Monday, January 09, 2012


Thus sayeth Davey Yoder, Real Amishman ® when I asked him what he thought of the Amish folks featured in the national ad campaign for the Heat Surge electric heater housed in a handcrafted Amish mantle.  You have probably seen the full-page ads in your local paper as well as in national publications that some folks believe is first-rate scam.  Others have used the pictures as a source for humorous modification!

Davey never explained exactly why these folks aren't Real Amishmen ® but I gathered that no Real Amishman ® would a) be such a crass self-promoter as the fellow that appears in all of the ads; b) not agree to have his 'graven image' published nationwide; and c) promote a technology that the Amish themselves do not use.  Davey intimated that the unnamed Amishman was a renegade in Ohio.  Davey also builds furniture, so maybe he thinks the workmanship doesn't compare to that of a Real Amishman ®

Now, I am doubtful that there are any Real Amishmen ® who read this blog, although a lot of Amish do have cell-phones and maybe some even have smart phones for surfing the web, looking for articles about Amish.  If so, perhaps they can help us understand what it takes to be a Real Amishman ®  Since that probably won't happen, I would invite some of you out there who used to be Real Amishmen ® and are now jerked-over, English to share with us what it means to be a Real Amishman ®  It's interesting to note that the local bishop has so much control over what it means to be a Real Amishman ®  In Elkhart and Lagrange counties in Indiana, farming is still pretty much done with horses, but there are a fair number of tractors to be seen on Amish farms, and in the Great Plains, the Amish have the biggest of the four-wheel drive John Deere's with air-conditioned cabs [at least according to my source, former Real Amishman ® Devon 'Slugger' Bontrager].  The bishop also determines other important matter such as whether or not you can have rubber on your buggy's wheels.

And lastly, the fellows below are assuredly not  Real Amishmen ® but rather are the Electric Amish, and you should check out their website.

And this fellow too is no Real Amishman ®


Bizzy Brain said...

Have noticed a new curiosity in the print media. In one day I spotted two "look at me now" articles about descendants of Mennonite/Amish. One was in the LA Times about an Amish girl raised on the farm in PA, who left the Amish culture and now runs a beauty shop in Southern CA. Another was about a staff assistant to a Congressman who was former Mennonite/Amish. I guess our reaction is supposed to be, "Wow, isn't that amazing."

Dr S said...

Bizzy - interesting, and I think that you are correct that the media expects us to be amazed that a person from such a 'backward' and 'primitive' culture could actually succeed in the 'modern' world :-)

Paula said...

The only thing I see incorrect is the picture itself. A lot of our Amish work in the RV industry & wouldn't own one of them either. But having your picture taken for a magazine or newspaper would be a big NO. The Amish culture is so different-even in the same area (depends on the Bishop). There have been some real winners out there lately-like the guys from Ohio that decided they needed to go on a beard shaving spree (now a hate crime). Our Amish think those guys are a cult-and I tend to agree with them-the leader was very controlling.

Herb said...

No it is not likely that those folks pictured in the weekend magazine inserts advertising space heaters are real Amish. This appears to be a situation where someone has taken to a national level the use of Amish and all things which might be Amish for marketing purposes - a practice which has become tiresomely common in places with large concentrations of Amish.

As for the question of what makes a real Amish person, it would be a person who is part of an Amish community and follows the local Amish Ordnung (set of unwritten rules) The Ordnung varies from one Amish community to the next and this can be confusing for outsiders. Some things will be found in most Amish communities, such as non ownership of motor vehicles, personal telephones, radios, TVs, or computers, non participation in high school or higher education, non use of electricity from the public grid, plain dress, shunning of violators of the Ordnung, non participation in the military, etc. But other things can vary - such as use of tractors for farm work, buggy colors and styles, kinds of nonfarm occupations which are acceptable, participation in certain public events such as fairs and farm shows, etc. And there seems to be a lot of variation in the use of cell phones. I have seen them in use in Indiana by Amish. Whether this is a permitted practice or tolerated/ignored I do not know.
Also in Indiana I once saw a motorboat being towed behind a buggy. Unfortunately I was without a camera at the time.

In general, one will get very confused trying to sort out the whys and wherefores of Amish practice, because it does vary widely and also because Amish are not necessarily eager to discuss the Ordnung or its application with outsiders.

My knowledge of the Amish comes from proximity and family relationships. My maternal grandfather was Amish until he left home at 21 to seek adventure out West, he came back, married my Grandmother (whose parents left the Amish for the Mennonites when she was a baby), and became a Mennonite preacher at Conestoga Mennonite Church in Morgantown PA. I also became intimately acquainted with some of the differences between Old Order Mennonites and the Amish as well as my mother's brand of Mennonites, as my paternal grandparents were Old Order Mennonite until my grandfather decided he wanted a car - this would have been around 1930. My dad's maternal uncle and grandparents remained Old Order Mennonite. My great uncle used to give us rides in his buggy. My mother was not a big fan of the Old Order Mennonites, having endured a round of visiting my dad's Old Order relatives in Ontario in 1943 on my parent's honeymoon. Apparently that was the expected thing to do on Mennonite honeymoons in those days - visit relatives to introduce the new family member.

Dr S said...

Paula - another thing about the top picture - those sure look like electric lights on the barn ceiling, although I suppose they could be skylights :-)

Keen Observer said...

The dress looks a little too bright a blue for a real Amish lady to wear. The shirt on the Amish man is way to light and is short sleeved.

hoosierdaddy said...

KO - and what about the hat? Doesn't look like what the Hoosier Amers wear.