|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.|
Richard asked a question about our church view on modern technology like air conditioning, cell phones, etc. and what was it like before we got electricity. I will start about what it was like before we had electric power in our home.
The thing I remember the most about before we got electric was outhouses. No matter what the season, hot or cold, we had to use the outhouse outside. Also, we had to clean it so it didn’t smell. On the kitchen was a pump that you had to use to get water in the sink. If you wanted hot water-you had to heat it on the stove. Many of the people back then used wood stoves instead of the modern gas or electric. Also our refrigerators were either ice or gas powered. There was a man that came around and delivered the ice.
Back in those days unless it was an emergency, we took a bath one night a week (Saturday). We had a big tub that we set in the middle of the floor. Water was heated on the stove and put in the tub. All of us children used the same tub and the same water then it was dumped and my parents filled it up again with the water they used for their baths.
Heating was done either by the kitchen stove or the fire place on the first floor. Which meant that in the winter it was real cold when you got up in the morning. You would pile quilts on you when you went to bed at night and got dressed fast in the morning to get downstairs where the stove and fire place were.
At the time, we didn’t really mind it. That was the way we were brought up. David’s grandparents were the first to get electric as his grandfather was sick and had to have electric medical equipment. Discussion among the Old Order Mennonites and discussing at the annual conventions were done before the decision was made for everyone could get electric. Even when they were told we could have electric many people didn’t get it right away. Some people felt it was wrong and to much of the outside world coming in.
My parents didn’t get ours right away. I think Ontario County, where we live, unknowingly helped when they were discussing making it a law that all houses have electric. To get electric meant remodeling the house to put in bathrooms, indoor plumbing, wiring, sockets, etc. Many had to buy new stoves, refrigerators and heating systems. It was an expensive job to get electric put in. Being a child at the time the electric came in, I thought it was great. Of course, I didn’t pay the bills, my parents did. I can still remember them taking down the walls to put in the new electric wires and plumbing.
It is not a quick decision to bring new modern ways among Old Order Mennonite like the air conditioning. We still are not allowed to have it in our house even though the house is wired for it. It takes much discussion, and will be taken to the convention and discussed. It has to have an important reason to be allowed. We want to stay away from the modern world as much as we can, yet we do not want cut off things that are necessary.
The only reason we have a cell phone is because David works for the local fire department and ambulance. He can take that phone anywhere with him and be called when necessary. At first the Old Order Mennonite turned the cell phones down, but the chief from the fire department came to a meeting and explained why they are necessary. Not anyone who is old order can have one, just those working for the fire department or ambulance.
I hope that this answers Richards question regarding the changes and the use of the old order Mennonites using and adapting to new technology's.
Be with God. Jean
"Jeans homemade Pickled Beets"
2 Cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cups vinegar
1 tsp. clover
1 tsp. Allspice
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
Either slice or dice beets and cook. Mix all ingredients and pour over the cooked beets and boil for 15 minutes. Place into jars and seal. Water bath jars for 30 minutes.