Visiting The Amish Community In MississippiMonday, August 04, 2008
The July/August issue of Mississippi Magazine has an article about the Amish community in Pontotoc county, so we went this weekend!
We had never been to an Amish community before and weren't 100% sure what to expect. We knew that each family that had something to sell would have signs out by the road, so we just decided to go to the places that sounded interesting and maybe buy some things and just enjoy the experience.
The community is only a few miles from Pontotoc, Mississippi. If you take Highway 9 out, take a left onto 341 then a right onto Salmon Road, where the community is. They're a few miles down Salmon Road, on both sides of the road (you'll cross a semi-busy road between the Salmon Road turnoff and the actual community). When you see plain-looking, white, mid-western-looking farm houses, you're there:
Nearly every home has a sign out front to let people know what they have to offer. They all seem to be open on Saturday, and some of them a couple of other weekdays, but no Sunday sales.
We drove to the home that had the sign above and I got blackberry, scuppernong, and muscadine jelly plus pickled figs and pear butter. Across the driveway from that house is another home that sells baked goods, where we got *the* most delicious sweet rolls.
We also picked up some other things at other homes: cookies (although to be honest we got cookies from two different places and each time they had a very cake-y consistency and we didn't care much for them), some beautiful brown speckled eggs, some soap, gosh - just a bunch of small things.
I was worried when we visited the first home, though. It was the home of a family who made saddles and they had baked goods, etc too. One of the things they were selling was peanut syrup.
Somehow I had gotten the idea that everything that the Amish people sold was something that they made themselves. Now, when I went to college at Troy State, it was in the middle of the wiregrass area of Alabama, where all the peanuts are grown. I didn't realize that peanuts would grow this far north in Mississippi.
So I said to one of the women something like "wow you grow these peanuts yourself?" and she either couldn't understand what I said (I do have a pretty good accent) or didn't want to answer, so she got her husband to come out and listen to what I said. He said "no, we didn't grow these peanuts" and I thought to myself that I had just made some huge Amish faux pas and I was an idiot so I was all "oooohhh...I just meant that...um, I went to school in Alabama where all the peanuts are grown and...um...I just, thought....well, I think we will take one of these jars here of peanut syrup! Thank you!".
Hahaha! It's a little funny now, but it was terribly uncomfortable then! The people at that particular home just didn't seem very friendly and I was hoping that things would get better.
That was the only place we visited (and I guess we went to six or seven homes) where the people weren't just super-friendly and happy from the outset.
Everyone in the community was in their traditional Amish clothing (of course) and it was just so different seeing the children dressed in miniature versions of their parents' clothes. The pants the men wore had no zippers - I guess they were just kept up with suspenders, and the shirts had no buttons. Dresses were kept together with safety pins, also no buttons. It was all very lovely though.
Now while the people selling the peanut syrup didn't grow the peanuts, I was told right-off without asking - which I *so* wasn't going to do again - at the home that I bought all the jellies from, that the family there grew everything they were offering. There were other homes where they were selling all kinds of vegetables they had grown, too.
At the home that Av bought the sweet rolls and chow-chow, another family drove up, saw we had Alabama license plates, and right there on the front porch Av and this family started talking Alabama football (the first thing they asked Av as they were coming up the porch was "we saw you are from Alabama. Just one question: Alabama or Auburn?" right there in front of the nice Amish lady! Bless her heart for putting up with the seven or eight of them talking about how great this year's team is going to be!). Well, Av told them that his baby boy was going to be either quarterback or wide receiver on Nick Saban's 7th national championship team, and that we were expecting another one two years behind Shug so we were going to have a bona fide dynasty in Tuscaloosa. Oh they loved it! The man said he had a baby daughter and that she could already say "Rooolllllll Tide!". Of course they were all very respectful in front of the Amish lady and she was enjoying their good-natured joking around too.
At this driveway we saw a sign for baskets, so we drove in:
...went to this workshop and met *the* most wonderful man who wanted to tell us all about the baskets and how we was from Ohio and how there was another community we should visit in Tennessee...we talked for a long time and met another couple of guys from Tupelo who were there to buy peanut brittle:
...and we were just *amazed* at the craftsmanship in the baskets that were being made in front of us and offered for sale. We wound up getting three different ones. Here are the two big ones we got:
Okay, so usually I wouldn't do this, but just guess how much they cost!? The first one was $16 and the second one was $22!! All handmade right there in front of us - and they are very, very sturdy.
We're planning on going again sometime in the Fall. I can't wait!