September 14, 2011
HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION OF TOBYHANNA TOWNSHIP
September 14, 2011
Lancaster County, Pa.
Annual Tour — Destination: Lancaster County Amish Community
At about 7:30 a.m., 35 members and friends of HATT boarded a comfortable coach bus on a warm, sunny lovely day. President Freddie Kaltenthaler made sure that everyone was aboard and gave the OK for our very competent bus driver to take us on our way.
When we arrived at the Lancaster County Visitors Bureau, our tour guide, Linda, a retired schoolteacher and long-time resident of Lancaster County, boarded the bus.
Under her direction, the driver drove through farm country, where we could see neat homes in the Amish style, clotheslines filled with drying sheets and shirts and trousers etc., kitchen gardens with not a weed to be seen, and fields and fields of soy, corn stalks, and tobacco. Strong Clydesdale or Belgian horses in twos, threes or fours pulling wagonloads of produce. Women and men in traditional Amish garb were harvesting tobacco to be stored in barns for curing. Everyone in the family works and families are large.
We passed the one-room schoolhouses, and saw barefoot children in the schoolyards eating lunch or playing softball (a favorite sport). Our guide described the education of the children until they complete the eighth grade. Able to speak German, they learn English and High German in school, along with reading and arithmetic.
Linda described the culture and traditions of the Amish people and the ways they are able to maintain their way of life coexisting but not assimilating with their neighbors who they refer to as “the English.” She spoke of her personal interactions with her neighbors and related amusing anecdotes. We stopped briefly for a quick shopping experience and enjoyed seeing the fine handmade items on sale.
About noontime we rode to Smoketown for lunch at the Good and Plenty Restaurant. We sat at long tables for a meal served “family style.” An assortment of condiments was followed by platters heaping with chicken, sausage, roast beef, gravy boats, bowls of egg noodles, mashed potatoes, and an assortment of vegetables. Desserts were plentiful as well, shoofly and blueberry pie, homemade ice cream, tapioca pudding and tiny cheesecakes.
Following lunch, we headed to the train station in Strasburg, where we boarded an old-fashioned coach car, beautifully restored, with a steam engine hauling us to the town of Paradise. (Not so much.) But we viewed beautiful scenery along the route with commentary from the train conductor.
Boarding the bus again, we continued to learn more about the Amish lifestyle and again a brief stop for a bit more shopping before heading back to the Visitors Center. Here we said goodbye to our tour guide and thanked her for an enlightening experience.
Our driver then headed us back to the Poconos, where we arrived safe and sound and tired.
Virginia Foy, Secretary
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