Sorry if this posts twice, I tried to post it a minute ago but don’t see it here. The Amish guy in a crappy wheelchair at the airport reminded me of something that happened over the summer. I could find no answers after questioning friends and doing a little looking online (I just kept coming up with sites for “modest wear”).
Last summer, after I moved to Iowa I had a garage sale to which mini vans full of women dressed in what can only be described as quasi-Amish atire arrived. I am sure they were not Amish because, well, they arrived in mini vans but also because they were wearing really old fashioned looking clothing (if anybody’s the story that 20/20 did on that polygamist cult in Colorado City, UT, they dressed like that) but the dresses the women wore were colors like cornflower blue and colors other than the black, white and grey of the Amish. So, there were those people…OH, they were also wearing bonnets. Then, a bit later, this group of teenage girls arrived, again, a SWARM of them piled into a mini-van, they were your average teenage girls wearing flip-flops and t-shirts emblazoned with the American Eagle logo but they were ALL wearing LONG skirts, mostly denim, and they were all wearing what I can only describe as a lace doiley looking circle (about the size of a yarmulke) over their pinned up hair. I was transfixed by them as they giddily tried on my grubby old pairs of Steve Maddens and couldn’t help but wonder to what religious sect they belonged. I should say that I live not all that far from the Amana Colonies which were Amish settlements, now kind of a tourist attraction. Does anybody know who the bonneted women or the lace doilied skull capped girls may have been?
They could be Mennonites. Many wear “conventional” clothing but some wear plain clothes as you describe. There is a fabric store in Penna I go to run by Mennonite women and they use electricity, etc., but still dress plainly.
Amish women can wear colors other than black. I think they have to be solids, though. They are also allowed to accept rides with other people, although they don’t drive themselves. It was common to see Amish families piling into Wal-Mart and McDonald’s in the PA town where we lived for a while.
Also note that neither the Amish nor the Mennonites are a single monolithic entity like, say, the Catholic church. Different communities in each sect will tend to hold similar beliefs and practices, and the Amish are generally more restrictive on technology and ostentation than are the Mennonites, but each community sets its own rules on what is and is not allowed. There probably are some Amish communities which allow the use of automobiles for practical, utilitarian purposes, but they’d probably still frown on sports cars or going for a drive just for the heck of it.
Actually, in the two very large Amish communities in Ohio, (Holmes County (Millersburg), world’s largest and Middlefield, recently bumped from third to fourth largest), the women all wear moderately colorful clothing. Medium blues, yellows, and greens predominate (and I have never seen red). In fact, in Middlefield, it is the Mennonites in their black Mercedes who wear only black and white while the Amish in their buggies wear colors.
The vans are easily explained: “Amish Taxis” with “Yankee” drivers–non-Amish people who provide transportation to groups of Amish either to go shopping or to go as groups to work in larger cities or on construction sites. As the Amish communities grow and as urban America intrudes on their farmlands, the Amish cannot always make a go of it simply by farming. Younger women often take jobs housecleaning until they marry and the men often go into construction (with a few going into light industry). It is impractical for them to drive the 10 - 40 miles to get to their work places in buggies, so they hire people with vans to drive them in groups. Since they prefer the lower prices of big box stores just as the rest of us do, they often go into the cities to do shopping, as well. (And I suspect that they enjoy garage sales as much as any similar group.)
(Oh, the women with bonnets in colored dresses sound Amish, but the girls with the “doilies” were not. At a guess, I would think they were one of the more relaxed-rule Mennonites, but I could not say that for sure.
The Amish broke away from the Mennonites because they felt the Mennonites were getting too worldly, but the two groups have maintained a close contect with people marrying into one group from the other or leaving one to join the other for other reasons. The girls might have been from just about any group, but their proximity to Amish would lead me to draw that (possibly hasty) conclusion.)
Well, living near Amana, if you had said “May I help you Mrs. Yoder?” and one the women had turned around, they would have been Mennonites, possibly related to my sister-in-law. Lots of Mennonites in that area with widely varying degrees of observance. But there are also a fair number of Amish. I’m fairly skeptical about them being Pentecostal, as I know of no such group in the area.