Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Growing up in the early years of the Amish arrival

When I was growing up, the Amish were just starting to move into the region.  Some people weren't too sure what to think of these new neighbors.

One day, my dad, who worked for the railroad at the Gouverneur depot, came home all upset.  An Amish family had been stranded in a boxcar with their animals on a siding in DeKalb Junction due to some error on the railroad's part.  They had run out of food and the train crews had been sharing their lunches with them.

While he had helped resolve the situation and get them on their way to their new home near Heuvelton, he wanted to do something more to help.

Since we had about half an acre in garden, he had us pack up a couple of bushel baskets of produce and we set off to find these new arrivals to the North Country.

When we did find them, the scene was chaotic - men and boys getting animals and farm equipment situated, women and girls getting household goods into the house.  We approached with our gifts and one of the women came forward, but she did not speak English.  A young girl of about ten translated for us.

I was about thirteen at the time and the whole thing made me a feel little shy and uncomfortable.  But I watched my dad who was not bothered at all by the chaos or the language barrier as he carried on a lovely conversation with the lady of the house.

Of the many lessons I learned from my dad, that one has stuck with me to this day.  It doesn't matter that someone looks different, dresses different, doesn't speak our language - if there is something they need and I can help, I should and I will.