July 7, 2016 (by Jimmy) – Angela and I were driving in the Amish Countryside on July 6th when we came to a small town called Winesburg. As we made a sharp corner into town, I pulled into the first parking spot I could find. Angela asked why we stopped, and I said this is such a cute little town that I want to take some pictures. Then we both noticed that I had parked right in front of an Ice Cream Shop.
So once we walked around town and took a few pictures, we stopped at the Ice Cream Shop, and I got a soft serve chocolate. As we sat down I noticed an Amish man sitting there. He was finishing his reading of the newspaper. I started up a conversation with him asking if he were Amish or Menninite (Amish), We then switched to talking about jobs (he shoes horses for a living), We talked about kids and grandkids. He’s been as far away as Texas to shoe horses, but there’s a guy that likes for him to come to “Norse Carolina” occasionally. He’s 51, has 8 children (youngest is 13), and five grandchildren and one on the way. In short, we had a great time just visiting. He was getting ready to leave. and I told him my name and introduced him to Angela. He told us his name is Ervin Hershberger, and then he did something that stunned me. He said that tomorrow he would be shoeing horses in the morning at his farm, and, if we wanted to, we could come by to watch and then talk some more.
How often do you have such a rapport with someone of such a different culture that within a ten-minute conversation they feel comfortable enough with you to invite you to their house? I was honored and certainly was not going to turn this opportunity down, as I had never been to an actual Amish home and, frankly, had never seen a horse shod.
The next day Angela and I got ready and headed back to the Amish countryside. We didn’t want to go to their house empty handed, but we also knew that a house warming bottle of wine was not going to cut it, so we decided to buy coloring books and crayons for the grandkids. If it was out of line, Ervin would certainly let us know, and we could send them to our grands.
We followed Mr. Hershberger’s directions, got lost a couple of times, but finally made it out to his farm.
When we got to his driveway, a fellow in a truck pulled up. I was going to ask if Mr. Hershberger lived here when I noticed him in the passenger’s seat. He said he was going to show the man some horses, and he would be right back. He said everyone else was at the house, so go on up, and he would be back in a few minutes. The only problem with this as I saw it was that we didn’t know “everyone else,” but we went up anyway. We parked out of the way and walked up to his daughter, son, and most of the grandchildren playing in the yard. He must have mentioned he had invited a couple to come by the house because “everyone” knew I was the one who put computers in hospitals. The daughter went to fetch the wife (Edna), and we had a nice conversation. It was fine that we brought coloring books for the grandkids, and the five year-old was most interested in them and carried them around for a good while. We met four of his grandchildren, one daughter, one son, his wife, and his mother- and father-in-law. When he got back, we talked some more with him, and then I went with him to see him shoe a horse.
I asked Ervin if I could take pictures. He said I could take pictures of anything except the people. He said it is not their way to have pictures made. Another cultural difference but certainly something I can respect.
As we were getting ready to leave, Mr. Hershberger handed us a pad of paper that had his address on it. He asked that as we traveled if we wouldn’t mind, every now and again to send them a letter letting them know where we were in our travels. I’m sure, even though it was new to us, that when you see the same countryside day after day after day, it would be nice to get a letter from a far-away place. I now have an Amish pen-pal.
This was a very culturally interesting adventure and just proves to me one more time that we all have similarities. Though our professions are truly dissimilar, we are both good at what we do and love our jobs. Though I travel and live on the road, my choice of lifestyle in no better or worse than Ervin having his family in one location. Though I drive a truck and he rides a buggy, we both get to where we need to go. We are both curious about each other, and that’s not a bad thing, I think this was way cool.
Until later… Later…