Monday, April 27, 2015

Smicksburg, PA, a little slice of heaven challenged by the Technology Revolution

Living among the Amish in two states, I've admired their unity. But there’s an odd storm brewing.
During the Industrial Revolution, when electricity and phones came into most American homes, the Amish had a debate over what to permit, and in the end they decided to pull back, not wanting to be beholding to anyone, not having monthly bills. Their decisions to not own cars soon followed.

 Now it’s the Technology Revolution and these dear people are challenged like never before; the biggest debate is over cell phones. Our twenty-five year old Amish friend, Joe, got feisty about it last month. My pen pal, Ida, had moved from Smicksburg to Punxsutawney, fifteen miles north, where cell phones are allowed for business. Joe said Ida was no longer Amish. “Amish who use cell phones are not real Amish,” Joe said as he threw up both hands.

Really? Punxsutawney Area Amish say, “We need them to run our businesses, and we only turn them on during business hours.”

But there’s something I admire about the Smicksburg Amish. I don’t know if they remind me of my cousins in rural Italy who want to keep their traditions and their way of life despite the pressure to move to the cities for better jobs. Going there is a time warp back to a time when family and community really mattered. Their traditions still exist, cementing them closer. They even speak a regional dialect of Italian not always understood by other provinces. I find that rather charming.

The Smicksburg Amish charm me, too. They’re trying to live off the land, the fathers being home. They also want their loved one to live nearby, not lured into living in New York where they can make a living by selling organic milk. So, the Amish of Smicksburg worked out a solution with the local government. Electric milk houses now dot the area so milk can easily be collected in tin jugs delivered by horse and buggy. (The state pays for the electricity, not the Amish.)Now many can have as little as dozen dairy cows and provide for their families.

Joe now has a sawmill running that provides for his growing family. His brother Melvin has 12 cows and stays home. Their brother, Noah, who moved to New York to farm, is trying to move back because he can now dairy farm. Not only will the daed’s be home, but the kinner can visit grandpa and grandma by walking down the road. How wonderful.

In Amish Knitting Circle: Smicksburg Tales 1, I show the dangers of cell phones among the Amish and that was written three years ago. Much more is happening, and I think for the “gut”. I’m addressing all this in Amish Knit & Crochet: Smicksburg Tales 5.  What’s happening in Smicksburg, (my little slice of heaven ;) is what’s usually happening in the Smicksburg Tales. 

Heavy milk jugs make for wunderbar gut exercise 

'Englisher' refrigerated milk house where Amish deliver their milk jugs 

Phone shanty attached to an Amish business in Smicksburg

Neatly stacked milk jugs

It's a family affair, the kids 'pulling' their weight ;)  


  1. Your stories make me want to be an Amish seeker, too, and move to Smicksburg. Thank you for sharing your life and the lives of those around you with gentle honesty and caring.

    1. Thank you for the kind word Dun. Thanks for stopping by Amish Crossings. ;)

  2. I live in Tennessee, but my parents live just outside Punxsutawney in Rossiter. When we go visit we always stop at the winery in Smicksburg. It is such a beautiful area and the people are always very nice. We always pick one of the local shops to visit so we can experience something different each time. After reading your blog I am even more determined to keep this tradition.

  3. Loved the photos Karen, what a wonderful blog.