We visited friends in Ohio who have a hard time visiting us because of their health. I spent a couple days with no writing time, but very rewarding for giving me a different perspective than what surrounds me here in the northern suburbs of Detroit.
We spent a day driving into central Ohio in an area heavily Amish. It’s striking that while the Amish are tolerated they are still surrounded by the heavy hand of government from the moment they hit the end of their driveway. It is dangerous to drive a buggy on the hilly terrain and narrow roads knowing a car may overtake them any time going 55 mph. The bright orange triangle the state requires to use the public roads is so offensive some will go to jail rather than use it.
I’m sure many of them would also prefer a landscape uncluttered by power poles and cell phone towers to service their ‘English’ neighbors. The conflicts of culture here make me wonder how much longer we will see these folks living embedded in our culture before they have to live aside in a sort of reservation to exist.
The rolling hilly country and patterns of fields in different states gives you a lot of pretty scenes. However the narrow roads with close fences or deep ditches makes it a challenge to stop anywhere and compose a photograph and take it with any safety.
We took our friends to this meat market in Marshalville Ohio –
It reminds me of how many stores looked in the 1950s – no frills. They have a big window to allow you to see in the area the butchers are working. Most stores now don’t want the customer to see a whole hog hanging on hooks being disassembled. But it was encouraging to see it looked clean enough to do surgery there. The beef was as expensive or more so than we can get at home. Probably the quality was better, but the real attraction was the pork. We bought bacon and sausage that were outstanding. They have no water added and they don’t bleed all the water back out when you cook them to delay the cooking – they cook up fast and smell and taste different. A good kind of different.
Another thing I noticed is they have antiques from the front door all the way to the back of the store. A big shelf over the freezers displays old implements of the trade and other old things. They are just sitting there unchained and unbolted. They have items worth hundreds of dollars right by the front door, and indeed out of sight of the workers, but have no expectation of theft.
We also stopped at another store further on. Can you guess what they sell?
It’s hard to tell it’s a store at all isn’t it? But they have a small heart shaped wooden sign by the road that says Smith’s Bulk Foods. They are not Amish, but the lady running the store wore the dress and hair covering common to the Amish or more likely here, Mennonite. She was doing her paper work on a computer. The store had a lot of items like dry soup mix that they formulated themselves. I noticed they had very tiny packages of most things including even rice. The size of package that would cook up a single pot for one or two people. They also had unknown to me salves and liniments in tiny tins that were not cheap. They were $14 for a tin the size of a silver dollar. The run down look is something that is just common there. Many surviving businesses obviously have no extra money to waste on maintaining a fussy appearance. Note these two businesses at the main crossroads of Marshalville, a couple blocks from the meat market.
On the opposite corner was this diner. Obviously not built as a restaurant , but they make do with what is there. They are listed on Yelp I will note.
If you yearn for such a country life a good 40 minute drive from a bigger town with services there is a house for sale a few hundred feet down the state route from those stores. This was a bit over $100k I forget the exact number. A nice big lot and double garage – built in 1880. Probably framed in local hardwood and wet plaster.
Built when Ohio was still a territory, not a state. That’s all for our trip. Most of it was reminiscing with old friends and eating out. We will be back for the bacon though.
That’s great to read, Mackey. I’ve never been to the midwest, so it was all new and interesting to me.
i really enjoyed the story about your trip. i love old towns, and looking at old buildings. they remind me of my years growing up. you’re a great storyteller!