My Amish Doll

Ethridge, Tennessee part 2

There is definitely something charming about the Amish. It’s undeniable that these people who work so diligently to conform, intrigue us so. To the point that we want to take a little piece of them home with us, be it a jar of homemade jelly, a basket, or a bag of peanut brittle. When we traveled to Ethridge this summer, all I wanted was a doll.

In case you don’t know, Amish dolls do not have faces. This practice goes back to the Ten Commandments and no graven images. It also accounts for the fact that the Amish refuse to have their picture taken. To them, the measure is one of pride and all prideful-ness should be avoided. But back to my doll… I found one in the gift shop where we rented a horse-drawn wagon to take us down the back roads to the Amish farms that welcomed English (non-Amish) visitors. But I 

There were a great many items for sale, though most farms had the same types of goods: peanut brittle and homemade treats, small wooden games, beads, and jelly. One farm sold furniture–small stools and swings, high chairs and cribs–and another incredible hand-woven baskets. But no dolls.

Needless to say, I was crushed. We stopped at ten farms, got out talked to the people who lived there, bought various goods and enjoyed a quiet, lazy afternoon. But not one of these farm’s offered dolls for sale.

On the way back to the gift shop I asked the guy who was driving our wagon about the dolls and he told me that there was one in the gift shop. (Well, I knew that!)  but settled myself into getting the doll from the store. Actually there were two dolls in the store–one boy and one girl. Buy only the girl doll had a tag that said Amish made. I snatched her up and took her to the counter to purchase. I told the lady that I was disappointed that none of the farms offered dolls for sale. As she rang up my purchase she asked me if I remembered the first farm that we had stopped at on the wagon tour. “Of course,” I said. Then she proceeded to tell me that the doll I was purchasing was made by the woman who lived there, Amanda Swartzentruber. Furthermore, Amanda used to make several dolls to sell  in the store, but their bishop decided that  it shouldn’t be allowed. I bought the last doll that Amanda had made for them.

Why the bishop was against Amanda making dolls for the store to sell is beyond me. Though I’m sure he had the best interests of his church members in mind. Maybe it was a pride issue, like Amanda would think her dolls better than the other women’s because the English sold hers in their store. Or maybe he wanted to cut that tie between the two  worlds.

What do you think? I’d love to hear any thoughts from my readers. Have you run into a similar situation when traveling among the Plain folk nearest you?


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