My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Monday, August 26, 2013

Shaklee Chris Goes to the Car Show

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.   

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 him up.  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 fee.  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!

Postscript - Shaklee Chris passed away on April 5, 2017.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Amish Sense of Whimsy

Amish sense of whimsy... The window on the left side of the barn is fake, just painted on - as are the white cross-pieces on the barn doors. So is the white triangular vent at the peak.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Kettle Korn


Sometimes it’s the little things in life… and for my husband, one of those things is fresh homemade kettle corn or caramel corn.  See that smile on his face?  Caramel corn put it there.

It would be easy to drive by and not see the Kettle Korn building—it’s set back from the street on a promenade that cuts through the middle of the block, in the middle of the downtown Shipshewana shopping district.  But we always make a point of stopping there.  If the older Amish gentleman who makes the popcorn treats is busy with the big kettle, then the wonderful aroma drifts out to greet any pedestrians on the main street.  There are jars with free samples, as if the aroma isn’t enticing enough!

Even if he’s not on duty, the treats are for sale, on the honor system.  A wooden box sits near the various kinds of popcorn (caramel corn, kettle corn, cheddar cheese corn), with a sign above it giving the prices for small, medium, and large bags.  You put your money in the slot and take your treat.  We’ve resorted to asking total strangers for change for a big bill, so we don’t go away empty-handed!

There’s another wonderful popcorn stand south of downtown, Vernon Miller’s Blue Ribbon Kettle Korn, located in the parking lot of the Red Barn Shoppes.  Someone is usually standing by giving away samples—often a young Amish woman, probably a daughter or niece...  Warning—if you try it, you will buy it.

We have found that kettle or caramel corn is a nice snack to much on during the three-hour trip home.  So with a cooler in the back full of pies, meat, cheese, and other goodies, we make our way back to everyday life, with a taste of Amish Indiana in the front seat to get us home.