved into writing, and nine books later, she’s passionate about portraying the Amish and small town life in a realistic way. Living in rural, PA, she writes about all the beauty around her: rolling hills, farmland, and the sound of buggy wheels.
Her latest release is Plain Jane and is available now.
In her spare time she enjoys knitting, birding, photography, homesteading, and watching/reading anything Jane Austen.
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