Ira Wagler on South-End Lancaster County

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

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    6 Comments

    1. Yep, I’m a faithful Ira Wagler follower – not as long as I’ve followed Amish America, but probably pretty close. How disappointed I was when he said he was going to forego his weekly posts to take a break and just post here and there. I think since he said that he’s still posted a few times – and that was just like in the last month or so. It’s hard to stay gone too long I think!! I’m so glad you linked to him. I’ve noticed you’re posting a lot more, too, and I’m THRILLED about that!! Have a great weekend ~ ☺

    2. Janice

      I, too, am very happy to see more posts from you, Erik, although I did understand you were chained to your books and unable to post very often. I always enjoy your humor and your photographs and usually learn something to boot. I’m very eager to read your Amish business book, most especially because I am hoping to open a small business in Lancaster County in the near future that will cater primarily to Amish. So bring on the blogs and bring on the books … we’re all eyes!

    3. That was great, Erik. Thanks for letting us know about him.

    4. Creative process of writing Amish books

      Hi imPH, I’m not surprised to hear you enjoy Ira’s blog–really standout writing, and I always enjoy it. And I am thrilled to hear you are thrilled about the upsurge in posting–I plan it to be that way from now on, back to a regular schedule at least.

      Writing, editing and polishing the Amish business book and the Polish Amish book over the past year have required a lot of creative energy that would have otherwise gone into the blog. I like to think I’ve crammed at least 2 or 3 Amish Americas’ worth into each book. It was a loooooong process, but a lot of fun and I hope that readers will enjoy them. Thanks for being in touch.

    5. BTW, regarding the Amishman who may once have had a run-in with a zoning officer, I am reminded that when I stop on my bike rides to take photos of houses and farms along the way, the places where I’m likely to have someone come out of the house yelling at me, asking what I’m doing, are the places that are somewhat rundown. I don’t know for sure why that is, but given that I myself live on a place that has sometimes been in a state of suspicious compliance with state and local ordinances, I can understand. BTW, these people who confront me also tend to be some of the more interesting characters I meet, too.

    6. Hey Janice, Spokes, thanks for touching base! Am more than glad to be back…and that’s an interesting observation Spokesrider.