The last time I was in Sugarcreek, Ohio, I picked up a copy of The Budget, a weekly newspaper that is called the “communication network for the Amish-Mennonite Communities Throughout the Americas.” It’s a regular newspaper with articles of local interest, such as the recent conviction of Monroe Beachy who cheated 2,700 people out of over $33 million through his fraudulent investment company. But far more fascinating to me are the more than 250 letters sent in from Amish and Mennonite “scribes” who live all around the U.S. and Canada. They faithfully send in a weekly letter detailing the folksy news of their communities. In return, they are given a subscription to The Budget. To the folks in Amish communities, a copy of the Budget is like getting a letter from home. It’s the only paper I’m aware of whose big news is in the letters to the editor, and Amish subscribers read it eagerly each week.
Consider this section of a letter from the scribe in the Amish community in Hestand, KY: “Two of Dan Bye’s girls went over to Joseph Troyers’ to get some pots to put plants in. It was windy and on the way home some pots fell off so both girls went after them and left their tame old horse standing. The horse decided they could walk home and left without them. No harm was done but the girls had to carry all the pots home.”
Or this one from Reedsville, WI: “Several weeks ago Leroys had some very anxious moments when 2 year old Matthias turned up missing. Linda had sent him out to the veal barn with a note for Leroy. Leroy finished his duties in the barn, snapped out the lights, hooked the door from the outside, and went for the greenhouse. Two hours later it was dinnertime and Leroy had never seen Matthias! A quick run to the school cabin and all the children joined the search party. They tramped through the muddy woods, checked the creek and fields. It was a grave concern with all the water from snow melt. Then one of the girls thought of checking the barn and there he was, what a welcome sight! He had traces of tears, but had snapped the lights back on and was putting barn lime in the calves feeding bowls and seemed none the worse for the experience. The 45 minutes they spent looking for him seemed a long time.”
And how about this one from Sugarcreek, OH: “Alta Beachy came home from the hospital and is doing better each day. She is able to eat again, although not staying alone through the day. We were over to visit her Sun. evening. Sara Beachy was in church on Sun. She is doing lots better since her fall in church 4 weeks ago. She wants to try and do her washing for the first time today.”
Oh, how I giggled when I read about those girls walking home, their arms loaded down with pots! I sympathized with poor Linda when her toddler went missing, and I wondered how Sara’s accident happened. When I read these accounts, I’m getting glimpses into the day-to-day lives of the people in these Amish communities. In fact, I think I might subscribe to The Budget. I’d rather read about Dan Bye’s girls than the latest exploits of campaigning politicians.