The Amish, by A.M. Aurand, , at sacred-texts.com
Faithful Wives and Workers.—The plain women have their hands full looking after the general work in the house, preparing meals for hungry men and children; tending the garden and cattle; it is nothing strange to see them work in the fields alongside the men and render a good account of themselves at whatever they put a hand to do.
Naturally hands exposed to toil such as makes up their lives every day in the year, do not come out soft and lovely. They have lots of mending to do, and somehow these families get along through life with few of the things which the rest of the world calls "necessary modern conveniences and appliances."
The outdoors of the farmer and his family give them that close communion with the ground that we hear many mothers speak of when children in the city are unhealthy, or unruly, or want to get out to play—"if they could only get into the ground—it's healthy for them—it's what they need."
There is a large amount of housework to be done, aside from cooking and sewing, etc. a lot of cleaning, since the large kitchen is the place where the family gathers when work gives way to rest.
There are generally no such things as linen on their kitchen tables which is where the family always dines,
but their tables are scrubbed daily until the wood finally becomes quite smooth. Heavy coarse dishes serve their purpose.
Some of the finest-looking and best-kept farms to be seen in many days' driving can be found in the section northeast, ’round-about New Holland. Try it.
Furniture is always of the plainest sort; occasional guests are entertained in the parlor—especially the minister. Bed rooms are furnished with such pieces of furniture considered as being absolutely necessary. The beds may be of the old-fashioned rope variety. Plainness is used severely in most everything they have or use. Even closet space is in the rough—clothing merely being covered with a cloth.
They light the homes with oil; they can find no excuse in the Bible for electricity, or for many other modern day conveniences in the house or barn.
In the old log-cabin days among our early settlers, when they had but one or two rooms in the house, it was the custom for one and all to bathe in the common washtub. Even today this can easily be the rule among the folk living along the back-woods sections of the country, not of the Amish persuasion, necessarily—and in many sections of this vast country. We cannot imagine the backwoodsman walking, driving, or hiking to towns, or cities, just for the pleasure of taking a bath—privately!
We have heard of more than just one or two instances in which man, wife, children; uncles and aunts together observe the rule of cleanliness without the single thought that their nakedness might stimulate sex excitement in each other. A working knowledge of impoverished conditions among the poor in the coal regions, in the city slums, and in the mountain and southern "squatter" sections might reveal a great number of instances of "bathing in the raw" with all the family present.
Few Vices.—If one goes to the trouble to visit these plain people in Lancaster, or any county where they may be found, one is startled at the sweet innocence of their children, to whom vices rarely come, because these are avoided through a constant religious pressure. Their parents are not addicted, and they do not allow the children to associate with, if at all avoidable, other children whose parents are known to dissipate.
The Library of the plain people during the past few generations might have consisted of the Bible, a hymn-book, prayer-hook, catechism, a sermon-book, and perhaps a few other books on devotion.
In later years a book of "pow wows" conforming to authority given by Jesus to the Elders of the Church, and evidencing some use and nurture among their forbears, was to become a household book, at least with others of German extraction. Known as a "ga-brauch buch," it had a wide circulation, and is still in demand by the descendants of orthodox families and many non-Amish who have heard of its virtue.