Tag Archives: Amish

A Moving Idea

Sometimes an idea will simmer in your mind for a long time before you get the details worked out. Or even begin to take it seriously. Then some sort of trigger gets pulled and you feel compelled to act. Even obsessed with bringing this idea to fruition.

When I was a child my father’s employer transferred his job to another city. Another state. He loved his job, so he was going. And so were we. He was moving from the sprawl of Northern New Jersey to a manufacturing town in Pennsylvania. Not far from the Amish Country. He wanted to live in a rural area.

He and my mother looked at houses to make their new home. One of them was a farmhouse on a large hunk of acreage. In the middle of nowhere as farmhouses with vast expanses of land tend to be. He liked it. My mom, not so much. She was afraid that she would be isolated from the rest of humanity. And that her two young children would be stranded far from friends. Eventually they built a house in an upcoming new subdivision. Close to town, and shopping. The best schools in the state. A one-quarter acre lot.

This particular area was still considered to be in the country, and there were vast cornfields behind the house. And across the street, in the still undeveloped portion of the neighborhood, there were open fields. Up the road was the farmhouse and red barn to which all of this land had once belonged. So my father got a little of what he wanted, and my mother got everything she wanted.

That’s where I grew up. From age five until I graduated from high school. The day after I graduated, my parents moved out. They had bought my father’s dream home. An old stone farmhouse on ten acres of land. With a barn. They lived there for the next thirty-eight years and although I had grown up in suburbia, I have ever since considered this second home, Shadowlawn Farm, to be my real home. Like my father, I too loved the country life.

Fast forward to twenty years ago. My life takes many turns similar to my fathers. My wife and I had started a family and were living in an urban subdivision. The schools were failing and we wanted more for our children. We started to look in the neighboring county. Which happened to have the best schools in the state.

We looked at existing subdivision homes. We looked in the country. Every Sunday we would drive out to the country and ride around looking. One neighborhood had particular appeal to my wife. Best one in the county. We had always heard that you should buy the worst house in the best neighborhood you could afford. That was her plan. I was still holding out for the farm.

Finally it was my father-in-law who caused me to take action. He shamed me into it. What he said to me one day was that my kids needed to move. They needed to be near other kids. And I should get off my wallet and do right by my family. Of course I was going to take care of my family, but I didn’t have to do it at the expense of my life. But I did.

Time was passing and a new school year was approaching. If we bought a new house, or piece of property in the next county we could enroll the girls in the best schools available. There was a vacant lot for sale in that best neighborhood. So I bought it. And my wife and I got together with a builder and proceeded to construct a new house. It was exciting, but a story for another time and blog post.

Fast forward once again. This time to 2016. For the past twenty years I have been poring over real estate books looking at houses. Moving has never been a consideration. The kids were still in school. Then college. My wife was content. I was antsy. Then my back failed. Two surgeries later and I was having real difficulty with the stairs in our three story house. And walking. Moving suddenly became a consideration. But where?

To be continued…

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?





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The Farmer’s Market

Was the tomato homegrown was the simple question I asked. The response was a snide “do you think I grew it indoors?” Admittedly, it’s mid April, and the high temperature today is 60 degrees. Not exactly outdoor garden season yet. But it led to further discussion about how the owner of the tomato liked her okra fresh, and not frozen.

Another silly question. Had she visited the farmer’s market to look for fresh okra? Same time of year, same weather, but yes, the farmer’s market is open. There are actually several near here, and I see them on Saturday morning. Maybe they grow stuff indoors.

Around here, as I suspect is true in other locales, farmer’s markets generally are stocked by micro farm operators who are heavily into organic growing methods. Farms operated by John Deere normally have larger outlets for their produce. But I remember a different kind of farmer’s market from my youth.

I grew up in a subdivision home. But behind my home was a 100-acre piece of farmland where the fields were always planted in feed corn. Around Halloween the tractors would be out late at night, running with the their lights on harvesting the annual crop. During the winter there would be stubby stalks left over. Come spring, the field would be plowed anew and replanted. And all of the growing season we would run through the fields, up and down the long rows between the tall stalks.

I don’t know what happened to this corn when it was harvested, but on any given weekend we could ride in to town to visit the farmers market. Big, long brick building dating from 1911. The Fairgrounds Farmer’s market. It had a concrete floor and was filled with farmers selling their wares. Fresh fruit and vegetables. Baked goods. Meats and poultry. A little of everything. There were some places, like the Country Store, that had permanent shops. I remember that place because there was a large old wooden barrel in the store. When you took the lid off you found that it was about half full of soda crackers. And a cat!

During the summer this was the only place to buy a watermelon. Sure, other places sold them, but it was sacrilege to get one anywhere else. Fresh off the farm! All of this stuff was. You could see the dirt on the vegetables. And the farmer’s hands. Everything smelled fresh. Rich smells. Earthy. And the farmers all spoke like Pennsylvania Dutchmen. Because they were.

That’s different from Amish. But here’s a quick and chuckle inducing story about Amish farmers. I ran the Philadelphia Marathon several years ago and after the race we went to the big farmers market in the city. The Reading Terminal Market. I saw some Amish girls selling vegetables, and talking on their cell phones! Modern stuff like that is allowed for business purposes I guess.

The farmer’s market from my youth still operates on the weekend but it’s been years and years and years since I’ve been there. The local farmers market has good produce, and baked goods and soaps and such, but it just isn’t the same as what I remember from my youth. Nothing ever is.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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