My husband recently traveled from our home in Illinois to Ohio to meet some old friends at a hot rod event, and he decided to break his journey in Amish Indiana, where he could have some great pie and stay at one of our favorite B&Bs (Songbird Ridge).
His stop was to be over a Thursday night, so he decided to go to the huge cruise-in that happens at Essenhaus Inn in Middlebury on Thursday evenings in the summer. A “cruise-in,” for those of you not married to a “gearhead,” is when owners of old cars show up at a designated place and spend the evening checking out each other’s cars. Sometimes there is music, food, and/or trophies. Lots of spectators show up at the bigger cruise-ins, and the event at Essenhaus is huge.
I remarked that “Shaklee Chris,” one of our older Amish friends (how he got that nickname is a story for another day) had been wanting to attend that event, but it was too far by buggy and his adult children didn’t want him to ride his bike there alone! (He is 85.) My husband Gary left a voice mail for Chris, and soon it was arranged.
Gary arrived in Amish Indiana in time for some pie-eating before picking up Shaklee Chris. They proceeded to Essenhaus, where Chris treated him to dinner. They then spent some time wandering up and down the rows of old cars. My husband said that Chris was the only Amishman he saw there.
Later, on the way back to Shipshewana from Middlebury, Chris told Gary stories about the local Amish—and about some of the local business owners who were now “English” but had grown up Amish. They made a couple of stops, including an Amish buggy shop run by one of Chris’ grandsons. He makes a good living making buggies for the locals, and he picks up extra money from an arrangement that a tour company made with him. They stop by with busloads of tourists who want to look around his buggy shop, and he gets paid a small fee for each tourist. He said he often sees two groups a week.
I was glad to see my husband so comfortable with the Amish. It was his first trip into their world without me, and he passed the test with flying colors.