How to tell if you’re a real Lancaster Countian

From David Walbert’s Garden Spot: Lancaster County, the Old Order Amish, and the Selling of Rural America, on what it’s like having ‘Lank-ister’ in the blood:

I grew up in Lancaster County, a fact that helps only a little in understanding the place. The first time I recall thinking about what it meant to live in the Garden Spot of America was in the fifth grade,when my teacher read us an article from a local newspaper on “How to Tell If You’re a Real Lancaster Countian.” The article’s author listed several questions to which a “Real Lancaster Countian” would answer in the affirmative; the one that struck me at the time—and the only one I can now recall—was,“Do you turn up your nose and hurry past an Italian restaurant, but inhale deeply when driving past a freshly manured field?”

At the time it seemed a ridiculous question: manure stank, and I liked spaghetti and meatballs as much as any kid. So, no doubt, did the author of the article. Cuisine wasn’t the point; rurality was. An Italian restaurant was new, a bit exotic (at least in Lancaster in the1970s), fashionable, very much of the city. Manure, by contrast,symbolized a traditional way of life close to nature. It was a point that even at the age of nine I grasped easily. To be a Lancaster Countian was to live in the country, and to live in the country was better than to live in the city…

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    3 Comments

    1. Matthew

      I confess, I’m one of those that deeply inhale when the smell of manure is in the air. I think Yankee Candle should come up with a collection called “Smells of Rural America”, and manure should be one of them, in all its varieties. My children think I’m strange, but its okay. There is no place better to live than in the country – even if its not Lancaster County.

    2. I remember a hog farmer that used to say, when the distinct odor of a hog-confinement operation hung heavy in the air; “Smell that money?!”
      When I lived in Lebanon County, just a couple miles from the Lancaster line, that all too familiar smell used to invade our house on days when the air was heavy. Within a mile of our house were around 6 different hog or chicken confinement operations. The manure output was indeed a valuable commodity for the land, despite the occasional negative side-effects on the olfactory nerves.

    3. Very funny Matthew, and point taken. Primitive, I believe chicken tops hog which tops dairy. Dairy is not unpleasant. Chicken (or poultry rather) is just about the worst smell out there. Hog kind of hits you in the face but it is not as stomach-churning like chicken, at least for me. I believe I did a post on this sometime last year, analyzing country smells. Will have to dig it up.