Kid box on steroids?
You might recall our recent look at the kid box, a special compartment on the backs of some open-top Swiss Amish buggies. These allow children to ride protected from the weather. Torey has sent in some further photos of much larger (adult-sized) carriage compartments, taken in the two large Swiss Amish communities in Indiana.
The first photo is from the Allen County settlement:
The second was shot in Adams County:
I’ve been hearing a little about this sort of larger covered compartment on Swiss buggies, but don’t know how prevalent it is. During my last two visits to these two communities (2011 and 2012) I didn’t see any vehicles covered to accommodate adult-sized bodies (other than an unexplained northern-Indiana style buggy in Adams County). You can see the design of these two buggies is quite different, both from one another, and from other covered Amish buggies (each retains an open seat in the front, for one).
Are these buggies specially permitted for, say, medical situations, or are these communities evolving to permit a characteristically Swiss version of a covered carriage?
In a previous post Linda shared a bit from Lovina Eicher’s (The Amish Cook) April 23, 2012 column, which may give at least a partial explanation. In that column Lovina wrote: “The community in Berne, Indiana, has open buggies but now several churches are allowing covered buggies.”
Also, a few Swiss settlements have adopted enclosed carriages, according to Steven Nolt and Thomas Meyers writing in Plain Diversity, though they don’t include Adams County in the list, or describe the style of those carriages.
Not really sure what to make of these. The top one sort of reminds me of a hearse or perhaps an ambulance? On the bottom one I wonder if the back drops down sort of like a tail gate where you could almost use it as a trunk type thing and store goods of some sort in it. They certainly are unusual and nothing I have seen before.
I know one of the Amish families in Berne who have this buggy. They have two adults with Huntington’s Disease who are in wheelchairs and can not be exposed to the cold (or get up into the regular buggy). They have a piece of wood that works as a ramp up into the compartment in the back, but the rest of the family still rides in the front, exposed to the elements. The wheelchairs are secured to the floor inside the buggy compartment.
Jodi, interesting. I saw how you elaborated on this on the FB page, I hope you don’t mind if I post the other half of your comment here:
The rest of the family still rides in the front of the buggy, exposed to the elements, as always. They mostly use it for traveling to doctor appointments and such as the two in wheelchairs don’t leave home much other than that. They push them in their wheelchairs down the road to church and only use the buggy when the weather is dangerous to their health.
I’m in the process of creating a day services program with the local Amish for their adults with severe cognitive and developmental disabilities. The family who first approached me about doing this is the family where all the (adult in mid-40s) siblings have Huntington’s Disease. Only two of the 12 siblings are still living due to the disease. I’ve been lucky to be welcomed into their home and learned so much in the process of setting up the program. I passed them on the road one day when the lady and her brother (who both run one of the general stores in Berne, despite their significant physical disabilities) were both riding in this so I went by the next day to ask them about it. I assumed it was a wheelchair buggy, but learned that most families use trailers behind the buggies to cart a wheelchair (and lift a child or small adult up into the regular buggy) or tow the person IN their wheelchair (generally only with larger adults who can’t be lifted) in a trailer along behind. This enclosed type is only used with those who can’t be exposed to the cold or rain due to a specific health impairment. She said there are only a couple of them in the Berne area right now and they are all being used for people who have Huntington’s Disease; however, one used to be for a child who had a rare disease, but the child has since passed away and the buggy like this sits unused on the family’s farm.
Cool post today again, Erik. Is the second photo the same that we were talking about a few weeks ago?
Jodi, as a wheelchair user myself, I appreciated your comments re: these buggies. Thanks so much for explaining your experience.
Uh-oh, I meant the first photo, not the second.
I don’t think I’ve posted the first one ever before. The previous photo you may be referencing is: https://amishamerica.com/kid-box/ ?
How interesting, Jodi, and practical. It’s heartening to know that the wheelchair-bound Amish in these “open buggy” communities are able to “get out” and ride in relative comfort, going to doctor’s appointments, etc. I can only imagine that this might not have been the case a few decades ago—do you know if that’s true? It would seem downright cruel to make someone handicapped be exposed to the harsh elements…the enclosed wagons are much more “respectful”, even “humane.” Good to know the Amish can and do “evolve” as needed, over time.