August 7, 2014

Revisiting an Amish Wheelmaker



Article on my first visit to the Amish wainwright: An Amish Wainwright (Wheel-making) Shop

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“Do you remember me?” I asked the man whose scraggly beard matched his yellowing white hair.

140715 IMG_4880E

As my husband Monte drove up a quarter-mile lane lined on one side with lush offerings of almost-ripe corn I instructed him and our guests from Singapore—Hung Pheng, his wife Bee Oon and their son CZ—to follow my instructions: when we reach the end of the driveway, stay in the car while I speak with whomever shows up. Monte stopped the car when we reached a plain white farmhouse, its white curtains drawn back, and a large white-washed shed.

“Don’t know as I do,” answered the old-fashioned clad gentleman.

“We met about 1995. Do you remember someone (more…)


July 20, 2014

7/20/1969 Singapore Guest Revisits 7/19/2014





 On July 20, 1969, my husband Monte and I hosted a back-yard picnic at our then home at 69 Clarence Avenue in Buffalo, New York. Our black and white television was outside on a table across from the food.

During the evening, while the late evening temperature descended from the day’s high of 84.9F to a low of 62.1F*, all eyes were on the primitive pictures—made as good as could be by rabbit ears. We were waiting for the pivotal moments of the evening:

  • 4:17 pm EDT – The (lunar module) Eagle lands (on the moon).
  • 4:18 pm EDT – “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed,” Armstrong reports as the lunar module lands on the moon’s surface at the Sea of Tranquility. The module has only enough fuel to run for 40 more seconds.
  • 10:56 pm EDT – Armstrong says, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he becomes the first human to set foot on the moon.
  • 11:15 pm EDT (approx.) – Buzz Aldrin joins Armstrong on the moon. The men read from a plaque signed by the three crew members and the president, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”**

We were reminded of that evening 45 years ago by our recent house guest, Singapore resident Hung Pheng. He, his wife Bee Oon, and their son CZ, visited us in Laurel Mountain Borough between July 15 and July 19, 2014.


In 1968 Monte taught physics at the State University of New York at Buffalo. That same year we became Hung Pheng’s university host family. The math department graduate student didn’t live with us, but we opened our home to him for visits, meals, and events.

Although Monte and I moved to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, (he accepted a job there as physics department chairman) in August, 1969, our relationship with Hung Pheng continued. The student visited us numerous times during the remaining time of his five-year stay.

While acting as his host family we took Hung Pheng and a friend of his to New England. While camping at a York, Maine, beach,  the two Asian students went to the shoreline and dug clams, which they cooked for their breakfast. I’m certain they were amused that they had to share car space with the two pet cats we took with us.


We again hosted Hung Pheng in 1988 while living in New Castle, Pennsylvania, where Monte was pastor of Emmanuel United Methodist Church. This time we met Bee Oon. One day we visited Slippery Rock. There they found a pine seedling deep in the woods, and they planted the tiny seedling beside the pond near the house we were planning to retire to.

The tree grew large through the years, and we tried to send pictures so they could see its growth.

Pine tree blends in with other greenery,,,

Pine tree blends in with other greenery,,,

Fast forward to 2014. Hung Pheng and Bee Oon were back in the United States, this time accompanied by their college age son, CZ.  We met them in Buffalo, New York, on our way back to Laurel Mountain Borough after attending Monte’s family reunion in DeKalb Junction, New York. En route we stopped at a wharf (on Rt. 20) on Lake Erie in Erie, visited an Amish quilt store and an Amish wheelmaker shop (and were shown a century old wagon being restored); shopped at the outlet stores in (more…)

August 30, 2011

Amish Move to New York State



Clip clop. Clip clop. Clip clop.

      While I work on my novel the repetitive sounds of horse hooves along the road beside the Sunnyside of Black Lake housekeeping rooms was a pleasant diversion. It was also a sign that the Amish are settling into their relatively new homeland, Northern New York, along the St. Lawrence River.

   The first Amish districts in New York were established in the Conewango Valley in 1949, but in-migration amounted to a trickle until about a decade ago… As recently as 1991, there were just 3,900 Amish in the state.* However, since the beginning of 2010 the Amish have started ten new settlements in New York. Over the past two years, their population growth has reached thirteen thousand. It is the fifth largest Amish population in the nation, lead by Pennsylvania, first (over 61,000), Ohio (400 less), Indiana, and Wisconsin.* As recently as 1991, there were just 3,900 Amish in the state.

     Over the last forty-five years I have visited my husband’s family at least once annually. The last few years I’ve noticed the increased presence of the Amish. We are familiar with their lifestyle from living in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, which is across the border from the Kinsman, Ohio, Amish settlement.

The Amish began arriving in (more…)

May 16, 2011

Marketing Quaker and Amish Goods—Then and Now



     “After leaving Winchester we crossed a high ridge, north and west of the town, at Apple Pie Ridge Road, because it was where some Quakers made and sold apple pies to travelers. Hessian soldiers (in what war pre 1751) were known to walk to the ridge and purchase the apple pies made by the Quakers. The ridge became affectionately known as Apple Pie Ridge. The local farmers found booming business in feeding the Virginia Militia and fledgling volunteer American army.

     “Those of our group who could purchased pies, and if we were lucky enough, they would share a bite with us. I was fortunate to have Marnezia share a bite of his pie with me. It tasted better than any food served in the best restaurants here in Philadelphia.” (Comments made (in a historic romance novel) while the Scioto Associates transported French emigrants from Alexandria, Virginia to Gallipolis, Ohio in 1790.)


     As the Quakers migrated southward “up” the Great Appalachian Valleys,* into the Winchester, Virginia region, orchards, wheat farms and cattle farms sprang up.* The ridge where they were located was near the Nemacolan Indian Trail—which today’s Route 40 follows.

     The Quakers were farmers in a new country. They did what they knew best: farming.

     The women made apple pies.

     When the American Revolutionary War began the (more…)

February 23, 2009

Route 30: A Review of John Putch’s Movie


ROUTE 30: A Review of John Putch’s Movie

      This afternoon a friend and I attended a movie that had great raves. Attendance at the local Ligonier Theater, which I’ve heard has poor movie attendance, was almost SRO. I splurged (diet-wise) with hot buttered popcorn and settled in for an afternoon of enjoyment.
     Within the first five minutes, I was disappointed. I guess I didn’t expect (more…)

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