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For the past eighteen years Ella and I have a favourite Amish family from whom we buy our extra-large brown eggs. As a student of people it has been very interesting to study the family unit.

In the Putnam area a small group of families make their home and livelihood on the family farms. You can usually identify the homesteads easily because there are no hydro lines connected to the aluminum sided homes.

Imagine a life without modern electrical appliances: there are no microwave ovens to nuke your food, no land/cell phones, no central air conditioning or fans to help erase their brow on a hot humid day. Television and computers, daily newspapers and radio news reports do not infringe on their simple way of life. You do not jump into the family eight horse SUVís to visit your neighbours and friends. Horse and buggies and walking are the principle mode of travel.

The families are quite large with 6-10 children per family often the norm. Everyone seems to have a purpose in life. Mom and the girls take care of the laundry on Mondays and cook/bake the food for the men who work in the fields and tend to the animals. The beautiful voices of the females seem to float out the open windows.

The children attend school until the age of 15 learning to read write and the history of their heritage in order that they can carry on their Germanic like customs and language.

You can see the children walking the miles to and from their school rain or shine with their colourful painted lunch pails in their hands. The older brothers and sisters mind the young ones to keep them safe from the speeding cars and trucks.

I found it very interesting that you rarely see a youngster crying or unhappy with their lives. Give them a large rubber ball and a stick and you can watch them playing stick ball after supper. Every child has a turn and their laughter is contagious.

The 1nfant boys/girls are dressed in a skirt like outfits that makes it easy for them to be cared for. You can often see adolescent boys taking their younger siblings for a walk in a wooden wagon around the place.

Gas lights glow after dark and the family usually goes to bed after prayers and arise early at sunset to sit down for a family hearty healthy natural breakfast of fresh milk and cereal.

Children are quietly counselled by their parents to co-operate with the family code-of-contact. But if after due process the sweet talk doesnít work then mom or dad with tears in their eyes along with a sense of love to make their children better will physically paddle their errant child.

Drug, alcohol, suicide problems of our modern day society are not consistent with the Amish way of life.

The Amish family unit stays together: divorce and separation are not part of the equation. Women and men appreciate who they are and understand their roles in life and seem happy and content with their lives. No diamonds/fancy cars or fashions are needed to be happy. The love of your family and a sense of community are paramount in a Amish family.

I find it interesting that the old people are not abandoned or sent off to senior citizen homes to be abandoned by their children. Every one has a sense of self worth, purpose and belonging. The youngest son inherits the family farm along with the duty to take care of his parentís needs.

Mary, an Amish mother, of ten children told me that she is happy with her life Hard work, love of family and a sense of community along with daily prayers to God for help are pillars in her life.

My two children Ari and Sarah often voice their opinions that if given the choice I would have opted to live and Amish way of life. I too enjoy the simple ways of life . I am not able/willing to give up the amenities that make my life a little easier. But, we can all learn lessons of the life examples set by our Amish neighbours to our betterment.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com