Amish on rollerblades

Amish rollerblades

It’s nearly 15 years old, but this New York Times article (http://www.cora.org/amish-skate-art.html) remains an interesting look at a “modern” form of transportation used by Amish (and which some may find surprising).

In-line skates, aka “rollerblades”, are popular in the Lancaster County settlement.  Amish historian Sam Stoltzfus estimates that (at the time of writing) they may be “tacitly” accepted in one third of settlements.  In the article, you’ll find a few Amish opinions on the appeal of rollerblades as well.

The article also sheds light on the process of testing and gradual change that occurs in Amish communities.  One informant puts it well:

“The Amish always try to see if something new fits in with their way of life, and sometimes there’s shady areas,” said George R. Smith, national editor of The Budget, an Amish and Mennonite newspaper in Sugarcreek, Ohio. “But when they do change, it’s usually very well thought out. The Amish don’t go in for any fads.”

As far as other forms of wheeled transportation go, driving and owning cars is forbidden among Amish, while bicycles are accepted in many settlements, especially in the Midwest.  In the Lancaster County Amish community, however, scooters are used, with bicycles unseen in most church districts (there are some where children, at least, do have bicycles).

Image credit: richard hertzler

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    12 Comments

    1. Rick

      In-line skates are also used in the Dover community. I’ve never been able to get a pic of a skater in Lancaster but have seen several. I remember the 1st time I took a buggy ride out of Bird-In-Hand, we saw a girl on a bike that the driver identified as New Order Amish. There were several dozen bikes parked at the benefit auction for The Clinic for Special Children last year in Leola.

    2. Elma

      Where do I find a farm that is willing to take in boys that want to work on an Amish farm for the summer

    3. In Hillsdale County, MI the Amish are more conservative than elsewhere in Michigan. Ten years ago my son and I were on a bicycle tour there, on a Sunday afternoon, and a buggy passed us. The buggy had two long ropes and three young men on roller-blades behind. A young woman was driving it at a fast clip. One young man would give himself a forward boost by pulling hard on the rope, then let go as he passed the rope to the 3rd person. Then the young man on the other rope would give himself a big pull and pass the rope to the person who had just let go, in a sort of braiding the rope fashion. My son and I tried to catch up and pass them but we couldn’t go that fast, and I don’t think they wanted to let us pass. They seemed to be having a great time. Finally they had to stop on the side for a breather. They were full of smiles. I told them they were looking good, which they seemed to like hearing even though they’re not supposed to be prideful.

    4. Mark

      I love your Amish rollerbladers photo. I have a question are the Amish into things like ice hockey? What about games like lacrosse (very American) or soccer or bowling (I think of Dutch origin) or even golf? All low tech enough to pass in Amish land I think.

    5. Jennifer

      To answer Elma’s question, I wonder how old her boys are? There is a bed and breakfast in Ohio that they could stay and work on their farm if they were old enough to stay by themselves. My sister and I have been twice. They are wonderful people. It is called the Farmstead Lodging just north of Mt. Hope, Ohio.

    6. Rick

      To answer Mark’s question on sports, the Amish very much enjoy skating & hockey. Soccer I expect is more of a recess activity for children. Baseball, softball, and volleyball are all enjoyed by children and young adults. Group sports are preferred so as to shift the focus from the individual player, and organized leagues are frowned upon.

    7. Mark

      Rick, thanks for the reply. It is interesting that team sports are preferred I guess that makes sense.

    8. teresa

      i wanted to say i love history anything about the amish i love to read upon thank you for your wonderful emails

    9. Saw rollerblades in Jamesport, MO

      Just stumbled across the article searching for something else, and thought I would add a comment based upon my own experience. In the spring of this year I was in Jamesport, MO, out-and-about with a friend that gives tours through the Amish community there. We saw a couple of kids (pre-school age) in rollerblades. He told me that if the bishop caught them he wouldn’t be pleased. And Jamesport tends to be one of the more progressive Amish communities.

    10. Mark - Holmes Co.

      Bishops really get a lot of blame, don’t they. I wonder how that started? In our dialect a bishop is usually called a “Haus Doddy” or grandfather-figure and I see our bishop as a shepherd or moderator not a cop. But I’ve read “Amish” books where the bishop is the big bad guy out patrolling for things like children on roller-blades. (Kind of tongue in cheek here.)
      Since our community/ church allows bikes, we don’t often see roller blades, but I enjoyed them when I was younger until a sudden turn into a gravel driveway left me picking gravel out of my skin and seriously wondering if I ever wanted to put blades on again. I did, but my delight in roller blades was never the same again. One of our children likes to tear around on a rip-stick. I’m happy to just watch, bishop or not, nothing could persuade me to try that thing! 🙂

      1. “Where it all started?” — I think the answer to that would be rooted all the way back to Adam and Eve hiding from God and sewing fig leaves together. Funny how our view of authority is more influenced by what *we’ve* done than what *they* have done.

        But in fairness to the Jamesport Amish, it was an Englischman’s assessment of hiding it from the bishop, not the Amish. Whether they viewed it the same way or not – who knows.

        And yes, I agree — things like the ripstick…, I’ll leave it to the kids.

    11. Linda

      Amish on rollerblades Indiana

      This post reminds me of a short YouTube from Wayne County, Indiana, titled Real Amish Mafia, from 2010, of rollerblading Amish boys.

      http://www.gowaynecounty.com/blog/amish-street-gangs-out-of-control-in-richmond/