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1945 A & P Supermarkets original vintage advertisement. More and more women agree that A & P Supermarkets are the modern, time saving step saving food stores. For here, under one roof, they can shop for all their foods for every meal, be assured of fine quality and save money too. It’s time to turn to A & P!  Image courtesy of

This is the cake that the old A & P Grocery Stores used to sell.          

A&P Spanish Bar Cake

4 cups water
2 cups raisins
1 cup shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup nuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Add water to raisins and boil for 10 minutes.

Add shortening and allow to cool.

Sift together sugar, baking soda, flour, spices and salt and add nuts.

To dry ingredients, add cooled raisin mixture and blend well. Add beaten eggs and stir well. Bake in two 13 x 10-inch pans for 35 minutes. Frost with confectioners’ sugar icing if desired. Recipe from

Next Friday a new post from old order Mennonite Martha!

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There is much talk today about the importance of “traditional family values.” In modern society we look to institutions outside the home for education, religion, entertainment, etc. This series examines to what extent the Amish have been able to keep these functions in the home.

Part one of a Seven part series for Amish Stories.

Part One: The Family & Work

It has been said that the family in America’s early years was “the factory of the time.” The family was more self-sufficient, and one’s “co-workers” were family members. A self-sufficient family or community need not go outside itself. It can remain isolated and guard itself against factors leading to disunity and disruption. Yet such isolation is virtually impossible in today’s world, as even the Amish are fully aware.

The Amish live among non-Amish in modern rural America. While they are more isolated in some areas, other communities interact daily with the modern world, perhaps nowhere as dramatically as in Lancaster. Here the Amish come into contact not only with their “English” neighbors, but directly and indirectly with millions of visitors from the United States and around the world.

To the Amish, the idea of separation from the modern world and non-conformity to its ways are stated clearly in the New Testament—“Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed.” The Amish have adopted some facets of modern technology and shunned others. The fact that the Amish population is growing, and that the majority of their young people decide to join the faith through adult baptism, testifies that there are important values in this culture. This economic function, the family and its members working as a unit within the supporting Amish community, creates a strong bond and gives each worker a clear and vital ” place” through the work he performs.

Most Amish are farmers, although in some areas of the USA barely half remain so. With an average of seven or eight children, each member plays a part in the family’s economic survival. It is likely that children are very conscious of this. Dr. John Hostetler, in his book Amish Society, notes the importance of all this when he says…

“Like most parents in American society, the Amish recognize the teen period as critical. The Amish family needs the help of its teen-age child more than the typical American family, and the child feels the family’s need of him. the young person who works on the farm can understand and feel the contribution he is making to his family.”

Indeed, Amish formal schooling stops at the eighth grade. From then on children are at home or on the farm, learning the tasks they will have as adults by working with their parents. The family and home become the place of “on the job” training.

On a farm, your work directly affects you and your family. You are a member of this company (the family), and you have your job responsibilities. In simple terms, the cows have to be fed and milked so that food and shelter can be provided for the family. Your paycheck comes daily in the form of food, clothing, shelter, and affection.

Children see their parents working hard every day and children want to help. Children often try tasks they are too young to perform, or mimic their parents when they play. I once saw a four-year-old Amish boy cry when he could not go along and help father in the field. (When I was a boy, I would sometimes try to invent ways of getting out of my chores.)

At times, individual families become caught up in other “family economies”, as when three farmers get together to help each other fill their respective silos. In such ways, the family and community bonds are further strengthened.

By the 1970’s, making a living from farming was becoming more difficult. The increasing Amish population, coupled with decreasing farmland and higher prices, made getting started difficult or impossible for some. Others found the payments on the farm, building, loans, mortgages, and interest a hardship.

One alternative was to move to another area where farmland was available and cheaper. Others looked at ways to supplement their income by having a family member work out for others, sometimes on a carpentry crew, as a farmhand, or as a cleaning lady in homes of non-Amish. But of most concern to the Amish was the possible necessity of having to work in a factory, and whether or not such work really was necessary.

Part Two: Work at Home vs. Factory next Friday

Published with permission from the Amish Country News 

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Jean is old order Mennonite from New York State.Jean and her husband David and family live on a dairy farm, and travel their community using horse and buggy. She tells her story exclusively on Amish Stories.

As the Old Order Mennonite do not discuss this out in the open like us Englishes do-Jean asked me to explain why she was in the hospital so I will try to do this as tactful as I can.  Jean was with child (pregnant) and was a few months a long when she had a miscarriage.  The Old Order Mennonites have funeral for what comes from the miscarriage-they believe this is a child no matter how small-even if a child has not formed yet.  After her previous pregnancies with Susan and Baby David,  Jean had some female problems.  When she had the miscarriage these problems were worse and the doctors suggested she have a hysterectomy, but she wanted to put off until after Easter.  After Easter she still didn’t want to do it.  Finally the night that she went to the hospital happened and she had the operation.  She went to bleed and started bleeding.  David thought she was bleeding to death and called the ambulance.  He said later, it wasn’t as bad as he thought it was, but when he saw it-he sure thought it was. Marilyn.
Jean Starts: 
                                                                                                                                                                   I went to bed that night with no problems-just like I did every night.  During the night I got several back pain and stomach pain.  I was starting to get out of bed and pulled the sheets back when David saw the situation.  He told me to stay in bed and called the ambulance.  As my parents were in Pennsylvania at the time visiting relatives-he called his parents.  I started to feel faint and remember all parts of going to the hospital and David the rest.  The ambulance came and David’s parents came.  After the ambulance medics looking me over they decided I was going to the hospital and David’s Mother rode with me.  We still have Susan, David Jr in bed and Michael was up.  We felt that some other guardian should be there with them at that time. I later found that David called Martha and she came over to watch the children so David could go to the hospital.  In the ambulance I knew what they would do to me at the hospital.  I cried and told my mother-in-law that I wouldn’t be able to have anymore children.  She said David and I could adopt. Not only that she had only one child and that was my husband David.  I said something about if we adopted we could never get another child like Michael.  I remember David’s mother laughing and said whether you have natural children or adopt-no two children are exactly alike.  That’s the last I remember until the next day.  David told me that I had an operation and what it was.  I don’t remember but he said I cried.  I remember Marilyn coming to take David and Michael home later in the day and I told her that I wanted to go to a rummage sale we had talked about.  She said we had two weeks before the sale.
                                                                                                                                                          When I came around the second day I was in a semi-private room, but no one was with me.  David was there after his chores.  Michael and Susan were at school and Martha was taking care of David Jr.  My in-laws came for a while and then went to our house so Martha could come to visit me.  Martha and Joseph came to visit.  I wanted her to put my hair up so I could put my kap on.  She did, but it wasn’t very comfortable to lay on all day-so she took it down and put my kap on me.  When the nurses came in to walk me around the room-the nurse took one side and David the other.  Once walking they let me go and stood right by me put I could walk alone.  When it was time to return to bed, Martha asked everyone to step outside and changed me from hospital gowns to one of mine from home.  She had also brought slippers and a gown. 
The hospital was very nice during out stay.  The doctors and nurses were very kind.  I got food at the hospital plus people brought things in.  At the house Martha took over and saw that David, David Jr., Susan and Michael ate well.  When my parents returned from Pennsylvania, after seeing me, my Mother took over at the house.                                                                      The only thing that upset me was my Father wanted to know how we were going too pay the hospital bill after the fire we had at our house.  He wanted the hospital to release me early to reduce the bill, but David said no.  When it came time to go home, David took me to his parents home.  My grandparents (my Dad’s parents) rent the other house there.  My mother-in-law and grandmother cooked my favorite foods, took care of me and I felt I was being treated like a queen.  When my grandmother heard my Father getting upset about the bills-she put a stop to him.  Even though my Father is in his 50’s, she is still his Mother and what she says ends arguments.  David and I have money set aside for hospital bills.                                                 
The deacon from our church was at the hospital and said if there was any problem with the bills to let him know.  The deacons did give us some money when we had the kitchen repaired.  We  did not ask for it-but they gave it-you do not turn them done.  We also have a Mennonite Insurance that is among the Mennonites that you pay a large deductible and they pay the rest.  We pay so much into it every year. The deductible was paid so they will take the rest.  As far as the ambulance it was our local ambulance and David works for the Fire Department and ambulance.  The ambulance and fire department is volunteer.  As David volunteers there the bill will be lower than a normal ambulance bill.

I am home.  David has hired a Maude (maid) to help around the home.  I do as much as I kind before David makes me stop. He doesn’t want to over work me.  Marilyn, my mother-in-law and I went to the rummage sale I wanted to go to.  We are planning on going to another next week.  We were in the car with the heat on until the doors opened and then I was whisked in.  Marilyn went out and warmed the car before she would let me come into it.  As much as I love my family and home-it was so nice to get out of the house for a few hours.  I am getting strength and getting better every day.         Be With God,Jean 


Mennonite Meat Balls (Fleischbolle) recipe

3/4 pound ground pork
3/4 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped finely
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup rice, soaked in water
2 eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup catsup or tomato sauce

Mix all but the catsup and form into balls; brown balls in a pan, put in an oven dish and cover with blended catsup and 1 quart of boiling water. Let simmer in oven for 3 to 4 hours, making sure the balls haven’t gone dry. Recipe from

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This Tuesday i lost something that was very precious to me, Tammy would have been with me 12 years this June and i never knew her true age which was estimated when i adopted her at that time to be around 2 years old. At that time before adopting her i really had wanted a dog but living in an apartment which didn’t allow any pets helped me go in a different direction, and am i ever grateful that i did because i loved her like she was my child.       

Let me go back to the year 2000 when i was thinking about adopting, and i hate calling them pets so for this post I’m calling them little family members. My mom had this cat who used to stop by her home and somehow get in the back yard, and she would feed him and in time would name him Jessie. Since my folks already had 3 cats at the time she asked me “why not take in Jessie”, as my mom was a huge lover of cats and dogs and would have take-in Jesse except she had a pretty full home already. But i knew that my mom was getting really attached to him and really wanted me to take him so he could be part of our family, so i decided to bring him in to the veterinarians office for a check-up and to get all of his shots.
After bring in Jessie for his check-up i was told that he had Feline Immunodeficiency Virus which is very similar to the aids virus in people, i was floored when i first heard this as the doctor explained what it was and how it would effect his health. So i asked him how long could he live and was told that Jessie could live for years, or he could die from a severe cold that his compromised immune system may not be able to handle, i was floored and sick to my stomach. 

He could never come in contact with any other healthy cat because they would get FIV as well, and this decease is spread through saliva so its very different than aids in that respect. So i had to stand there in the doctors office and think about what i wanted to do, so i told him that “ill set him free”. And the doctor said if you do that more cats will get infected, So here i am a grown man crying in the vets office trying to figure out what to do. And since i knew if i adopted Jessie i could lose him because of this, i made the very tough decision to put  him to sleep.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Well i knew that my mom would fall in love with both of them and after accepting taking both of them i took his mom (Tammy) and my folks taking her son (Chance). I’ve made many mistakes in my life and so many wrong decision’s, but in spite of myself one of the best choices that I’ve made in my entire life was to take her home with me. She understood me and i knew and understood her personality so very well, and when she became sick i knew something was very wrong.

Tammy suffered from asthma and was first diagnosed with this  disease in 2010, and since cats are able to hide their illnesses’ very well she may have had it even earlier. This January i noticed Tammy was having a little more trouble breathing than she normally would have and brought her in to her vets office, and i was told that she had what most likely was a chest infection. And in this time Tammy was seen and was on antibiotics for the most part of 4 months and me driving to another vet in Lancaster for another opinion, and then i finally placed her in a animal hospital located in Allentown with specialists.  

Tammy was named by my mother from the movie Tammy and the Bachelor staring Debbie Reynolds that was made in 1957. When my mom had her very first look at her she said “she’s a Tammy“, and so her name was born from one of my mothers favorite movies and songs.

                                                                                                Tammy was in Allentown and was placed on oxygen (Saturday) and was at least breathing better which is what i had wanted, i also wanted answers and hoped her life would be saved. After Tammy receiving many drugs those few days x-rays were taken and i went over them with her doctor on Monday, since her oxygen level was too low they were not able to do a  tracheal wash and send a scope down in her lungs to really see what and how much damage was done. But her last x-ray taken on that day (Mon) did show some improvement in her lungs, and the doctor brought her in the room and i had her in my arms and she never wanted me to let her go. Since she seemed to be improving the doctor wanted 1 more day to monitor her and make sure that she was stable, and that i was all set to pick her up on Tuesday morning.                                                             


The doctor did say that she felt Tammy’s lungs were damaged and that in the very near future this would be ending her life in some way, so my goal was to get her home and spend quality time and to try and help her live as long as possible. Tuesday morning at 7:30 i recieved a call from the hospital that Tammy had trouble breathing and became very agitated and was sedated and placed on 100% oxygen, x-rays were also taken and i was told on the phone that her condition (x-rays) showed that over the night to have become worse from the ones i had looked at on Monday.  
                                                                                                                                I made the extremely hard decision on Tuesday to put Tammy to rest, i was there with her and she  was lying on one of her favorite blankets when it happened. She was sedated but her eyes were open and i only hope that she knew i was with her, i had my private time with her and told her i loved her and held her hand as the end came. Along with a great loss i feel angry that i was cheated her spending her last moments on earth at home with me, and i know some of that anger will pass as my wonderful memories’ of her will take its place, and there were so very many of those. This post is for Tammy and my love for her, and i thank you so much for being one of the best things that  had come into my life, and now your in my mother arms. Richard 

If I had known that on that day our time was near the end
I would have done things differently, my forever friend.
I would have stayed right next to you deep into the night
but I thought I’d see you in the early morning light.

And so I said “Good night” to you as I walked in through the door
never thinking of the time when I’d see you no more.
But if I had known that on that day our time was at the end
I would have done things so differently, my forever friend.

For Tammy   A  web site  to learn about feline asthma and treatments.

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Amish Bean Soup

Brown 2 or 3 Tbs. butter in saucepan. Add 1 cup cooked beans and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, then add about 3 quarts milk, salt and pepper to taste. Add a dash of allspice. Boil, then remove from stove. Add about 2 quarts stale, thinly sliced bread, or enough to thicken. Cover and let stand about 1/2 hour before serving. Serve with pickled red beets or pickles.

This excellent collection of authentic Amish recipes will be a treasured addition to any cookbook collection. Includes Amish home remedies. 217 pages, 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″, comb bound, illustrated.To order this cook book please see our friends at      Richard from Amish Stories

New post on Monday of Lebanon county’s Amish settlement with a whoopie pie recipe.

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Jean is old order Mennonite from New York State.Jean and her husband David and family live on a dairy farm, and travel their community using horse and buggy. She tells her story exclusively on Amish Stories.

Today was kind of a sad for us as our Foster Child, Michael, went on to another home today. We knew when we received him he was only here until he finished the school year and then he was going to another home, but still it hurt to see him go. In a week and a half we didn’t realize we would get so close to each other. Once his parents go to trial and are sentenced he may get to come back to us if they are sent to jail. Knowing what they did, I do believe they will be going to jail for a long time.

Michael was our First Foster Child and he was the best. He got very good marks in school, worked hard with us, did what he was told, and had fun with us. He also had one of the things you don’t see in children today “manners”. We know he came from poor parents as he had very few clothes when he got here. In my previous post about him, I told how we bought him some new clothes and shoes. Also I got some patterns he liked and made him some new clothes. So when he left here he had some new clothes to wear for a while.

On Thursday his school had Michael moving up from the middle school to the high school. David and I surprised Michael by showing up in his parents place. He didn’t think we would come. I guess we disappointed him a little bit because we had a driver instead of coming by horse and buggy. He wanted to show off our horse and buggy. When we got done at school , his friends and some of their parents came back to our house. The yard was set up for volley ball and baseball. We had picnic tables and chairs. Some of the ladies helped me in the kitchen to put silver ware and dishes on the table and bring out the food. I don’t remember everything we had but some of the foods were: potato salad, Cole slaw, macaroni salad, pickles, chow chow, roast beef, ham, chicken, homemade bread, and lots more. For desert we had cookies, pies, and cake. Beverages were lemonade, iced tea and coffee or hot tea. After the first round of eating Michael and his friends starting playing baseball. We adults sat, chatted and watched them play. The young folks did get out of hand a couple of times where David got up and spoke with them. Young folks didn’t do anything bad, just got loud and a couple had an argument which David ended. David hooked one of our horses to the buggy and gave some of the young folks and adults a ride in it at different times. Most of the people were local and had seen an Old Order Mennonite buggy go down the road, but never had ridden in one. A few hours later we brought the food out again and had a another round of eating. We thought people would leave by dinner time, but most didn’t so we called the pizza folks and had them deliver as we were almost out of food. After the dinner some adults helped us cleanup and everyone left.

Michael had never been fishing so we had promised to take him fishing and a picnic. The days were moving so fast and I had to do the bake sale on Saturday so we had agreed that David would taken him, but Michael wanted all of us to go. The mothers (David’s and mine) came through and said they would go to the bake sale for me if I would help do the baking on Friday. So Saturday, David, Baby David, Susan, Michael and myself went fishing and we brought along a picnic lunch. I asked Michael what he would like to eat and he said fried chicken, French fries, and chocolate cake. He got everything he wanted plus potato salad, pickles, chow chow and a few more things I can’t remember. Also, I brought a couple of blankets while David brought the fishing supplies. Somehow we got it all in the buggy and off we went. Susan and I spread the blankets and went fishing with the men. Good thing David had also packed a few tarps as he covered the blankets and us when it started to sprinkle a couple of times. It didn’t sprinkle when we had our lunch. As we were almost packed up to leave it started to rain so Susan, Baby David and I were sent to the buggy while Michael and David loaded everything else in. For supper that evening we had the fish that we caught that day.

After service on Sunday, we had steaks, tossed salad, mashed potatoes, friend onion rings, corn on the cob, and finished off the chocolate cake. David cooked the steaks on the grill outside. This was what Michael had wanted for dinner. Monday morning he wanted blueberry pancakes with sausage. I made them up along with oatmeal, juice and strawberries from our garden. Michael asked if I always cooked what everyone wanted. I told him not always, but he was special to us.

As Michael had gone to service with us every Sunday through out his stay we learned that he knew the Lord. We had talked about the Lord especially in his life several times. The Bible he had was falling apart. While we were waiting for Social Services to come and take him to his new home, we gave him the new Bible we had purchased for him. Also we prayed for him. When the car came we all hugged him and had tears in our eyes. It sure was hard to see him go.

On the way back, after taking him to his new home, the lady from Social Services stopped and asked David and I if we would consider adopting Michael, if it came to that. We said we like him to live with us for longer to make sure we would all get along and agree on adoption. We would all including Susan and Michael would have to agree to it, also. Social Services said he would be with us for at least six months to a year before the final decision would have to be made.

All was not perfect when he was here. There were times we had to speak to him about the words he spoke or actions that we don’t allow. He did get upset when we asked where he was going when he was leaving the house to go with friends. Never had anyone had a snack waiting for him when he got home from school. He was in shock. The first time he thought he was in trouble. Michael wanted to know why we dressed like we did, lived like we did and drove a horse and buggy instead of a car. We explained all this to him. Michael had never owned a computer. When he needed one he used one at school or at the local library so the fact we don’t have one didn’t bother him. What really bothered him was that there was no television. After he was here a few days we told him we had a TV in our attic. We are not supposed to have a TV, but we bought one when 911 happened. For a while we had it in our bedroom to use for the news, but we found Susan in there watching it so we moved it to the attic and didn’t use it. After Susan went to bed we would like Michael go to the attic and watch it for a hour or two. Of course, we wanted to know what he was watching and if we did not approve we would not allow him to watch it. Michael had never done farm work before. He enjoyed it while he was here, but would he enjoy it if he had to do it every day? These are all things we all would have to consider before adoption. It is a decision that would take longer than a week and a half to find out. He seems like someone we would love to have join out family, but we want to make sure he would be happy also. The main point is if he became a member of our family would he become one us and join Old Order Mennonite. The sound of adopting him would be great, but these are all things that would have to be worked out.

As I said, Michael was our first foster child. We had no real problems with him so he was very well to have and we enjoyed having him. We realize the hardest part is when they walk out the door and you know they are not coming back. As we know where he is, we can go visit him after he has been there two weeks and we plan on going to visit him. We were told by social services that not all children are like Michael and we realize that.

A house that David and I had always wanted is up for sale. We went looking at it today. David had done some work in it one winter for the owner so he knew what it looked like on the inside, but I didn’t. I can remember when we were courting, riding by that house saying some day we wanted to own that house. In addition to the house is a barn and a guest house. We are thinking of buying it instead of building a new house. This house sets back from the road and is fenced in on three sides. There are a few things we have to consider. One is the price. Another is there are only 63 acres where we would have about 300 if we built a new house on our current land. Also we would be moving about 5 miles away from our family and friends that are local right here. The house has a crawl attic where we would like a bigger one. There is cellar under only part of the house. We think the cellar was under the main house that was built and there is no cellar on the additions. House was built in 1890 and the road is named after the family that built this house. I would have bought the house on the spot once I saw it-but David is more reasonable than I am and thinks about the good and bad. We have to make sure that we would raise enough on the 63 acres plus our cows to support us and the farm.

Be With God,

A special 2 part post from me starting on Wednesday (July 6) called “Lebanon on 2 wheels“. Come with me as i tour the Lebanon county country side on a classic mint conditioned Schwinn varsity 10 speed racer that i had bought from a bike collector years ago. Look for part 2 on Friday (July 8) with a visit to Patches family dairy with just me and my Schwinn. Also will have some classic Schwinn ads from the 1950s-1970s on both post so don’t miss this one folks. Richard

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Congratulations to the winners of the “Witness” farm tour contest John Panek and Marilyn Burke. Well done and thank you to everyone who entered this very first contest on Amish Stories. With  special thanks to  Brad Igou from the Amish experience at the Plain and fancy farm for providing the prizes for this contest.

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Dairy cows resting on a cool spring day , and can you blame them.

It was starting to get ready to rain as this image was taken.

Lebanon county Amishman starting to work his fields as spring returns.

One of mother natures natural speed bumps for the eyes.

When i was driving around Lebanon county in what was in early spring, it had me wondering “which farmer is thinking about selling his land”, and to who?. I admit i was starting to take all the beauty that is around me for granted just a little, as maybe a lot of the residents have come to do. But deep down i know a lot of it can disappear, and there is only so much anyone other than the farm owner themselves can do about it.sentimental feelings for the Land here in this part of Lebanon county’s Amish settlement run high i would say, but that does not stop someone who gives in, and sells to a developer for hard cash. So now my outlook is different when i go out and drive around and take images, and knowing some of what I’m seeing might not be around much longer. the beauty of this area is one reason why i moved here in the first place, but sometimes nothing last forever, so i try to take nothing for granted. Richard from Amish Stories.     To help save farmland in Lebanon county, go to

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Zimmerman’s  general store in intercourse, Pa
The pay phone that John Booth (Harrison Ford) used to call his police partner in Philadelphia, and tells him to “watch your back partner”.
This is called queen street, the same street that Harrison fords character confronts a group of trouble makers. This clip in the movie ends in violence with a towns person saying “this will be bad for the Amish  tourist trade.
                                Queen street facing Zimmerman’s store.
This Amish buggy supposedly was one of the Amish buggies used in the movie Witness.

Since we are having a “Witness” farm tour contest this week on Amish Stories,While in Lancaster this past week I thought id drop by Zimmerman’s general store in Intercourse to take a few quick pictures. This store played an important role in the movie Witness especially the pay phone shown in this post. It’s a phone that not only was used in the movie, its still used by many plain people in this area. In the movie Witness Harrison Fords character is supposed to be going with some others of the Amish to Strasburg, instead this  small town of Intercourse is really used.   Richard from Amish Stories.

              Some “Witness” movie facts

21 century fox was offered the movie. but didn’t want to make the film

Harrison Ford spent time with the philadelphia police to research his role.

Kelly Mcgillis  became very maternal with Lukas Haas while making the movie.

Kelly Mcgillis only worked in one small picture before working on Witness.

Alexander Godunov had never acted in a movie before staring in Witness.

Jan Rubes (the grandfather) never acted before he made Witness, and was an opera singer in Canada.

The movie script changed as the picture progressed, along with the ending of the movie.

Harrison Ford picked the Sam Cooke song “what a wonderful world” .

Shot on the Paul Krantz farm in Strasburg, Pennsylvania.

Viggo Mortensen’s feature film debut. He was offered the part in the film on the same day that he was offered to play a role in “Henry V” in Shakespeare in the Park in New York.

Jack Nicholson and Sylvester Stallone were considered for the role of John Book.

The “evening serenade” scene in the barn, in which Book and Rachel dance, was actually filmed during the day in the heat of the summer. The barn was blacked out and sealed, and that’s why both Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis perspire so much in that scene. The kerosene lantern they had added even more heat.

As realistic as the actors playing background roles as Amish people are, no actual Amish were in the film because they do not (as is correctly stated in the film itself) like to have their pictures taken. They were intensely interested in the filming, though, and many Amish people were often out of camera range politely watching the filming.

In preparation for her role, Kelly McGillis lived with an actual Amish widow and her seven children for a period of time before filming began to get the speech cadence down and to observe the daily life of an Amish widowed mother.

The script’s original title was “Called Home” which is the Amish term for death.

Kelly McGillis was working at a coffee shop in New York when she auditioned for the movie.

Richard from Amish Stories.




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Contest deadline  has been extended from June 11 to June 18
If you can not make it to Lancaster, you may chose this book

Welcome to Amish Stories first ever contest. Witness was not only a very well written movie, it also helped make the Amish culture more aware to those who didn’t know very much about the Amish. This movie enhanced the star power of Harrison ford to new levels, and also launched the movie careers of Kelly Mcgillis and Viggo Mortensen. Witness also brought actor Danny Glover more exposure for more meaty film roles in the future. Its considered the finest movie ever made to date involving the Amish themselves as a storyline, and in my opinion Witness stands on its own as one of the finest movies ever made period.And now you have a chance to write your own “Witness” sequel for this contest.

To enter to win  you must submit  your own version of a sequel to the movie Witness, please try and keep it around 300 words or less and mail it to  Please type in “Witness” in the subject of your e-mail so Brad will know its for the contest. Include your phone number and address in your e-mail.
The deadline to summit your Witness sequel draft will be on Saturday (June18) and the 1st and 2nd prize winner will be announced on Friday (June 24).First prize winners will receive 2 tickets to the “Witness tour” and also 2 tickets for “Jacob’s Choice”. While 2nd prize winners will receive 2 tickets to the “Amish Country Homestead” . All these events are in Lancaster county. To give everyone an idea on how to write this, please look at my own excample  at the very bottom of this post. Good luck everyone. Below is information on these prizes.



   Visit the farm where the movie WITNESS was  filmed!

Amish Country Tours is happy to announce the continuation of a special,exclusive tour that permits visitors to see the farm, now Amish-owned, that was used in the 1985 Harrison Ford movie WITNESS. The farm had not been open to visitors since the popular “Witness Movie Experience Tour” offered in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau and Amish Country Tours in 2005. While this tour is different, and does not go inside any buildings on the farm, it does give visitors the opportunity to see the farm, take personal photos of the buildings, and sense how Harrison Ford’s character must have felt when this idyllic farm setting became his sanctuary. An immediate sell-out in 2010, we now offer more dates for this exclusive experience. 

•Bring your camera for unforgettable WITNESS Farm photos

•Learn of other WITNESS locations and legendary WITNESS stories
•Ride through three historic covered bridges
•Experience the majestic beauty of backroads rarely traveled
•Receive a specially made Amish gift to commemorate your visit
•Limited to 14 guests per tour.

•May – October. At 4:30 pm we depart from the Amish Experience Theater, Plain & Fancy Farm,
Route 340, between Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse.

• Duration: Approximately 2-2.5 hours.


                 The Story of Jacob’s Choice


“Compelling” is the one single word that best describes the emotional story of “Jacob’s Choice,” told through the everyday life of the Fishers, an Old Order Amish family of today. In as unusual a theater setting as you have likely encountered, you meet grandfather, mother, father and children living together on the land, as their ancestors before them. You learn of teenager Jacob’s dilemma in having to choose between joining the Amish church, or leaving behind family and community to become a part of the modern world. This lifetime decision is faced by every young adult member of an Amish family, since becoming Amish is a choice made freely as an adult and is never a “given.”

The belief in adult baptism led to the Amish being referred to as “Anabaptists.” Experiencing the horrendous religious persecution of the Anabaptists ( that was so widespread throughout Europe some 450 years ago, you take heart in their perilous voyage to America. With words from an actual 1737 passenger diary, you learn that many friends and family died before reaching the New World. Their dream of a new beginning set against the reality of their journey is magically heightened by wind, rain, smoke, and fire effects that encompass you right in the theater!

Jacob’s story is destined to bring to you the pain, sorrows, and ultimate joy of this family with whom so many inescapably identify. At the same time it provides an intimate view of these people who, to us, are neither “saints” nor “curiosities,” but rather our friends and neighbors.

More than any other single Amish attraction, you leave “Jacob’s Choice” with a better understanding of what it means to be Amish, andthe ties that have held them together through the centuries.


  The Amish Country Homestead

The Amish Country Homestead is a reflection of our commitment to accurately and sensitively portray the Amish as they live and work in today’s world. The Homestead, sitting between the Amish Experience Theater and the Plain & Fancy Farm Dining Room, is the home of the fictional Old Order Amish family of Daniel and Lizzie Fisher, whom you have met and gotten to know in the Theater’s “Jacob’s Choice.”
Inside the Homestead, we learn of Amish traditions and practices, plain clothing and life without electricity. Touring the Homestead allows us to observe up close how the Fisher family lives from day to day. NEW in 2010 was the addition of the Fisher One-Room School, attached to the house, with authentic desks and furnishings. Learn about the tradition of teaching eight grades in one room.
From the pantry stocked full of freshly canned vegetables to the family’s plain clothes … from propane-powered lamps to air-compressor driven permitted, why not an electric refrigerator?”
appliances…the Amish Country Homestead truly provides an insight into the complex riddles of a culture so very different from our own. Guides answer such questions as, “If a bottled gas refrigerator is permitted, why not a electric refrigerator?.

Contest sponsored by The Amish Experience • P.O. Box 414 • 3121 Old Philadelphia Pike, Route 340 • Bird-in-Hand, PA • 17505







 My own example of  an idea for a  sequel if i were entering this contest.Its just a rough draft, so its  only  to give everyone an idea of what we are looking for, i hope this helps. Yours can have more details.Good luck everyone. Richard from Amish Stories.

                                           Witness 2                                       

In my version Harrison Fords character has been retired from the philly police force for 6 years from a shooting incident, so he gets out on a disability. His wife of 21 years died in 2006, so he’s been very alone since his wife’s passing with only occasional visits with his old police buddy’s to fill in his days. Now he’s left with only the memories of the past, and now doubts himself as a man since his accident. At the age of 61 has unsure of his future for the first time in his life, his life seems to have no real purpose. Even with all the doubts John Book decides to look for a place not filled with so many bad memories, and so he returns to Lancaster county looking for a fresh start and to buy a home. While John Book is driving along route 30 from the city, he has flash backs from the 1st movie. In that part of his life he was young and strong with so much promise, now his best days seem to be behind him, or are they?. After stopping at a turkey hill market to get something to drink, he picks up the local paper and reads the head lines” Barn fire in Lancaster county turns deadly“. It seems someone in Lancaster county has been setting only Amish barns on fire, now sadly this time a family has  perished in that blaze. Who is doing these fires, has anyone been a witness?. somewhere in Lancaster county there is a killer,and  he/she moves without thought or care in the darkness. Will John Book use his many years of police experience to  step-in to help local police to stop this madness, and can he over-come his own personal  self doubts in order  to save lives?.  As john book   ponders his next move a murderer is out there somewhere planning for  his next victims, is john book up to the task, and will he servive?……. ………..Witness 2

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