Ira Wagler grew up in Canada and Iowa Amish communities. I like to link to his posts now and again, because his writing is very good and he offers a particular insider’s insight thanks to his Amish background.
In one recent post, Ira offered his interesting take on the Lancaster County Amish, and the north-south ‘divide’ in particular. An excerpt:
Homes are spotless, inside and out. Yards and drives around here are cleaner than the house I grew up in. Of a Saturday evening, young children swarm around outside, sweeping vigorously with wide bristle brooms, lest the horror of some stray speck of dirt or blade of grass mar the driveway. In the fall, leaves that flutter from the trees are attacked almost before they hit the ground, and rudely piled up and burned with all the others. I’ve always viewed this cleanliness fetish with some awe. Why sweep the drive? It will only get dirty again. Wait to rake the leaves until they all fall. Makes a lot of sense to me. But I’m from the Midwest. From one of those communities that doesn’t quite measure up. What do I know?
So I observe and marvel. So prim and proper, is everyone. And that’s the way it is.
At least that’s what I thought when I moved here in the early 1990s. From Honey Brook to Morgantown to New Holland, from the Welsh Mountains to Gap and beyond, it was all the same.
But then I heard some talk, muted murmurings. About some place simply called the south end. Things were different down there. Backwards. Ultra Conservative. They go barefoot in summertime. Men, women, children. Every day. Even on Sundays, I expect.
Not that I have anything against going barefoot. I did that once, too. As a child. But not since.
The South-enders, I was told, are hicks.
I couldn’t believe it. Not in Lancaster. From what I’d seen, it was all one monolithic community, one united front.
And then one fine summer day came my first fateful brush with the South-enders…
Read the rest of Ira’s post here