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Last month, I embarked on a two week road trip to Ohio and Iowa. In the first installment of two parts, I will detail a little bit of the first that saw my mom and I spend time travelling around Ohio. Photos are at the end of the diary.
Every summer, the NHL Booster Clubs get together for a convention. Location always changes but the fun is high. Last year, the Rangers club hosted it in Tarrytown, NY (near the famous Sleepy Hollow). My sister got lucky and won a free convention for this year to be held in Columbus. Since the Columbus Booster Club was allowing family members to attend, we figured to go as a family unit. Since it was the big year for politics at the Iowa State Fair (unfortunately just GQP) and the fair would still be going on, we decided to do both. Unfortunately, my sister’s Kiwanis convention changed their date to coincide with the Booster Club convention, so it was down to my mom and I to attend with my sister flying to Des Moines to join us for the fair.
We left Sunday morning to drive from Long Island to Columbus. The trip was surprisingly easy. In fact, we made it from our house to the George Washington Bridge, about 30 miles, in 40 minutes. Gotta be a record, right? We passed out favorite city in Pennsylvania, Jersey Shore, PA, located about halfway between the eastern and western borders. Stopping only for lunch, gas and a short nap for mom, we made it to Columbus in about 9.5 hours. Easy, peasy. We checked into the hotel and with the convention to get all of our goodies and tickets for the various trips and dinners happening during the week.
On Monday, we took the trip to visit Amish Country which included a guided bus tour, visits to two Amish families’ homes to learn about them and purchase stuff ending at a third home to have lunch prepared by an Amish family. The tour guide was the grandson of two Amish families whose parents had been Amish but slowly began to separate themselves from the tenets of the religion after they had their first child. Eventually they became Mennonites before leaving the church entirely.
A couple of really interesting things I learned on the tour were there different levels of how “conservative” sects of Amish are. Some Amish churches are very conservative and do not allow their members to have running water or use bicycles while others allow use of some use of electricity and even allow young members to acquire a driver’s license and drive cars before they are baptized back into the church. You are not a full fledged member of your church until you baptized back in usually in your early twenties. From what the guide told us, all of the Amish families that use electricity either have solar panels or use windmills to generate their electricity and thus are off-the-grid. He said for them, it is about not letting technology control them but rather they are controlling technology.
Another thing I learned is the Amish are allowed to graduate, receive a diploma, after completing the 8th grade. This is because Amish children are expected to begin working at age 14. Most Amish children work a few jobs before they decide what it is they plan to choose for their career. What else was interesting is Amish children can choose to go to a private Amish school, which only goes to the 8th grade, or a regular public school. Either way they receive their diploma after completing 8th grade. Besides the fact that Amish children are expected to begin working at 14, obviously allowing children to go through 12 years of public school would expose the children to much of the “English world” (the Amish’s term for non-Amish people) that might cause children to turn away from remaining in the Amish church.
We visited two Amish families. One family was a member of one of the most conservative churches whereas the other family was more modern. They had a woodworking business and used the typical machines you might find in any wood shop. Besides being able to purchase items from the two families, we went to leather store to shop as well. My mom and I bought a Lazy Susan and fresh honeycomb at one family’s store and some soap at the other. At the leather shop, we both bought wallets and got a clutch for my sister.
Our final stop was at a third family’s place to have lunch. The food was incredible. Everything was freshly made. Bread with butter and jam, chicken with gravy, mashed potatoes, some noodle dish, coleslaw with cheese and bacon weird but good, and for dessert peach pie with whipped cream. It was delicious.
Tuesday’s adventure was to Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But first we stopped at an Amish buffet restaurant for breakfast. The food was excellent and my mom and I picked up some baked goods that were very yummy. It was my first visit there. I was surprised how small it was and how little was on display. On one floor, they had a 30 minute movie on American Bandstand. I knew of the show mostly from the tv drama American Dreams, but I was surprised to find out it didn't end until 1987. Dick Clark I knew both from his hosting of ABC’s New Year’s Eve show (a required watching for me for as long as I can remember) and his hosting of the various versions of the Pyramid game show. It was fitting there was an entire floor devoted to allowing people to learn various instruments as well as a space for people to sign up to jam with the house musicians. There were acts performing in the courtyard the day we were there, but I was inside while they were playing.
Next week, I will finish out the Ohio portion of the trip. Hope everyone had a very happy new year (L’Shanah Tovah to all those who celebrated).
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