Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Amishland (Central Show)

Man, is it great to be out in the country again. Tom and I were pulling out of the parking lot of Yoder’s Kitchen in Arthur, IL, heart of the Amish country, when I looked to the east and observed a brilliant full moon illuminating a large patch of cloud. I marveled at how amazing it is to be only 3 hours from Chicago yet feel like I’m in a different world. Of course, that’s because I am in a different world out here! Our waitress wore traditional Mennonite head covering and long dress. Several horse drawn buggies zipped by on the main street. Tomorrow we will explore a handful of sights and speak to some Amish who will tell us about their lifestyle. (NOTE: It didn’t happen. The man who said he would talk to us changed his mind.)

Ben in Amish country

So right now, I’m reclining on a day bed in my room at the Flower Patch Bed and Breakfast in Arcola. Lynne and Bill Harshbarger are our hosts and the place is just exquisite. If flowers and country Victorian is your cup of tea, you’re going to love it here. As always, even more impressive than the surroundings is the warmth of the proprietors. I look forward to shooting a little bit tomorrow morning with them before we start the day shooting in town. First stop in downtown Arcola: The Hippie Memorial!

Breakfast in Arcola

The Day Begins… When Lynne Harshbarger announced the courses of the breakfast about to be served this morning, I knew we were going to get off to a late start. Fruit cocktail with mint leaves and edible flowers, followed by homemade Amish style baked goods, then pumpkin pancakes, homemade oatmeal with heavy cream and brown sugar, and cauliflower, tomatoes, and potatoes and Dutch Amish sausage. Fresh OJ, homemade tomato juice, tea and coffee. Aieeee!

All day long, we were calling ahead to let the next party know we’d be late. First, the Hippie Memorial (I helped Susan Foster see it a new way.) And her collections of brooms inside the visitor center was terrific. You’ll see that in another show.) Then the Amish Interpretive Center with Stella Eads, then off to Arthur to meet Theresa Binion and a drive around the Amish Country to see what we could see.

Folks, it is a challenge to make a TV piece on a people who refuse to be videotaped or have their image recorded in any way. We gave it our best shot as Theresa assured us that taping school kids playing baseball in full Amish garb wouldn’t be a problem because they weren’t yet members of the church. (Too young.) We did catch some buggies passing by and were afforded the opportunity to shoot inside Wilson’s Woodworks showroom where they make gorgeous furniture. A funny feeling all day as if we knew the locals didn’t want us there. But as Theresa pointed out, they know that their livelihoods depend on visitors, on The English, as the non-Amish are called, so it is something they accept (or endure.)

A million miles away, figuratively, we found ourselves in the Museum of Funeral Customs in Springfield, discussing the benefits of embalming. (We’ll be showing you that one next time we do a Central Illinois show.)

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Amishland (Central Show)

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