Woodworking: Pass the sausage: They sure fit in better than anyone could have imagined
When the Amish people began moving into the Whitehall area half a century ago, I often wondered how they would adjust to a neighborhood full of Norwegian- and Polish-Americans.
For one thing, they didn't drive Pontiacs, Fords or even John Deere tractors.
For another, they worshipped in their homes not in high-spired churches.
For another, their buggies pulled by trotting horses dotted highway 53 from the beginning.
Oh, when an Amish family took over a farm, they cut the electrical wires, hard earned by earlier owners who thought Roosevelt's Rural Electrification Association (REA) was the best thing that happened to them in decades.
My father, who owned a restaurant, worried that they would only buy salt and black thread in the stores on Main Street.
But gradually everything settled down and friendships were struck across the great divide of religion.
And my father became an Amish enthusiast who liked to gab with them when they came to town.
When our mother died, he hired Rachel, an Amish girl, as his housekeeper and befriended Rachel's father, who was skilled at rebuilding Briggs & Stratton engines, one of the Amish folks biggest source of energy.
Now my brother Doug has apparently picked up dad's mantle.
He knows many Amish men and women, keeps up with their families and hauls them to Eau Claire or La Crosse, when they need something unavailable in Whitehall.
Last month, the Beautiful Wife and I motored to Whitehall to a friend's birthday party. I called my brother and his wife Celina and said we should go to the City Café for breakfast.
"I've got a better idea," said Doug. "Let's eat breakfast with the Amish up in Fly Creek."
Eight thousand calories later, B.W. and I were on our way to River Falls, marveling at the fun we had with Doug, Celina, countless Amish folks and half the town of Whitehall (Remember those Norwegians and Poles?)
Here's how it works.
The Amish in Fly Creek advertise in the local papers that they're hosting a breakfast at Perry Lambrecht's farm.
The purpose is to raise money to support the Amish school, or to help an Amish pay for an operation (Amish don't believe in health insurance) or some other worthy cause.
So folks in the know drive out to Fly Creek, a coulee decorated with old-fashioned barns (some of them fairly new), work horses galore and distinctive black buggies of the sort Harrison Ford rode around in when he starred in the Amish movie, "Witness."
We pulled into Lambrecht's driveway that was clogged with buggies, as well as Pontiacs and Chevys driven by the "Englischers" who had an appetite for breakfast.
We lined up outside the big Lambrecht house and followed a line into the kitchen, where Amish ladies in their colorful blue smocks and white bonnets stood before a huge cast iron cook stove, flipping pancakes, frying sausage, replenishing huge bowls of scrambled eggs.
We filled our plates, picked up coffee, milk, chocolate milk, juice. Where was the cash register?
"I've already taken care of it," said Doug, pointing to a bowl stuffed with money. I asked how much, and Doug said that was up to the eater.
We seated ourselves with other diners at long tables, all studded with syrup pitchers, piles of homemade glazed donuts, cinnamon rolls.
We began to eat -- the best pork sausages I ever tasted, scrambled eggs laced with cheese and more sausage, pancakes as big as hubcaps slathered with what one Amish man called "Dutch Honey."
It tasted just like my Aunt Dorie's from my ancient past. Brown sugar, water and butter, cooked until thickened.
As soon as our plates were half empty, enter the men of Fly Creek, dressed in bright blue shirts, straw hats and trousers unavailable outside of Lancaster, Pa.
They carried the refills, which kept coming and coming.
As people chewed and talked. Doug asked Mrs. Lambrecht where Perry was. "He'd better be milking," she said.
All good things must come to an end, and so we polished off the delicious glazed donuts and made our way out into the sunshine, where Amish farmers stood under elms, talked of crops, looked down on their horses resting in the pasture.
It was a very good day.
Dave would like to hear from you. Unlike the Amish, he has a phone, 715-426-9554.