Two Stories – Revisited

“I want to share two stories with you. The first concerns some Amish boys and their father. The story was told to me by an Amishman, who says he heard it directly from the father…”

It seems Dad was going away for a while. He told the boys, “If you need to use a horse to go somewhere, don’t use the one that balks!” It seems one of the horses had a habit of getting somewhere out on the road, stopping dead in his tracks, and refusing to take another step.

After Dad left, the boys felt a need to go somewhere, so they hitched up a horse to the carriage and were off. As you might have guessed, the horse they chose was the one that balked.

Sure enough, they got out in the countryside, and the horse came to a halt. They pushed and pulled but could not get that horse to move. He probably just became more stubborn and determined to hold his ground. Not knowing what to do, the boys came up with a “bright” idea. They built a small fire right under the horse. As expected, the horse moved… a few feet, thus leaving the wooden carriage over the fire! Although the carriage wasn’t severely burned, the boys had to “fess up” when Dad came home and wondered why the carriage was scorched. Is it just me, or does this sound a little like non-Amish kids, perhaps even yours, who get into trouble by not following directions when you’re away from home?

The second story happened to me in August. I stopped by an Amish roadside stand to buy some sweet corn, a true Lancaster County summer delicacy. The stand was manned by some young Amish boys and their sister. After making my selection of three ears of corn and a green pepper, the older boy, about 12 years old, calculated that I owed him .65 cents. I was fishing out the change and thought I dropped a coin. But when I looked down, I was standing on a wooden grate and figured it had fallen through. No matter…it was probably only a nickel or a dime, I thought.

As I started to drive away, I noticed the older boy grabbing his younger brother’s hand and shaking it. I thought they were just having some boisterous fun now that I was leaving. But when I looked one more time in my rearview mirror as I drove toward the road, I noticed the older boy running after me, waving his hand. I hit the brakes, rolled down the window, and waited to see what was wrong. When he arrived, he held out his hand and said, “You dropped this.” What he had managed to get from his brother and had run to return to me was a penny. Almost embarrassed, I thanked him.

As I headed home, I remembered that old story about “honest Abe” Lincoln walking several miles to return some change to a customer. I reflected on the fact that although young people often make mistakes and get into trouble, there are also a lot of good kids out there. For some reason, my corn tasted extra good that night. 

— Brad Igou