It Was An Amish Kind of Sunday
Spending Time in Lancaster
By Jack Coll
April 1, 2015
Man, it was quite the weekend, Friday night was History Night at Jillian’s Café at United Methodist Church, and Saturday, Conshohocken hosted the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. We were up early Sunday to meet with family and the Easter Bunny for a breakfast at the King of Prussia Fire House.
So we’re pulling out of the fire house with full bellies, and a boat-load of work and chores waited for me back at the shop. I asked Donna about the day’s schedule, nothing going on was the reply. I say, how about we head to Lancaster and take in an Amish Sunday? Instead of taking a right to head back to Conshohocken we headed for Route 23 running thru Valley Forge Park.
So with Fleetwood Mac on a continuous loop in the CD player, and Stevie Nicks singing something about “players only love you when their playing,” we start our scenic leisurely drive through Valley Forge Park, enjoying the walkers, and the runners, and the dogs walking their owners. Valley Forge Chapel is packed, it’s a Sunday morning, I crack my window to listen for a heavenly hymn, no luck.
When families with kids take a day trip sometimes it’s fun to count how many different states you can locate on license plates, well with no kids in the car I play let’s see how many pot holes I can miss, too many to count, but the park is beautiful with the sun shining bright and temperatures reaching above 40 degrees.
It was a great day for a ride and as we passed the antique shops and noticed the Blue Ball Bowling Alley had closed, we came in contact with our first horse drawn Amish buggy, Fleetwood Mac sounded like a southern choir with heavenly voices as the song “Sara” rolled on.
The ride continues and we turn off Route 23, onto the back roads of Lancaster where I can travel about five to ten miles per hour, looking at every cut down corn stalk, the plowing and planting season was running late due to weather. I jokingly said “Hello” to the horses and cows staring us down as we traveled alongside the open Amish farms. The back roads in Lancaster on a Sunday is like going to church to me, it’s quiet, peaceful, the silence of the open fields is music to my ears, (not as good as the music of Fleetwood Mac, but music to my ears none the less).
As we turn onto another back road in Lecock we pass the cemetery with grave stones dating back 200 years, it looks like a graveyard out of an Amish movie, old tomb stones, a church with a steeple in the background and this big old oak tree sitting off to the one side of the cemetery. You haven’t been to Lancaster until you’ve rolled down the car window, and inhaled deeply through your nose, and the smell of cow-dong hits you like you were having lunch at the sewer plant on a really bad day. Yes, that’s the smell, how can a really rank odor smell so dog gone good on a March afternoon in March, trust me, it does.
Somewhere before the Goodwill Fire and Ambulance Station in Lecock was an Amish house and barn with a couple of dozen horses and buggies parked all over the property. It was Sunday and the working barn had become a church, dozens of well-dressed Amish males lingered about the property looking like an Amish mafia, all wearing the typical round black Amish hats that clearly distinguishes a true Amish man. Donna and I have been traveling to Lancaster for more than 40 years, and I remember as a young man I purchased one of the “official Amish black hats and wore it for about two days. I mean Bob Dylan always wore a hat and looked very cool so why not wear an Amish hat and look just as cool as Dylan? I felt very cool wearing the hat but the problem was I looked like a total dork with that thing on my head, I mean com’on! A decision had to be made, wear the hat and look like an idiot, or scrap the hat, no pictures of me with the hat on my head exist, thank the good lord.
As we drove past the church enjoying the scenery Christie MacVie of Fleetwood Mac was singing a beautiful song called “For You,” the song was very fitting for the view we were enjoying. We made our way out to Route 30, leaving the back roads behind, back to reality, cars traveling 50, 60 miles per hour, there’s nothing Amish about Route 30. On Route 30, there are no less than dozens of real Amish restaurants serving real Amish food. You can get real Amish furniture, visit a real Amish Farm complete with electricity, take a buggy ride on a real Amish Buggy, visit a real Amish one room school house or shop at the Amish outlets.
Donna and I traveled up Route 30, made a stop or two and agreed that we needed to return to the back roads. Caution was a priority on the back roads with dozens of Amish buggy’s traveling with children throughout the back roads. Once again traveling at five to ten miles per hour along the Amish highway we take in all the scenery, breath in the cow-dong filtered air, slap our knees and steering wheel to Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk.”
We decided we didn’t need any official Amish food and stopped at an Arby’s, Donna passed on a drink and elected to stop at the Sonic next door to Arby’s for an old fashion Root Beer Float. So I immediately weigh in for a Carmel Sundae, um? Maybe with cookie dough ice cream, no no, rum raisin, yea, rum raisin ice cream with Carmel, whipped cream with cherry optional, that’s it. The Root Beer Float was no problem, take a guess at how many flavors of ice cream Sonic has, go ahead, take a guess, this is a great trivia question! I studied the ordering board, and studied it, I studied the board from inside and outside the car looking for a list of the flavors of ice cream. I mean after all they had a full menu of everything else including twenty five different milk shake flavors, so how many flavors of ice cream do they have, one, just one.
I expressed to the young lady that I must be missing the list of flavors for ice cream, she replied that they only have vanilla ice cream and then mix in whatever flavor I wanted, one flavor, vanilla, I was a little shocked. The moral of the story is this, if you want a little variety for your Carmel Sundae, you might want to visit Scoops, at least they have cookie dough and rum raisin in the house.
We traveled back through Valley Forge Park, skirted a few more pot holes on Route 23, it was time to start thinking about my shop and home chores. As I sang along with Linda Ronstadt on her Greatest Hits CD, “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” was the song of choice, thinking about my chores.
It’s funny how you think, and sing, as I crossed the Matsonford Bridge heading back into Conshy, I found myself singing along with Linda, “Back In The USA,” “I’m so happy to be living in the USA, I’m so happy to be living in the USA,” man I sounded good!
It’s good to take a Sunday ride to Lancaster every once in a while, it’s good for the soul, I need to take that ride a little more often, it’s a ride I’d recommend for everyone, minus the smell of cow-dong of course.
I love Conshy, but a ride to the Amish country is refreshing.
In a very strange way, I returned to the shop singing “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” a song written by Kris Kristofferson back in the late 1960’s.
“Sunday Morning Coming Down” is a really kind of sad song talking about waking up with a hang-over on a lonely Sunday morning, welcoming the day with a beer, feeling all alone in the world and wishing the performer was stoned. The song catches you in the third verse forcing the listener to reflect, maybe feel a little sentimental, and fall in love with the song.
In the park I saw a daddy with a laughing little girl that he was swinging,
And I stopped beside a Sunday school and listened to the song that they were singin’
Then I headed back for home and somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’
And it echoed through the canyons like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.
Sunday Morning Coming Down
Yea, Kristofferson wrote some sweet lyrics back in the day, fitting for this day. Hey everyone, treat yourself with a ride up Route 23, make it a Sunday morning if you can, it’s good for the soul.